ANZ General Manager Auckland and Northland, Commercial and Agri, Penny Ford says “it is exciting to see people embracing a more sustainable lifestyle. It is also exciting to see clients like Ecobags who are delivering sustainable and clever alternatives to products like plastic bags”.
The company sources its bags from Asia and India and has worked with its suppliers to ensure they hold Sedex Certification.
Sedex is a not-for-profit organisation which works with businesses committed to continuous improvement of the ethical performance of their supply chains.
A number of NZ retailers have recently announced plans to ditch single use plastic bags, opening up potential new markets for the company.
That means new opportunities but also new challenges.
“We are definitely seeing the demand for stock - particularly as supermarkets and big corporates are changing. The challenge is to understand and forecast the stock we will need so we can support the growth,” says Simmonds.
Hard to budge
Despite the growing awareness of sustainable options, simple economics means plastic is not going anywhere anytime soon.
“Moving from a plastic bag to a compostable bag is almost three times the cost so it can be a hurdle for big corporates and organisations using millions of bags to absorb the extra cost,” says Simmonds.
She says compostable and biodegradable bags are not a complete solution to the problem of plastic bags but they are a step in the right direction.
A key factor is encouraging people to change their behaviour.
“One option is to have a plastic bag tax, charging people 10 or 15 cents if they do not bring their own bags.
“Many countries around the world have been doing it quite successfully for a number of years and have proven it works. Research shows a bag tax reduces the number of bags people take,” says Simmonds.
But she says it’s also about educating people including informing people why it’s better to put compostable products in a composting environment, rather than sending it to landfill.
“Compostable products need to be exposed to moisture, oxygen and bacteria whereas landfills are typically kept dry, to minimise methane release,” says Simmonds.
“Compostable products won’t break down as designed in landfill; they need to in a home or commercial compost heap.”
Simmonds believes more composting facilities would help this issue.
“The more New Zealanders are educated and supported to move away from using traditional single use plastics and embark on choosing reusable and compostable products that are composted correctly, the better it will be for everyone’s future.”
Tony Field is a bluenotes contributor.