THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PRINTED CARRIER BAG
You might never have considered it but almost every time you make a purchase in a shop or a store, you are given a shopping bag of some description.
Think about how many people globally buy products and how many shopping bags must be given away with each and every purchase.
That equates to billions of printed bags produced each year. What happens with them all once the have been used?
RECYCLING A CARRIER BAG
Over 70% of bags are not recycled, they end up in a landfill or become incinerated. A plastic one or a paper one with a plastic laminated can take decades to degrade. Bio-degrable bags use heaps of energy to get produced and then just…well…degrade. Its such a waste.
The only bags that can be 100% quickly and easily recycled are plastic bags and paper bags with no mixed components contained within them.
Even then, the recycling of the carrier bag depends on whether the customer decides to recycle the bag and the local council of Government has the infrastructure to collect and recycle each bag.
TRENDS IN CARRIER BAGS
There is now pressures on brands to consider the above during the design process of their bags. Where as before they had to design a bag simply manufactured and used. They must now consider how the bag is disposed off and re-used or recycled.
This has meant that packaging designers have developed different strategies that they think are the best approach to recycling a bag.
* Bags for Life – Rather than producing a bag that is only used once or twice, use a bag that can be used for life. The naivety here is that most people don’t want to use something for life. They want new things and for new statements to be made about them. Designing a cotton bag that last for decades does not help the environment. It still uses up energy and resources and is very difficult to recycle.
* Bags made from recycled materials – Sounds fantastic. The truth is that its not. If you don’t know the original source of the material that has been recycled you could be encouraging the destruction of rain forests in Asia and South America.
* Bio-Degrable bag – Producing something that disappears is convenient for everyone but why use all that energy creating something that has no re-usable energy stored within it.
THE SOLUTION FOR 2012 & 2013
Based on where we (the U.K) is right now the future for the printed carrier bag will be divided between 3 products:
* Paper carrier bags with twisted paper handles that use FSC approved paper – These bags are quick to produce, easy to recycle and look great. Countries such as Ireland require that retailers use only this type of bag which is a testament to the bags future.
* Handmade paper bags – Luxury brands need a product to set themselves apart from ordinary brands. Handmade paper bags with paper based laminations and FSC approved paper can look and feel premium and are sustainable.
There is still room for innovation for new materials but like all industries, the packaging industry must wait until a trend becomes a critical requirement before it can invest resources into developing material that work commercially and environmentally.