Organic body launches compostable bags

Date Published: 27/02/2008

As the Daily Mail launches a major campaign to bring the issue of plastic carrier bags to the fore, a leading organic body has launched its own compostable alternative.

Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G), which inspects and licenses thousands of organic farms and food manufacturers across the UK, has become the first organic certifier in the UK to offer a bag made from cornstarch which breaks down completely in compost.

Chief Executive of OF&G, Richard Jacobs, explained: “Putting products in plastic bags that will linger in the environment for hundreds of years does not sit at all well with the principles of organic food and farming.

“We needed to make available an alternative that will break down if left in the environment and which can also encourage the spread of composting; a great way to reduce the waste that goes into our bins every week and put it back into the ground as a positive product.”

OF&G has taken delivery of an initial order of 10,000 bags which will be offered to its licensees but also to any retailer who wishes to play their part in reducing the impact of traditional plastic bags.

The bags, produced by Ecosac, of Tern Hill, Shropshire, are made from non-GM cornstarch. They can be used a number of times before they begin to break down in natural conditions, or degrade fully in compost within 35-45 days. Once broken down the bags return to the simple elements of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen.

Mr Jacobs added: “We recognise that no solution is perfect and these bags can still be an eyesore if released into the landscape, but it will be for a very limited time before they break down. Even re-using sturdy plastic bags, the bag-for-life kind, often requires petrochemicals for their production and they will still have to be disposed of when they are no longer usable. We have been offering biodegradable bags but they still need the right conditions to break down. The cornstarch version is a better alternative in our eyes, although we will always be looking for any improvements we can find.”

The new bags are in addition to heavy-duty jute bags OF&G has been offering for a number of months.

The cornstarch bags are certified as compostable to BS EN13432:2000.

In 2007 OF&G was awarded a contract by the Composting Association to carry out inspection and licensing of composting to the PAS100 and Quality Compost Protocol. Compost produced under this scheme can be classed as a product rather than a waste.