Science/Environment The plastic bag myth

skipjack

Norm Smith Medallist
Oct 16, 2007
5,451
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Balwyn
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Hawthorn
We are encouraged to purchase canvas bags and use them instead of plastic to help "save the environment". But now instead of using those shopping bags as bin liners what do I do? You guessed it. Buy a packet of plastic bin liners. My efforts are for absolutely nothing. I contribute the exact same number of plastic bags to the environment. Anyone able to shed any light on why I should bother anymore?
 

blackcat

De Preston School of Industry
Dec 29, 2003
26,858
13,316
melbourne
AFL Club
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We are encouraged to purchase canvas bags and use them instead of plastic to help "save the environment". But now instead of using those shopping bags as bin liners what do I do? You guessed it. Buy a packet of plastic bin liners. My efforts are for absolutely nothing. I contribute the exact same number of plastic bags to the environment. Anyone able to shed any light on why I should bother anymore?
your super fund holds shares in either a cotton mill, or garbage bags?
 
Jan 9, 2009
10,931
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Melbourne
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I worked at a supermarket when at school and they used to have a thing on the wall about their usage of bags. They were spending about $600 a week on plastic bags IIRC. Multiply that by 52 weeks and a couple of hundred stores nation wide and then as an added bonus charge $2 a pop for a few million calico bags and fair to say it is an epic win for Coles and Woolworths.
 

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Jafa

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 4, 2002
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For starters - there is no way you use all of your bags for your rubbish. The amount that the average family collect from shopping far outweighs the amount that they need to wrap their garbage. I'll bet you dump half of them in your rubbish anyway. The commercial bin liners will generally take more so you should be using less.

The proposed bans have a lot to do with preventing bag accumulation in waterways, oceans and the general environment. You use your bags for a specific purpose (as do I) but a huge amount end up in places other than landfill. At least if you buy binliners - you are buying them to go into landfill where they can be managed.
 

skilts

Brownlow Medallist
Feb 14, 2002
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For starters - there is no way you use all of your bags for your rubbish. The amount that the average family collect from shopping far outweighs the amount that they need to wrap their garbage. I'll bet you dump half of them in your rubbish anyway. The commercial bin liners will generally take more so you should be using less.

The proposed bans have a lot to do with preventing bag accumulation in waterways, oceans and the general environment. You use your bags for a specific purpose (as do I) but a huge amount end up in places other than landfill. At least if you buy binliners - you are buying them to go into landfill where they can be managed.
So, the problem is littering, not plastic bags. I use all of my plastic bags as bin liners. There is nothing inherent in specific-purpose rubbish bags which would prevent them also becoming a litter problem.
 

Jafa

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 4, 2002
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So, the problem is littering, not plastic bags. I use all of my plastic bags as bin liners. There is nothing inherent in specific-purpose rubbish bags which would prevent them also becoming a litter problem.
Yes - the problem is littering. However, I think it's fair to say that if you buy a bin liner for the most part you will use the liner for it's intended purpose and it will end up in the wheelie bin. However if you are given 5 or 6 plastic bags every time you shop there are good chances they could end up anywhere. I am happy to acknowledge that many people do the right thing and try to dispose of them in a thoughtful manner but I expect that many more simply don't give a toss how they are disposed of.

I also maintain that using bin liners will see the average household use far less bags as they will hold a good deal more rubbish than the average shopping bag.
 

Fire

Brownlow Medallist
Mar 12, 2003
10,284
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I use all of my plastic bags as bin liners.
I call BS. Where did you generae all this waste? I imagine pretty much all waste is caused by what you originally bought in the supermarket.

Empty packaging (outgoing) has less volume than full packaging (incoming) and should take up far less space, resulting in a plastic bag surplus.

I suspect you are lying to try and emphasise a point that isn't otherwise relevant.
 

Qsaint

Cancelled
May 6, 2004
15,432
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Brisvegas
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Yes - the problem is littering. However, I think it's fair to say that if you buy a bin liner for the most part you will use the liner for it's intended purpose and it will end up in the wheelie bin. However if you are given 5 or 6 plastic bags every time you shop there are good chances they could end up anywhere. I am happy to acknowledge that many people do the right thing and try to dispose of them in a thoughtful manner but I expect that many more simply don't give a toss how they are disposed of.

I also maintain that using bin liners will see the average household use far less bags as they will hold a good deal more rubbish than the average shopping bag.
The cure can be seen as a worst problem though, the so called Green bags are made of a plastic that can't be economically recycled whilst the normal plastic bag can into useful products. The green bag in energy and raw materials used is 10,000's of the humble plastic bag so if being Green is an issue the plastic bag is better than the Green bag. It is purely as skilts said a littering issue that could be corrected by a recycling drive.
 

Jafa

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 4, 2002
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The cure can be seen as a worst problem though, the so called Green bags are made of a plastic that can't be economically recycled whilst the normal plastic bag can into useful products. The green bag in energy and raw materials used is 10,000's of the humble plastic bag so if being Green is an issue the plastic bag is better than the Green bag. It is purely as skilts said a littering issue that could be corrected by a recycling drive.
Lol. Not a chance.

As far as the green bags go. If they help prevent this



I'll happily deal with them when they are to old to use anymore. They make for fantastic weed mats in my native garden.
 

Mr Q

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May 27, 2002
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It is purely as skilts said a littering issue that could be corrected by a recycling drive.
A recycling drive? I doubt it. You can't stop people littering, or we'd not see all those disgusting cigarette butts everywhere around our environment.
 

lemon chicken

Cancelled
Jan 31, 2008
4,708
782
Mordialloc
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We are encouraged to purchase canvas bags and use them instead of plastic to help "save the environment". But now instead of using those shopping bags as bin liners what do I do? You guessed it. Buy a packet of plastic bin liners. My efforts are for absolutely nothing. I contribute the exact same number of plastic bags to the environment. Anyone able to shed any light on why I should bother anymore?
Share the same view and what ive noticed is since the self scan registers have come in i no longer have an excess of bags as the check out kid isnt placing 2 items in each bag and moving onto the next.
 

bit_pattern

Norm Smith Medallist
Suspended
Feb 6, 2008
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I find it hard to believe that you'd use EVERY plastic bag you get from shopping as a bin liner. I do the same thing but still have tonnoes of bags within bags in my pantry
 

Jafa

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 4, 2002
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I find it hard to believe that you'd use EVERY plastic bag you get from shopping as a bin liner. I do the same thing but still have tonnoes of bags within bags in my pantry
Same. I have taken to double bagging my rubbish to try and get rid of the excess.
 

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tigers_of_old_08

Norm Smith Medallist
Oct 22, 2007
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RICHMOND
We are encouraged to purchase canvas bags and use them instead of plastic to help "save the environment". But now instead of using those shopping bags as bin liners what do I do? You guessed it. Buy a packet of plastic bin liners. My efforts are for absolutely nothing. I contribute the exact same number of plastic bags to the environment. Anyone able to shed any light on why I should bother anymore?
EXACTLY. So what's the difference?

I suspect very little. At least the plastic shopping bags got to serve a dual purpose.
 

mantis

Hall of Famer
Mar 9, 2001
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I don't know how much shopping some of you people do, but most families would need a minimum of 10 plastic bags a week for their shopping & I'm sure they don't need to use that many for their rubbish every week. The canvas bags last for years & as someone mentioned, make good weed mats once they are no longer usable.

If you recycle & use compost bins, then you should have very little non recyclable rubbish.

Also, you need to use more plastic bags for your shopping than canvas bags, because plastic bags tend to break if too much is put in them.
 

Scotland

TheBrownDog
May 5, 2006
56,601
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I had about 4 or 5 green bags, which I kept in one of the kitchen cupboards. Going to a few barbecues etc. I've managed to lose all but one of them, and consequently have been shopping for the last week or two and needing to use plastic bags.

Within that short period my cupboard seems to be overflowing with plastic bags. Despite normally needing 2 or 3 green bags I seem to end up with 6 or 7 plastic bags. First item on the next shopping list is new green bags, as it will take me weeks to go through my surplus of plastic bags as bin liners.

Incidentally a private members bill is set to go before WA parliament for a plastic bag ban. I bet the peanuts in power/opposition will manage to find reason to reject it.
 

Papa G

Brownlow Medallist
Apr 13, 2006
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The stupid thing is that here in SA most supermarkets will charge you 10 cents for each plastic bag you use (if you forget to bring green bags). But as mentioned, these bags make excellent bin liners, in fact the new ones they have brought out that they charge you for are generally bigger and are classified as bio-degradeable (how bio-degradeable, I don't know). But heres the rub, a bag of 25 bin liners I bought the other day were $2.30. At 10 cents a plastic bag from the checkout, it is costing me roughly the same - these bags actually seem to be more environmentally friendly than the 25 GLAD ones I am buying. Why am I going to the trouble of taking my green bags again? What is my motivation?
 

Jafa

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 4, 2002
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Those green bags aren't canvas, they're plastic too, I don't think it would be a real good idea to put them on your garden.
It's better than using large rolls of builders plastic. The bags I use are porous which allows the rainfall through and keeps the weeds at bay.
 

bit_pattern

Norm Smith Medallist
Suspended
Feb 6, 2008
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classified as bio-degradeable (how bio-degradeable, I don't know).
No such thing as truly biodegradable plastic, turns out the stuff just breaks down into smaller and smaller molecules that eventually enter the food chain. In the distant future the Age of Humans will be marked by a thin geological layer of plastic.
 

cancat

Cancelled
Jun 4, 2007
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No such thing as truly biodegradable plastic, turns out the stuff just breaks down into smaller and smaller molecules that eventually enter the food chain. In the distant future the Age of Humans will be marked by a thin geological layer of plastic.
The plastocene epoch.
 

lemon chicken

Cancelled
Jan 31, 2008
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I don't know how much shopping some of you people do, but most families would need a minimum of 10 plastic bags a week for their shopping & I'm sure they don't need to use that many for their rubbish every week. The canvas bags last for years & as someone mentioned, make good weed mats once they are no longer usable.

If you recycle & use compost bins, then you should have very little non recyclable rubbish.

Also, you need to use more plastic bags for your shopping than canvas bags, because plastic bags tend to break if too much is put in them.
I live alone so normally dont do big grocery shops, but if i pack the bags myself at a self service check out i would have about 3-4 bags a week. If i went through a normal register that amount would be around 7-8 bags. Ive never had a bag break on the way to the car. People still dont realise that a fair amount of plastic packaging is not recyclable due to the type of plastic not being identified with a symbol on it and if it is clean enough to be reworked.
 

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