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Plastic Bags

The Usefulness Of Plastic Bags

Until the South African government passed laws making it obligatory for retail outlets to charge for plastic bags, these products were viewed as both disposable and a renewable household resource. Every chain link fence used to sport a collection of plastic bags and the dangers of plastic bag pollution to wildlife made the humble plastic bag into public enemy number one for environmentalists.

Today, the new laws governing the use of plastic bags have revolutionised not only the retail industry but also made consumers re-evaluate the way that they have treated plastic bags in the past. Nowadays, each and every plastic bag that is purchased finds a new use once it has been used to transport goods to the home for consumption. People save bags for use as rubbish receptacles in the home, reuse them for their weekly and monthly shopping and the bags are even used in the manufacture of value added goods.

Almost every tourist that visits the shores of South Africa will be exposed to plastic bags derived from curios. The plastic bag is now used for the construction of stylish shopping carriers, shoes, decorative arts and even clothing. By placing a premium on the value of these bags, the South African government has transformed the bags from a nuisance into a valued commodity that is not only used again and again, but through several initiatives has allowed those who have been unemployed to create a better life for themselves and their families.

There are now initiatives amongst the allied manufacturers to transform the manufacturing process even further in order to produce plastic bags that are even more environmentally friendly, but still retain their utilitarian use. This has meant looking at new manufacturing methods and materials in order to come up with plastic bags that are as light as possible but still as strong as the original. There are even initiatives that are aimed at producing plastic bags that biodegrade under the action of UV rays.

The push toward these biodegradable plastic bags has been fuelled in part due to the vast numbers of plastic bags (and other plastic products) that were making their way onto South African landfills. The lack of space for additional landfills and the environmentally unfriendly nature of these landfills has meant that the plastic bag industry had to look at new ways of coming up with a product that would not harm both the environment and South African wildlife.

More than Just a Plastic Bag Supplier

Many retailers have taken a diametrically opposed route to ensuring that plastic bags do not represent the menace that they did only a decade ago. Rather than demanding that manufacturers come up with lighter versions of the plastic bags that still exhibited the strength characteristics of the older versions, these retailers have demanded heavier versions from their plastic bag supplier.

The manufacturers of plastic bags have responded by producing a product that is much heavier than those initially produced in South Africa. These heavier plastic bags are extremely strong and hard wearing which means that they can be used again and again. By motivating the users to reuse these bags and by charging a premium for the stringer bags, the retail industry has actually promoted a more ecologically friendly approach.

The primary roles of plastic bags, that is keeping produce sourced from a retailer both dry and protected from environmental harm, while at the same time being extremely light and available to retailers in extremely high numbers, has not changed over the last decade. What has changed is the attitude towards plastic bags by all users and every supplier in South Africa. This change in both the ethos of those behind the production of plastic bags and the use of these products may have been caused by legislation. However, the fact remains that this legislation has caused a paradigm shift in both behaviour and mindset amongst everyone that comes into contact with plastic bags.