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Back to the future with paper bags

There was sugar paper for sugar, and greaseproof paper for fish and meat, and cardboard for strawberries and blackberries.

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Morrisons are to bring back paper bags to replace plastic

Even chocolate and biscuits were usually neatly packaged in paper and silver foil while much food was sold loose and you took things with you called shopping bags. And then came plastic bags and plastic packaging and within 60 years the world faces a plastic crisis.

Morrisons has made the decision this month to switch back to paper bags which they say will have a see-though paper strip so you can see what’s inside the bag. And in a throwback to the 1950s they say customers who bring their own containers to the butcher and fishmonger counters will gain extra loyalty points on their card. Other supermarkets are also moving in the same direction with Marks and Spencer pledging that by 2022 all its product packaging will be recyclable. All the main supermarkets signed up to a sustainability campaign group WRAP's Plastic Pact, with the aim of making all plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 20125.

It is clearly good news for the printing, ink, paper and pulp industries but also logistics as paper is slightly heavier to carry by truck and train and so it will increase costs for transport. So bizarrely there could be an increase in diesel fumes as a result but a decrease in the amount of trash going to landfill. The most important point is if other nations follow the example already set in Scandinavia and the Low Countries there will be less plastic ending up in the oceans and blighting our countryside. At present only nine percent of plastic packaging is recycled, 12 percent is incinerated and 79 percent goes into landfill.

Supermarkets are not the only place where single use packaging is a problem. Airline flights, festivals and our own industry with its use of using plastic wrapping to secure print and signage for transportation are areas that need a rethink. Talking of festivals, the Hay Festival, held in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales last month has been criticised in the past for the vast waste caused by single use plastic cups for drinks. This year they reduced the waste by using Green Goblet whose Corretto Cup made by Amaray. It features Bockatech’s Eco Core foam core walls which encourage heat retention internally whilst preventing scalding to the hands externally. The cup is made from a single polypropylene plastic, making it rigid, durable, and perfect for multiple uses. At the end of its life it is 100% recyclable. It’s a step in the redirection and shows where there’s a will there’s a way.

More forests will need to be planted as the demand for paper increases which will help to lock up CO2 but with an increased demand globally for paper products the price of paper could continue to rise. To paraphrase that Biblical-esque prophet of the environment David Attenborough: “The Lord taketh with one hand and giveth with another.”

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