For two consecutive deliveries, Peapod's service provided my $150+ grocery order in so many plastic handle grocery bags, it was astonishing. In fact, the nice young delivery man seemed embarrassed by the glut of plastic bags. Many bags held only one container of yogurt (I ordered six yogurts, which arrived in three separate plastic bags) or two bananas, or half a pound of cheese. I realize items come from different departments in the store or warehouse, but there must be a better way. The driver kindly offered to recycle the bags for me; I quickly emptied as many as possible so he could do that. Smart man - good customer service.
I reuse some of the plastic bags, but they have a very short life - typically one use will cause a puncture or tear somewhere on the bag. (When I go to the grocery store myself, I always bring reusable bags.) Peapod has over 100,000 members all over the country to date and makes deliveries every day of the week. That's a lot of plastic bags.
While I cringe at the overuse of plastic bags, the facts on the sustainability of reusable cotton or polypropylene shopping bags are less than encouraging. According to Answers.com "An unpublished report from the UK's Environment Agency found that when compared to a traditional plastic bag, a canvas or cotton reusable bag would have to be reused a total of 171 times to offset the higher carbon emissions. The same study found however that the average cotton bag is used only 51 times before being thrown away."
How to fix it? There are solutions to packaging waste evolving daily in the consumer and industrial markets - that is the good news. Having been employed in the packaging industry for many years I understand the value of plastics and worry about the apparent demonization of packaging and plastics. A step in the right direction would be to curb the overuse of plastic bags. I feel an obligation to speak up and effect this change in my own little corner - are you with me?
Photo credit: The Reducers Band featuring Bag Monster (Jeff King, playing the melodica and Matt Spitz holding the recycled t-shirt bag), sponsored by the Greenschools Educational Program. The Bag Monster suit pictured is comprised of hundreds of recycled plastic grocery bags.
Intercept Technology Packaging products fit within a sustainability strategy because they are reusable, recyclable, do not contain or use volatile components (No VOCs, Not a VCI) and leave a smaller carbon footprint than most traditional protective packaging products.