Poor old Coles. In an attempt to listen to its customers over plastic bag use, activists push for a boycott against the supermarket chain! Yet why aren’t these same activists openly protesting in front of department stores or retail chains who brazenly use plastic bags to help their customers carry often bulky items? Why aren’t take away food court vendors openly shouted at when handing over plastic cutlery? Why is Coles subject to social media thuggery when the plethora or other retail chains escape? Talk about double standards.
While we’re at it, do people realize that the majority of take away wax-lined coffee cups aren’t recycled even though you can feel good about yourself when disposing of it? How many people elect to have their brew poured into a ceramic cup? Look net time – hardly any! The cost to recycle the 500 billion (and rising) coffee cups consumed annually is so astronomical (it is hard to separate the wax that stops the cup disintegrating because of the energy intensity involved to do so) that over 90% end up in landfill. No one talks about that 300 million tons of virgin paper used to make these cups! How many of us give it one thought when we need a shot of caffeine? Right?! Although Starbucks is trialing a 5p latte levy for those that elect to use a paper cup.
A decade ago, Japanese retailer Fast Retailing publisher in its annual report:
“Additionally, in December 2007 UNIQLO introduced polyethylene shopping bags using the “Nano Hybrid Capsule 2 (NHC2) additive.” These were researched and developed by Professor Masahiko Abe at the Science and Engineering Department of the Tokyo University of Science. NHC2 helps increase the strength of the bag and reduces its weight by roughly 20% and CO2 emitted during incineration by about 40%. This new shopping bag thus reduces about 60% of CO2 emitted altogether compared to the previous model.”
Most supermarket shopping bags used in Australia before the self-imposed ban were biodegradable.
In 2006 the UK Environment Agency did a study on the effectiveness of alternative packaging solutions to HDPE (conventional plastic bags) in terms of lowering environmental impact. It said,
“The paper, LDPE, non-woven PP and cotton bags should be reused at least 3, 4, 11 and 131 times respectively to ensure that they have lower [impact] than conventional HDPE carrier bags that are not reused.”
So if conventional shopping bags are used to throw out garbage that means 6, 8, 21 and 262 days.
So we can virtue signal all we like. No one wants to see irresponsible use of disposable plastics cause damage to the environment but this idea that some think government intervention is the answer is palpable. In Australia’s case, after examining the most ridiculously incompetent stewardship over power generation in a country endowed with cheap energy sources (we manage blackouts and $1200kWh surges in spot pricing) they have none of the prerequisites to manage disposable shopping bags.