New plastic shopping bags are not so ‘green’ –

Posted on December 28, 2011 by DrRossH in Plastic Waste News

It is hard to believe a whole country like Dubai can be fooled by green washing salesmen.  Oxodegradable bags are possibly worse for the environment than the original plastic bags that virtually last forever.

Oxodegradable bags;

·         will fragment into little pieces that then will blow around getting into every where including our water ways.   Do we want this?

·         will fall apart on customers.

·         will not degrade in a landfill as they only degrade in the presence of sunlight and oxygen.  So bags going to landfills will last as long as conventional bags.  i.e they are just as long lasting

·         cannot be recycled any more, they have to be disposed off.  This has made a true one off use bag, they were better off before.


Manufacturers of oxo-biodegradable bags said that, despite some limitations, they were still the most environmentally friendly alternative.   This is greenwashing.   These bags are worse for the environment as explained above.  The makers of the oxodegradable additives are losing market share to the newer and indeed more environmental friendly additives that allow bags to naturally biodegrade in a landfill. 

“Eventually the molecules will be so degraded that microbes will be able to consume them.”   The oxo additive manufactures like to claim this and their salesmen are quick to push this claimed attribute, but there is not one ASTM or equivalent study they quote that proves they will biodegrade.  The little bits of plastic the bags fragment into are still little bits of plastic now blowing around the environment.

Landfill Biodegradable bags

The government ought to have looked a landfill biodegradable bags.   These are bags made with an additive that attracts naturally occurring bacteria in a landfill to digest the bags.  Prior to going to a landfill, the bags perform just like a conventional bag with no strength degradation, can be reused multiple times, can be recycled with mainstream recycling.  Only when they are in a landfill with they start to biodegrade.

The jute and paper bags would be better options over all.  But please not oxodegradable bags.

New plastic shopping bags are not so ‘green’ – The National.