At The Local Choice we are conscious of the influence that a business like ours can have on the world around us. We realise that making considered choices can make a significant environmental impact. To this end we have decided to embark on a Green Journey. As of October 2019 all shopping bags will now be ecopolybag. We see ourselves as a leader in this direction and are happy that you are part of this journey.

What is ecopolybag?

Find below a list of FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS What is oxo-biodegradable plastic? It is ordinary plastic to which a catalyst has been added during the manufacturing process. The big difference between oxo-biodegradable and ordinary plastic is that if oxo-biodegradable plastic escapes collection and ends up in the open environment as litter, it will degrade and biodegrade unlike ordinary plastic. At that stage it is no longer a plastic and has become a material which can be bio-assimilated in the open environment, in the same way as a leaf.

Once in the environment, how long does the bag take to decompose?

Degradation rate is totally reliant on the environmental conditions the product finds itself in. High temperatures and exposure to the sun’s UV will accelerate the degradation process. Most importantly, it needs to be exposed to an oxygen rich environment. Without oxygen the degradation is dormant. Product in cold and dark area will then naturally take longer to degrade. The suggested period is as “18 months” before the degradation process starts, but this can go either way depending on the environmental conditions as explained.

What happens if it lands in the ocean?

We find oxygen in both fresh and salt water, thus degradation will occur. We have test reports that confirm that the plastic will biodegrade in these environments.

What happens if it ends up in landfill?

One must first understand that our product is not intended to clear landfill plastic, it is designed to reduce the amount of litter and the time it takes for that litter to degrade if it is not collected for recycling. If the plastic lands up deep inside landfill and has no access to oxygen, degradation will be dormant. Having said that, the plastic is now not litter, it is in a confined environment. Should the plastic be exposed once again to oxygen, the degradation process will continue.

Can we recycle it?

Yes, it can be recycled. The additive is 80% polymer (plastic). The remainder 20% or so is a mixture of oxidants and anti-oxidants, which accelerate the oxidation of the polymer which in a normal product would take many years or even decades to do so. There is no conclusive evidence that OBP cannot be recycled, but we do have two independent test reports that supports the fact that OBP can be recycled without showing negative effects of the second life product.

History and success of OXO technology?

Oxo plastics have been legislated in a few countries (and used in 94 other countries), which means that before the country was going to ban plastic bags all together, they found that oxo technology could not only save their commercial industry and limit job losses, they can be assured that the plastic they produced has the opportunity to< biodegrade if not collected and recycled.

Isn’t it better to use paper bags?

No, the carbon footprint of paper bags are much higher. The process of making paper bags causes 70% more atmospheric pollution than plastic bags. Paper bags use 300% more energy to produce, and the process uses huge amounts of water and creates very unpleasant organic waste. When they degrade they emit methane and carbon dioxide.

A stack of 1000 new plastic carrier bags would be around 2 inches high, but a stack of 1000 new paper grocery bags could be around 2 feet high. It would take at least seven times the number of trucks to deliver the same number of bags, creating seven times more transport pollution and road congestion. Also, because paper bags are not as strong as plastic, people may use two or three bags inside each other. Paper bags cannot normally be re-used, and will disintegrate if wet.

Isn’t it better to use durable re-usable bags?

No. Long-term re-usable shopping bags are not the answer. They are much thicker and more expensive, and a large number of them would be required for the weekly shopping of an average family. They are not hygienic unless cleaned after each use. Whilst sometimes called “Bags for Life” they have a limited life, depending on the treatment they receive, and become a very durable problem when discarded. Shoppers do not always go to the shop from home, where the re-usable bags would normally be kept, and consumers are unlikely to have a re-usable bag with them when buying on impulse – items such as clothing, groceries, CDs, magazines, stationery etc.

What international testing standards exist?

Oxo-biodegradable plastic can be tested according to American Standard ASTM D6954-04 for Plastics that Degrade in the Environment by a Combination of Oxidation and Biodegradation. Also, according to British Standard 8472, or UAE Standard 5009 of 2009, or the French Accord T51-808. The French Standards organisation, AFNOR, has also published XP T 54-980, for oxo-biodegradable plastics in agriculture. European standard EN 13432 applies only to plastic packaging, and was written before oxo-biodegradable plastics became popular. It is not appropriate for testing oxo-biodegradable plastics because it is based on measuring the rapid emission of carbon dioxide during biodegradation. Hydro-biodegradable plastic is compliant with EN 13432, precisely because it emits CO2 (a greenhouse gas) at a rapid rate.