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Old 05-22-2008, 11:47 AM
 
Location: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania USA
2,308 posts, read 997,532 times
Reputation: 369

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When I see photos or video of landfills, the most obvious contents is plastic trash bags, you know, the 13 gallon white kitchen and the green 30 gallon plus variety. My understanding is that these plastic trash bags take many years to degrade in a landfill or anywhere else they may be thrown. Would it be possible for the paper industry to come up with a paper waterproof trash bag to replace the plastic trash bags? We've all seen the paper leaf bags (those areas with trees) that are used to collect and contain leaves in the fall. These leaf bags are taken to a composting site to be tuned into mulch and compost. Why not use a similar approach with paper garbage bags in landfills? The paper bag could be given a waterproof coating that would resist water degradation while in use, but would quickly degrade in a landfill environment to speed up the breakdown of the contents. And of course, the paper garbage bags could be made out of recycled pre and post-consumer paper waste such as newspapers and cardboard. Any thoughts on this green living idea?
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Old 05-22-2008, 11:59 AM
 
Location: Oxford, England
13,036 posts, read 15,300,856 times
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I am sure it is possible but I think the best solution is to stop our dependence on plastic or paper bags. A lot of places in the UK now offer free canvas bags which are re-usable and permanent and easy to use.

Irish supermarkets'stores etc... started to charge for plastic bags and virtually nobody in Eire now uses plastic bags. Britain is thinking of doing the same and I think it's an excellent idea.

We need to reduce packaging and throw-away bags are part of that culture. A lot of places here for example now use corn starch packaging for food products which looks just like plastic and is completely bio-degradable.

Coming up with new bio-degradable products is great but even better would be for us to start behaving more responsibly and less wastefully.
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Old 05-22-2008, 02:26 PM
 
Location: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania USA
2,308 posts, read 997,532 times
Reputation: 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooseketeer View Post
I am sure it is possible but I think the best solution is to stop our dependence on plastic or paper bags. A lot of places in the UK now offer free canvas bags which are re-usable and permanent and easy to use.

Irish supermarkets'stores etc... started to charge for plastic bags and virtually nobody in Eire now uses plastic bags. Britain is thinking of doing the same and I think it's an excellent idea.

We need to reduce packaging and throw-away bags are part of that culture. A lot of places here for example now use corn starch packaging for food products which looks just like plastic and is completely bio-degradable.

Coming up with new bio-degradable products is great but even better would be for us to start behaving more responsibly and less wastefully.
I agree with your post 100% concerning grocery and shopping bags being converted to re-usable paper or cloth bags. I'm speaking of the garbage bags that go into the landfills, other that the grocery and shopping bags. We'd all love to have a clean planet, but that's not going to happen, especially in 3rd world and underdeveloped countries. Considering the millions of pounds of plastic garbage bags that go into our landfills and dumps, converting to biodegradable paper garbage bags would be a small step in the right direction!
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Old 05-22-2008, 02:34 PM
 
Location: Maine
501 posts, read 1,119,263 times
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Good thoughts.

Could enough garbage bags be made using post consumer waste to satisfy demand?

If not - that would mean more trees being cut down to make bags. Wouldn't that freak out some people?

I used to use other bags (cat litter, dog food) to put trash in, and leave that on the curve for the truck to take away. The town changed policy, and only trash in a can and bagged in plastic would be picked up. They left the dog food bag behind the last time I didn't use plastic. What a waste.
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Old 05-22-2008, 04:00 PM
 
Location: Where the real happy cows reside!
4,281 posts, read 6,777,484 times
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I use the paper bags you get at the grocery store as trash bags. I place one in the small trash container and it works just fine. All my coffee grounds and veggie matter go into the compost so there's very little moist garbage. I wish plastic grocery bags would be done away with.
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Old 05-23-2008, 06:03 AM
 
Location: Sheffield, England
2,639 posts, read 4,594,971 times
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This may just be me being cynical but I'd have thought making a trash bag out of paper is just an invitation for it to split and dump its contents on your feet when you go to change it.
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Old 05-23-2008, 08:33 AM
 
Location: Piedmont NC
4,597 posts, read 7,585,748 times
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I invested in some nice, heavy canvas bags, and since I could not always remember to carry them with me to the store(s), I bought two extras to keep in the trunk of the car for those unplanned but necessary trips to the store when I am already out-and-about. I just have to remember to rotate the two back to the trunk of the car.

If I have to have groceries packed at the store in their bags, I choose paper simply because I can stack magazines and newspapers in them, and where I am, the recycle truck will pick up the paper bags. It helps me feel a little less guilty about forgetting to carry my own.
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Old 05-23-2008, 12:18 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
2,336 posts, read 4,087,697 times
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Good question...

I've heard that producing paper trash bags consume more energy to produce than the plastic. I don't know of a 13 gallon trash bag that would be "green." I haven't thought of a way around that yet. I've heard that the plastic garbage bags degrade in about 5 years???? I use just the trash bin for the bathroom w/o the bags, and wipe them down... and I use the plastic 13 gallon bags - I recycle, have a compost bin, so I don't go through them too fast. Hoping that there will be a better option someday if there isn't already...
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Old 05-23-2008, 02:25 PM
 
Location: Where the real happy cows reside!
4,281 posts, read 6,777,484 times
Reputation: 10336
Quote:
Originally Posted by boycew02 View Post
This may just be me being cynical but I'd have thought making a trash bag out of paper is just an invitation for it to split and dump its contents on your feet when you go to change it.
Nope it never has! All the moist stuff goes into the compost. Plus, if it looks a little soggy then I can pick up the whole trash can (since it is really small) and take it to the big one outside.

rdslots ... we like using the paper bags for our paper recycling too.
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Old 05-23-2008, 08:55 PM
 
Location: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania USA
2,308 posts, read 997,532 times
Reputation: 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfax1997 View Post
Good thoughts.

Could enough garbage bags be made using post consumer waste to satisfy demand?

If not - that would mean more trees being cut down to make bags. Wouldn't that freak out some people?

I used to use other bags (cat litter, dog food) to put trash in, and leave that on the curve for the truck to take away. The town changed policy, and only trash in a can and bagged in plastic would be picked up. They left the dog food bag behind the last time I didn't use plastic. What a waste.
Unfortunately, the mindset of the US society is plastic, and that's OK with the natural gas and petroleum interests as most plastics are made from natural gas and petroleum. To paraphrase Bill Gates of Microsoft, a "sea change" will be slow in coming and will involve a generational change rather than a chronological change. Unlike plastics, paper and paperboard can be made from many sources, not just trees. It will require a generational change to occur before these other sources of paper and paper products become commercially viable.
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