Below are answers to some of the more common questions we see regarding our products. We also invite you to look at our blog for other questions and answers or to send your questions about packaging sustainability to us through our FaceBook page or Twitter account.
Are QuikMateEZ® bags recyclable?
Yes! Our plastic retail bags and produce bags are 100% recyclable and often reused at home for bin liners, pet waste and other uses. If you are going to recycle your bags we recommend returning them to a local store that accepts them for recycling and not curbside recycling programs. For more information visit www.abagslife.com.
Did you know that about 60-75% of plastic retail bags are reused rather than recycled?
What are plastic retail and produce bags made of?
Plastic retail bags like all of our direct and indirect food packaging materials are engineered for food safety and FDA standards. NOVOLEX plastic retail and produce bags are only made with High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), Calcium, and FDA approved colorants. None of our plastic retail or produce bags have ever contained Bisphenol-A (BPA), Phthalates, or any other of the chemical additives known as endocrine disruptors. All of our materials comply with legislation known as toxins in packaging or CONEG regulations. Each year we require our suppliers to certify that all our ingredients continue to meet this standard. Our recycled content materials are tracked from source to use and tested multiple times to ensure that none of the recovered materials introduce any of these items as well. As an additional control measure we only use virgin material for direct food contact packaging such as produce bags. Lastly any printing is done with water soluble inks. As a company focused on social responsibility worker and product safety are our top two priorities.
Are plastic retail bags made from Oil?
No. Plastic retail bags manufactured in the United States are made primarily from Polyethylene which is made from naphtha, a byproduct of natural gas refining in North America. Rather than flaring off this byproduct it is used to produce polyethylene when natural gas is refined. Actually natural gas is not extracted to produce the polyethylene, rather it can be said that the rate of production is driven by the demand for refined natural gas for heating and energy. If we stopped consuming polyethylene it would not impact extraction. This is the same material used to make many medical devices and other common food packaging such as milk and orange juice jugs, detergent bottles, and other common kitchen items.
I heard there is enough energy in a plastic bag to drive a car a short distance, is this true?
This is a misnomer. Polyethylene is made from a portion of natural gas that is not used for energy when it is refined. These elements would not have been redirected toward fuel if they were not used to make plastic resin. Actually decades ago this bi-product may have been flared off during a refining process. Highly efficient refining doesn’t waste these elements in modern chemistry and they are used to produce a safe non-toxic, versatile and recyclable packaging material.
What can be recycled in the Bag-2-Bag recycling programs?
Many polyethylene bags and films can be recycled in store take back programs like our Bag-2-Bag programs. Some of those items are:
For more information and to locate a Bag-2-Bag® or other store take back program near you visit www.abagslife.com or www.plasticbagrecycling.org.
Are bags made with high levels of recycled content inferior in quality?
No! Plastic bags made with high levels of recycled content pass the exact same quality tests prior to leaving our facility.
Do bags made with recycled content cost more than bags made from virgin material?
No. Recycled content is just as cost effective as virgin material.
Does EcoCraft® packaging cost more than bleached packaging?
EcoCraft® packaging is competitive with bleached packaging. One of the key reasons for the rapid growth of our EcoCraft® flexible foodservice packaging brand is our insistence that these products be developed with a focus on economic sustainability. To make a significant impact on reducing the waste of raw materials, we must keep our EcoCraft® products affordable so they can be purchased in higher volumes. This practical approach also allows us to consult more consumers and businesses on the fundamentals of sustainable packaging. The rapid brand growth and positive environmental impact helps us spread the momentum of change so that more food service businesses will understand the benefits of taking simple steps with their packaging on their journey toward a sustainable future.
Is paper compostable? Are EcoCraft® products compostable?
Yes, in most cases paper is compostable because it is made from the cellulose fibers of a tree or other natural fiber source. We were the first flexible foodservice packaging company to have our environmentally improved product line certified by Cedar Grove composting in the Northwest in 2007. Our Cedar Grove certified products are listed on the their website. (http://www.cedar-grove.com/acceptable/Accepted%20List.asp). We update the information as more products are accepted by Cedar Grove. Lightweight food grade paper is compostable in most cases. Industrial composting is an excellent waste stream choice for food grade flexible packaging. We support the expansion of the composting waste stream so that we can all drive more of our paper based packaging into this end of life scenario. Bag Craft is a members of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. We supported and participated in the recent project by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition to study the “local realities” of compostable waste streams. You can review the study titled “Compostable Packaging: The reality on the ground” on the S.P.C. website. (http://www.sustainablepackaging.org/projects/?project=Projects)
Can you use post consumer waste recycled pulp content in your EcoCraft® foodservice packaging?
We are carefully pursuing this option. Our largest concern is based on public safety due to the concerns over the direct contact of fresh consumable food with post consumer waste recycled paper. The Food & Drug Administration does allow some post consumer recycled waste to be used in flexible paper food packaging but it must be carefully screened and compliant with their strict guidelines for purity and sourcing. One of our current concerns is the functionality of PCW paper in foodservice applications that require grease and moisture barriers. We continue to lobby suppliers for improvements to the quality, functionality and availability of unbleached FDA “direct food contact” compliant paper. Early in 2010 we started the process of trialing a new generation of food grade PCW natural paper to test it against our high standards of safety, functionality, quality, and affordability. We are making strides in our journey of improvement and we hope to introduce EcoCraft® PCW recycled packages in 2011.
Can you recycle paper based food packaging?
The answer really depends on the waste sorting abilities of the local recycling company in your area. Used flexible packaging that has food build up or stains is often sorted out of the recycling waste stream. There are a few local companies that have alternative waste streams set up for fiber based packaging to divert it away from the landfill into alternative waste streams. Waxed paper or paperboard is rarely accepted by sorting plants that feed the recycling waste stream. In the future, industrial recyclers will expand their sorting capabilities and technologies to process more materials than they do today. Until those changes happen we can still make an impact by focusing our sustainable improvement efforts on the raw material at the beginning of a package’s life cycle. We see a promising future in converting recycled post consumer waste paper that is made from the corrugated box waste stream. This natural unbleached recycled paper helps close the loop and allows us to expand our sustainable impact.