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How Green is your Ecobag?

Friday, May 06, 2016 | Comments (0)

Green bags, enviro bags, eco bags, shopping bags, even Coles or Woolies bags.  We recognise all the alternative names, but how 'environmentally friendly' are the non woven promotional bags that we are used to seeing at trade shows and shopping centres across Australia? So what is NWPP or eco bag material

NWPP (non-woven polypropylene) is a thermoplastic polymer - a type of plastic that can be melted down and recycled into such things as garden stakes, garden furniture and flower pots.

It is called non-woven due to the thatched pattern on the material that is stamped on to make it look woven.

Whilst these bags are made from a thermoplastic polymer, there is substantial proof that it's not just another plastic. It is recyclable and leaves a smaller ecological footprint than many other plastics.

The Greenpeace pyramid of plastics

The Greenpeace pyramid of plastics ranks plastics into four groups according to their hazardous characteristics.

PVC, the most problematic and polluting plastic, is at the top of the pyramid at number one, while biobased plastics, the least polluting are number four at the pyramid's base. Polypropylene (PP) is just above biobased plastics at number three along with PET (the material used to make recyclable plastic bottles).

Greenpeace pyramid of plastics

  1. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other halogenated plastics
  2. Polyurethane (PU), Polystyrene (PS), Acrylonitrile- butadiene-styrene (ABS), Polycarbonate (PC)
  3. Polyethylene-terephthalate (PET), Polyolefins (PE, PP, NWPP etc.)
  4. Biobased plastics

Like PET, it is up to us to make sure the bags are disposed of in a way that will see them recycled. This means on your next supermarket shop, take along your old bags and put them in the recycle bin that is usually prominently placed near the entrance.

NWPP vs Calico (cotton)

People often request calico bags as they are seen as the original 'enviro' bag. Interestingly, Zero Waste South Australia produced a report stating that polypropylene has lower greenhouse gas impact and energy use in manufacture than either paper or calico (including production of raw materials).

Calico (cotton) also uses vast amounts of water and pesticide. It is considered the world's dirtiest crop due to its heavy use of pesticides. It is not recommended when compared to the NWPP bag.

Best bang for your buck

For business owners wanting value for money and brand exposure, non-woven polypropylene is strongly recommended. It is strong, well priced, can be made to any colour, and print options are vibrant and unlimited.

For tote/ carry bags, drawstring sports bag, heavy duty shopping bags, or all purpose bags that fit your gym shoes, consider putting your brand or logo on some and get them walking around the country promoting your business.

They are generally available for around $1 a bag and can't be beaten for the price.

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