Biodegradable Food Storage Bags

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One of the most difficult things for me to reduce my use of is the plastic kitchen storage bag. I use the one gallon plastic bags mostly for storing produce. Although they do get used to store a few other items, like opened blocks of cheese, I have not found any substitute that works as well as the plastic bag to preserve the freshness of vegetables and lettuce in the refrigerator. My wife did just bring home a cloth bag that is supposed to be good for storing lettuce. I have not tried it yet, but will and see how it works.

In the spring, summer and fall I grow organic lettuce in the garden. I like the lettuce best when I harvest it just before eating, then washing, drying and putting it directly into the salad bowl. However, because several people in the family also enjoy the lettuce at different times, I typically pick a lot of it at one time. I then wash it, spin it dry and store it in the one gallon bags in the refrigerator for instant availability. I do wonder about gasses the bags might give off affecting the lettuce. But that may be worrying a bit too much.

I have thought about using plastic containers to store the lettuce. What I would really like to see is an inexpensive line of storage bags made from cellulose or some other easily biodegradable material. The key word here is “inexpensive”. I was able to find several sites on-line that sell cellulose food storage bags. For the 1 gallon size, prices ranged from 16 cents to 32 cents per bag, plus shipping costs. By contrast, at our local grocery, the most expensive 1 gallon plastic bag with twist tie top was 6 cents per bag. Generic brands can be found for 3 cents each. When the plastic bag costs 3 – 6 cents and the environmentally friendly bag costs 3 to 10 times as much, which one do you think 99.99% percent of consumers will buy?

There are now many kitchen products made from biodegradable material. Some examples are the dish drying rack made from cornstarch or the cutting board made from sustainably harvested cork or bamboo. But again, the main problem with products like these is the higher cost. It is one thing to say that the higher cost is justified, but quite another to expect wide scale acceptance of a more expensive product, even if it is greener.

This may be an example of what JD at Techfun has referred to a few times in his comments. He feels efforts for change should be put forth in places where they stand the best chance of making a difference. Asking people to pay many times more for a greener food storage bag is probably not something that will meet with success.

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Will Sig
1 Bioplast

There is a solution and much better alternative to levying, recycling and reusable canvas grocery bags for those who forgets their canvas bag at home or in the car which is called “BIOPLAST Biodegradable Plastics.”

Bioplast is a manufacturing company of BIOPLAST Branded Biodegradable Garbage Bags and Fridge Bags for the household markets and for the industry as well as Biodegradable Carrier Bags and Vegie Bags for the retail sector using their own patented unique formula of bacteria enzyme base substrate as against starch base as used by other manufacturers world over which is not as strong or durable as polymer (plastic) bags and has a cost addition of 300%-400%. Also starch based products can comprise of genetically modified crops (GM Crops) which contains PLA the substitutes can increase emissions of greenhouse gases on landfill sites and releases Methane which is 23 times more damaging than the C02 that Al and Goreites have demonized and cannot be recycled in Britain. See The Guardian reported “Corn starch based material can damage the environment”;

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/apr/26/waste.pollution

Bioplast is the only Biodegradable technology in the world using bacteria enzyme base substrate which is 100% biodegradable within 6 months after disposal as per ASTM-D 5988-1996 and EN 13432:2000/ISO 14855 standards with the lowest cost addition of 15%-20%.

Bioplast biodegradable products are also compostable and hence enhancing the nutritive value of the remaining soil. All the ingredients of Bioplast biodegradable plastic products are food grade and non-toxic in nature therefore suitable to be in contact with food products.

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2 Swubird

Will:

You’re right about that. If people have to pay more for their green products, the green product market will definitely suffer. It’s like getting people to recycle. If they have to separate their recyclables into different bins, they simply don’t do as well as people who are allowed to commingle their trash and recyclables. It’s just human behavior. The more trouble it is – the less likely they’ll do it.

Then there’s the problem with with the supply side of green products. Everything that’s good, and good for the environment, carries a premium price tag. And it’s not always because those things are more expensive to produce. It’s because that’s what the market will bare. Go to your local car dealership and look around. The popular vehicles will always have a premium attached to the sticker price. By the time you finish paying off the premium, the savings are lost.

My proposal is that all goods and services should be affixed with a label that discloses the energy units to produce that product, or service. This would be similar to the ingredients on your typical food item. Or the warnings on a pack of smokes. With super, high speed computers that can handle multi-variant analysis this type of calculation should be possible. That way we can all compare horses to horses, cars to cars, tomatoes to tomatoes, and plastic bags to plastic bags.

Another great post, Will.

Swubirds last blog post..WHITE LIGHTNING!

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3 Karl

dear Swubird,

We should never even BEGIN to think that humans will routinely act on behalf of the community-good, if there is NO visible utility to themselves in their forseeable future. Stop listening to deranged SocialJusticeWarriors who say otherwise. It hasn’t happened till now – it’s never gonna happen.

The more pragmatic thing to to deal is – introduce at least one tiny positive incentive to do good; and at least one tiny negative incentive against doing wrong.

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4 heidi

I agree with you on this that although it would be great, I doubt a large portion of the public would be willing to spend more for a greener storage bag. I think that in general people want to be more environment friendly but can be deterred by the costs of doing so. Great post as usual.

heidis last blog post..EZGreatLife.com-Family, Fitness & Finances

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5 Will

You are right Swubird and that is one of the things that bugs me about green products and organic food. That sellers see them as premium items that can be marked up for a bigger profit. It is not the whole contributor to the problem, but part of it. I am working on a post on the subject.

I wonder how “energy units” would be determined. That sort of thing is so subjective. I am also working on the whole idea of food from far away costing more in energy. It is not that simple. The distance the food travels is only a small part of determining it’s energy footprint.

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6 Will

Yes, Heidi – The cost of these things becomes even more of a problem as the cost of conventional food and products inflates at the current rapid rate.

Thanks to both of you for your comments!

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7 Bob

Great post Will, I am learning so much here, right now we use tupperware for most of our storage, trying to convince my wife to spend more on storage bags would be close to impossible.

Bobs last blog post..Lunar Mercury Conjunction

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8 paulm

Reply to BioPlast (Comment #1):

I have been following your endless blog postings of your claims, why are you so desperate for sales? I think I know why!

Your ‘so called’ Bioplast in NOT a Bioplastic, it is NOT certified as biodegradable OR compostable by any of the authorities(OK Compost, BPI, DIN CERTCO) that issue the specifications you claim, in fact the ONLY people that have ‘tested’ your products are YOU!!

Your BioPlast is made from FOSSIL FUEL based plastic, producing millions of tonnes of greenhouse gasses worldwide in manufacturing.

Plastics are proven to attract high levels of poisonous chemicals, and your BioPlast will break down into small particles that after collecting poisonous chemicals, could be taken up by the food chain and poison the eco-system, right up to us.

Your BioPlast is ADDING to greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, these are the cause of climate change that is linked to increasing crop failures.

The answer is NOT Mr BioPLast and his enzymes !!

The answer is plant based plastics 😉

Plant based plastics ARE biodegradable and compostable(many compostable at home) and certified as such.

Plant based plastics REDUCE greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as the plants grow. Growing more plants for plastic would REDUCE greenhouse gases and help reverse climate change AND crop failures.

One study shows that “every pound of soy-based polymers produced instead of petroleum-based removes 2.1 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere”.

Another study shows that in manufacture, plant based plastics use 30% less energy and create just 25% of the greenhouse gases that fossil fuel plastics do. Also starch based plastics consume 2190 kg of GHG per tonne of plastic whilst the plants are growing.

If you want plant based plastic bags, made from potato and corn starch, and manufactured in the UK,(and cheaper than Tesco or Sainsburys!) head to:

http://www.comp-bio.co.uk

For the plant based plastic just go to:

http://www.stanelcoplc.com

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9 Will

Hi Paul – Why do you think the UK is ahead of the curve on so many issues like this? I have been writing about the importance of Ethical food also. I am almost a lone voice in the U.S., but it is a common idea in the UK.

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10 Garment racks

To look on the upside, if you are using gallon bags, you are probably cutting down on the trash from individually wrapped or small quantity food. I like the idea of plant based too. How long can billions of people dispose of plastic bags?

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11 GR

To look on the upside, if you are using gallon bags, you are probably cutting down on the trash from individually wrapped or small quantity food. I like the idea of plant based too. How long can billions of people dispose of plastic bags?

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12 2009 Thomas wylde

actually i think we should reduce using the plastic bags more and more. goverment should make some laws and customers should pay high extra tax if they wanna use them

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13 alice

it is true that “Asking people to pay many times more for a greener food storage bag is probably not something that will meet with success.” but i am afraid it is nothing to do with” need do like that or not ” but you have to in one day when sources on the earth has been exhausted and severly polluted. it is serious problem even today.

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14 Juicy Couture

A greener storage bag would be a great idea if the costs could be kept down. Seems to me that it would benefit everyone to make affordable ways to get greener zip locks because in the end it makes less waste for everyone. But cost is always a good incentive.

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15 Jess Holroyd

I have not used the plastic bags for a long time.I use the shopping tote to carry the kitchen rubbish.But I have to wash it every time.

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16 Swubird

Will:

I agree with JD. Forcing environmental consciousness will never work over the long run. You have to provide positive incentives and make it as convenient as possible. Curbside recycling is a good example.

The majority of people don’t like to separate their recyclables into several different receptacles: glass, paper, cardboard, plastic, etc. They would rather dump them all into one barrel and let the refuse hauler do the separating. That’s why single barrel recycling has proven to be a successful program across the country. You include the extra cost as part of the overall bill. It’ easy, and it’s convenient.

Americans are an independent lot. They don’t want to be forced to do anything. They’ll view the forced purchase of a fancy market bag as a cost savings for the market—one that’s not passed onto the customer. They won’t like that, so they’ll resist it. I would too. Of course, some people will go along with the program, but I believe they will be in the minority.

I believe plastic bags provided free at the point of purchase is the best way to go. Plastic is reusable over and over again as well as recyclable. In my opinion, plastic is a recycling winner.

Happy trails.
.-= Swubird´s last blog ..REX’S FAMOUS STEAK HOUSE =-.

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17 michael

I also flush my dog’s poop down the toilet with a flushable doggy waste bag. Most eco-friendly way to get ride of dog poop.

The company is called Flush Doggy.

There are flushable dog poop bags. The best answer probably because dog poop can get treated just as your poop is.

FlushDoggy, is a fully biodegradable, flushable(water soluble) dog waste bag that is very eco-friendly.

Dog doodies are best to be flushed down the toilet and degrade naturally , just as our own doodies. Stop destroying our earth and start educating the public, one poop at a time. Be a responsible owner and go green for our pets.

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18 Will

Thanks Michael! I like it. Look for an upcoming post on the subject.

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19 Will

You are so right Swubird! The place I work has co-mingled recycling bins. 95% of the resident use them and I bet if they had to separate, the usage would be below 50 percent.

Funny story is that I sometimes ask why people don’t recycle. Usually it is a version of “too much trouble or work”. One resident, when asked why they did not use the provided recycling bin as their trash can was filled to overflowing every week with about 1/2 half of it being recyclables provided a their very serious answer, and I swear to the truth of this…. “We are politically opposed to all forms of recycling”. Can you believe??!!

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20 Bob

The only time I use plastic bags is for when I collect meteorites in them, and I use them over and over again,lol.

Just wait, corporations are all going green and at least with our company they have great educational programs helping us to make the right choice, it is only a manner of time before everyone is on board thanks to the ever increasing Government regulations, they are coming from what I’ve been told at least up here in Canada.
.-= Bob´s last blog ..UFO In China =-.

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21 food storage

The majority of people don’t like to separate their recyclables into several different receptacles: glass, paper, cardboard, plastic, etc. They would rather dump them all into one barrel and let the refuse hauler do the separating.

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22 Anonymous

The majority of people don’t like to separate their recyclables into several different receptacles: glass, paper, cardboard, plastic, etc. They would rather dump them all into one barrel and let the refuse hauler do the separating.

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23 Hannah Hamilton

Well said Will . I will definitely agree with you , what you have said is perfectly
right .Everyone wants to be Eco friendly , willingly no one wants to do harm to the environment. We are ready to use Biodegradable Food Storage Bags , but if they cost too much , we will automatically shift to the cheaper ones – plastic bags.

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24 Will

Yes Hannah, the prices I find for biodegradable are 5 or 6 times up to 10 times the price of regular plastic bags. There won’t be widespread adoption at those prices.

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25 Deepak

Instead plastic storage you should use Tupperware products It’s made from high quality materials that will not release harmful chemicals into your food.No more disposable bottles, Containers or plastic bags. Use Tupperware instead. Help reduce waste contribution.
Deepak recently posted..It’s our best year in India- amid the global crisisMy Profile

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26 Anonymous

I agree with Deepak, it’s definitely best to reduce your waste as much as possible as opposed to consuming bio bags.

The one thing that needs to be clarified is the price and type of bio bags. You can get oxo-bio bags which are degradable additives added to standard plastic which causes it to break down usually in 1-5 years. These cost about 1.5 times as much as normal plastic.

If you go with a compostable corn starch or pla based plastic though which breaks down in a couple months then the price is 7+ times higher.

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27 Sheila

What many of you are forgetting about the cost: the reason green products cost more is simple economics: fewer people use them, therefore the volume of sales is LOW. As a result, the cost per unit to the manufacturer is HIGHER. Therefore, they have to charge more per unit in order to meet their production costs and show an acceptable profit.

Example: the reason canned soups are so cheap is that there is a huge market for them. therefore the manufacturers make their profit on VOLUME of sales. If the volume of sales were significantly lower, then the cost for a can of soup would be significantly higher.

If the demand for green products were higher, the volume of sales would go up, and the cost per unit would go down.

I don’t really know what the answer to this problem is.

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28 Andersen

I totally agree with your points.Because it is absolutely true that reducing the use of plastic bags is one of the most difficult tasks. But there are so many kitchen products made from biodegradable material.

Some examples are the dish drying rack made from bamboo. All these materials are eco-friendly and also it has so side effect to our environment.The main advantages of biodegradable bags are:

Biodegradable packaging and biodegradable bags take much less time to break down after being discarded if they haven’t been recycled, of course.

Biodegradable plastics are much better for the environment because there is no harm done to the earth when recovering fossil fuels. Also, in this process, there are very few greenhouse gas and harmful carbon emissions. Regular plastics need oil for their manufacturing, which pollutes the environment.

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29 Robert

Hey Buddy,

Nice post!

I like the content as well as the topic of the post. As far as biodegradable bags are are concerned, ” these are the bags that are capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms”. Hence these bags do not cause any kind of pollution.

Use of such bags for packing food is a good idea as it would not spoil the food neither it would result into foul smell for the food.

The points you mentioned above are worth considering and I found all of it helpful and true about these bags.

Thank You Foe Sharing This Post!
Have A Nice Day! 🙂

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