Landpak BBM IBB YouFam
The International
Group of Companies
A Market Leader in Plastic Textiles

Durable Plastic Bags

The Economic And Utilitarian Value Of Durable Plastic Bags

In years gone by one of the most common forms of pollution in South Africa were the ubiquitous durable plastic bags. Wherever one travelled in South Africa one was greeted by plastic bags caught in fences, trees or merely blowing in the wind. Not only were these bags an eyesore but in certain ecologically sensitive parts of South Africa they were extremely dangerous to native fauna. In coastal areas plastic bags were blown out over the sea and travelled great distances before they settled on to the water where they were consumed by turtles and sea birds in the mistaken impression that they were prey items. These plastic bags also were among the largest contributors to waste in landfills and the material that they were manufactured from was by and large non biodegradable, clearly something had to be done. The answer lay in part in the manufacture of durable plastic bags.

The manufacture of durable plastic bags that could be reused by the consumer was however only part of the solution. Some mechanism had to be found to motivate the public to reuse the bags. The answer lay in both legislation and cooperation with the retail industry. Legislation was passed which required the retailers to charge for each plastic bag that the consumer used during their shopping excursions. Market forces would have taken over at this point and led the retail industry to manufacture plastic bags as cheaply as possible, making them less durable and reducing the cost to a point where the utilitarian value of the plastic bags was reduced to the point where consumers would not be motivated to reuse the bags.

Fortunately two factors prevented this scenario. Firstly additional legislation ensured that durable plastic bags would become the norm in the retail industry with certain minimum standards being set in place for the thickness and weight of the plastic bags that could be used. Secondly the retail industry realised that the manufacture of thinner plastic bags would actually be counterproductive. These bags, due to their inherent weakness would split extremely easily and it was feared that consumers would abandon the retailers using the lower quality plastic bags in favour of their competitors. This enlightened self interest, bolstered by legislation has seen the adoption of heavier, durable plastic bags as the retail industry standard.

The model for the manufacture and use of durable plastic bags has changed as years have passed since the original legislation governing their use was passed. The retail industry and the plastic bag manufacturers themselves have realised two things. Firstly that the cost being levied for the purchase of the durable plastic bags used in grocery shopping has had the desired effect with many South African consumers and that most are reusing their plastic bags. Secondly there has been a realisation that the South African consumer is willing to pay for quality and even more durable plastic bags that can be used repeatedly with very little risk of the bags splitting or failing in other ways. Most supermarkets today carry a selection of durable plastic bags that are designed for extended use. Many supermarkets have used the opportunity presented by these bags to advertise their brands and it has been found that this does not adversely affect buying behaviour amongst South Africa consumers.

There have also been other, positive spin offs from the use of durable plastic bags. A thriving recycling industry for the manufacture of these bags has emerged, with a variety of plastic and related materials now recycled for the manufacture of the bags. Prior to the manufacture of these bags much of this material was destined for the landfills of South Africa. South Africa is now also a global leader in protecting the environment through the use of durable plastic bags.

If you would like to know more about how durable plastic bags can affect your daily life and business,contact us.