There are many green terms out there right now, and it can be confusing to remember them all, let alone know the pros and cons of each environmental solution or improvement. We created a short list of the frequently used terms and walked through their meanings. In the spirit of transparency, we are not scientists or environmental engineers, but we have a lot of collective knowledge about sustainable plastic bags and offer a few of these solutions.
- Compostable – these bags will break down into water, carbon dioxide, and inert materials but need to go to an industrial composting facility to be composted properly. Composting facilities typically are processing municipal sewage sludge along with lawn waste and leaves from the community. It is important to note that industrial composting facilities are not available in many communities, or they may not be interested in collecting foodservice packaging, so the compostable bags could still end up in a landfill unless you compost them in your back yard. These bags are not recyclable with other plastic bags.
- Biodegradable – Synonymous with Compostable. For something to be compostable it must biodegrade, which means it can be consumed by microorganisms and broken down to CO2, water and inert materials.
- Bioplastics – Instead of sourcing the plastic from petroleum-based products, these plastics are made from renewable sources like vegetable oils and starches from plants, to name a few. It’s important to note that not all bioplastics are biodegradable. Additionally, not all bioplastics reduce the environmental impact of petroleum-based plastics because of the water and land use as well as the use of fertilization, not to mention the impact of using edible crops for fuel instead of as food.
- Recycled Content – This has two subcategories depending on the source of the recycled material. As a rule of thumb, bags made with recycled content can be recycled again and again. You should look at the resin identification code inside of the recycling symbol to determine which bin to put your recyclable bag into. But generally, your grocery store should have a collection bin at the store.
- PIR – Post-Industrial Recycled material means that the plastic was recycled from an industrial setting. For example, the trim scrap from our production gets recycled to produce more bags instead of sending them to a landfill.
- PCR – Post-Consumer Recycled material means that the bags were used for their intended purpose, and the consumer responsibly recycled the material.
Including recycled content in the bags is important as it supports plastic recycling programs by providing a value-added outlet for the materials being recycled.
- Reusable – These bags are much thicker than the standard “single-use” bags. Depending on the requirements of local legislation, bags can range from 2.25 -4 mil in thickens and are strong enough to withstand 100 reuses. These bags, if made from plastic, can be recycled.
- Virgin – most bags are made from virgin material, meaning it was sourced from the brand new raw materials. These bags are recyclable, and the recycling number will tell you how it should be recycled.
- Environmentally Friendly – This term is kind of frowned upon by the powers that be as it is too ambiguous and flowery. We might prefer to use a term like “reduced environmental impact” or “improved sustainability impacts” when describing material changes that help the environment.
Pak-Sher offers multiple options for customers that are looking to reduce their environmental impact, and we would be happy to work with you to find a solution that works best for you. Feel free to reach out to us in the chat bar (to your right) or give us a call at 903-984-8596.