Supermarket bag report withdrawn by Environment Agency
The UK Environment Agency (EA) has temporarily withdrawn its report SC030148: Lifecycle Assessment of Supermarket Carrier Bags while a legal query is resolved.
By Barry Copping
Posted 27 July 2011
The report, still accessible in the public domain via the Internet, shows that re-use of bags rather than the material of which they are made per se is the critical factor in reducing environmental impact – and so-called “green” bags may perform badly in a comprehensive lifecycle assessment.
In particular, according to the report, a cotton bag would have to be used at least 131 times to ensure that it has a lower global warming potential than a conventional “single use” lightweight HDPE carrier bag that is not reused. Paper and compostable bioplastic bags also show higher global warming potential than the conventional bag.
EPI Environmental Products, the Canada-based producer of oxo-biodegradable additives used to render conventional plastics degradable and biodegradable, participated in the study leading to the report. The company provided conventional plastic bags containing its TDPA degradable additive for evaluation.
An EPI spokesman commented: “We welcome this type of scientific approach to examining environmental benefit. EPI is committed to substantiation of environmental claims and is pleased that the [withdrawn] EA report shows that the attacks on the conventional plastic bag by the media, environmentalists and bioplastics lobbyists are completely unfounded.
“Based on these findings, the efforts to eliminate conventional plastic bags and to replace them with supposedly better environmental alternatives have to be considered both misguided and without any scientific basis. In particular. there is absolutely no justification for the aggressive promotion of compostable bioplastics by bioplastics proponents as alternatives to conventional plastics.”
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