The decision to go “green” and develop environmentally friendly shopping bags and retail packaging presents no shortage of conflicting ethical, practical and legal factors to consider.
The base material your packaging is manufactured from is one of the most important elements to review. Optimal Eco-conscious base materials are made from recycled or renewable content that is easily available.
Mixing materials makes recycling in standard waste streams a challenge. The best solution utilizes a die-cut handle or another handle style that is the same base material as the bag. Laminated finishes add a plastic coating to paper and make recycling difficult. Most plastic laminate films will also not degrade naturally.
The guide below is to help you make educated material choices when developing environmentally conscious shopping bags and packaging. However, all projects are specific to individual needs. Contacting a retail packaging specialist at ModernArts will assure your brand’s Eco-friendly packaging efforts are on track.
Green, Eco Friendly Shopping Bag and Retail Packaging Base Material Guide
The Charts In Our Eco Guide Are Based On The Following Criteria
Potential to Use Recycled Materials – Recycled material can be efficiently used for production and is easily available or stocked as a standard base material option.
Recyclability – Base material(s) are easy to recycle in standard waste streams.
Reusability – The likelihood that the end consumer will use a bag more than just to transport merchandise after the initial purchase.
Biodegradability – Bag is produced with materials that will safely degrade naturally over time.
Pollution Generated During Production – How the processes of manufacturing and transport of materials used for production impact the environment.
Carbon Footprint – Environmental impact of the transport necessary for final delivery of bags.
Health Contamination – Possibility of the bags harboring germs or other health concerns during re-use.
Sheet-Fed paper bags are also known as Euro shoppers or totes. These paper bags start as a sheet of paper and are converted typically by hand. Euro shoppers are used by luxury retailers worldwide and offer the flexibility to allow for a very environmentally friendly shopping bag solution. Die-cut or paper are ideal handle types as they allow for the maximum usage of recycled post-consumer waste (PCW) material. These handle styles will also not introduce a second base material to the bag construction that will make recycling in standard waste streams more difficult.
Roll-to-roll bags are also known as traditional shopping bags. These paper bags start as a roll of paper and are converted by machine into a bag. Traditional bags typically have a serrated edge top and twisted paper handles. They are one of the most recongnizable styles of shopping bags globally. This bag style offers less flexibility than a sheet-fed bag, but can still be a very environmentally friendly shopping bag solution. For the same reasons as sheet-fed, die-cut or paper are ideal handle types.
Plastic shopping bags come in a wide variety of styles and film types. Typically they are produced overseas and converted from film to bag by machinery. Biodegradable films are available, but most standard plastic films will not degrade naturally. This makes plastic bags less appealing as an ECO solution. There are also many hidden health hazards related to re-usable plastic bags depending no the bags intended application or end use. Most plastic films also cannot be easily processed by standard waste stream equipment.
Natural fabric such as cotton, jute or canvas are often utilized for making re-usable shopping bags. Natural materials without any type of non-natural finish will degrade naturally over time. While they are not typically recycled in standard waste streams, the potential for reuse is much stronger than other shopping totes. These bags are also stronger than most paper or plastic alternatives.
All projects have very specific and individual needs. Contacting a retail packaging specialist at ModernArts will assure your brand’s Eco-friendly packaging efforts are on track.
If you are interested in environmentally friendly retail packaging products visit our green shopping bag and packaging page for “real” green packaging solutions.
You can also browse Green Custom Retail Bags