Now that the plastic bag ban has been introduced at Woolworths, we take a closer look at the alternatives. Which bags are better for the environment?
Heavy-duty plastic bags
- Woolworths and Coles both claim their heavy-duty bags are made from 80 per cent recycled material.
- According to Clean Up Australia chief executive officer Terrie-Ann Johnston, heavy-duty bags are "better environmentally than single-use bags.”
- According to a British life-cycle assessment, you’ll need to reuse a heavy-duty bag at least four times to recoup the extra energy needed to make it.
- People use them as bin liners and they end up in landfill.
- You can re-use them hundreds of time and they’re biodegradable.
- An extraordinary amount of water is used to grow cotton.
- You’ll need to use a canvas bag around 100 times before you’re environmentally ahead of a single-use plastic bag.
- You don’t need a lot of pesticide to grow hemp.
- Hemp uses less water to grow than cotton.
- It’s strong and made from biodegradable material.
- The hemp probably wasn’t grown in Australia so there will be a carbon cost.
- The industry isn’t worth a lot of money to the Australian economy.
- It’s got Clean Up Australia’s tick of approval.
- It’s made from a sustainable fibre that doesn’t require a lot of water to grow.
- It’s a heavy duty and biodegradable material.
- It doesn’t require a lot of pesticides to grow.
- While most jute isn’t grown in Australia, the crop itself is carbon neutral.
Woolworth’s green bags
- Energy efficient to produce.
- Thicker and more robust than the heavy duty plastic bags.
- From a global warming perspective, you have to use your green bag 11 times to break even.
- They’re made from polypropylene and are not biodegradable.
- They break down into microplastics and have the same environmental impact as plastic bags.
With Clean Up Australia's stamp of approval and its strong eco credentials, jute is the most environmentally-sound option for shopping bags.