Bags for life are a type of shopping bag which can be re-used over and over again. It is a good eco-friendly alternative to single-use paper or plastic bags. It is often a jute tote bag made from fabric such as canvas, natural fibres such as Jute, woven synthetic fibres, or a thick plastic that is more durable than disposable thinner plastic bags, allowing multiple use.

Reusable carrier bags are a kind of carrier bag which are available for sale in supermarkets and retail shops. Ten years ago, approximately 20% of re-usable bags were found to have levels of lead that were higher than the 100 ppm standard considered safe for product packaging (though did not present a risk of contaminating food) resulting in some chains changing suppliers.

bags for life range

Re-usable bags require more energy to produce than common plastic shopping bags. One re-usable bag requires the same amount of energy as an estimated 28 traditional plastic shopping bags or eight paper bags. If used once per week, four or five reusable bags will replace 520 plastic bags a year. A study commissioned by the United Kingdom Environment Agency in 2005 found that the average cotton shopper bags is used only 51 times before being thrown away. In some cases bags for life need to be used over 100 times before they considered to be better for the environment than single-use plastic bags.

Bags for life and reusable shopping bags are offered in most British supermarkets. These are sold for a nominal sum, usually 10 pence, and are replaced for free. The bags are more durable than standard bags, meaning that they can be re-used many times. The main purpose of this is to ensure that packaging waste legislation was met and to encourage the bags to be recycled (which usually earns the retailer a small amount of money per bag), and unlike with 5p carrier bags there is a (small) financial incentive to bring the bags back for recycling, lessening the environmental impact.

In contrast to most run of the mill carrier bags, bags for life tend to be colourful and sometimes show some aspect of the supermarket’s advertising. Some supermarkets maintain the same design for long periods, whereas some, like Waitrose, rotate the designs to tie in with either the season or its most recent advertising.

Waitrose were the first major supermarket to reusable bags

Waitrose was the first British Supermarket to launch a Bag For Life in 1998. It was the first closed-loop recycling initiative, returned and broken bags are made into black benches placed outside Waitrose stores. The initial marketing message is still in use today. As of 2016, the UK Government introduced a tax on all carrier bags, which means that every consumer pays 5p for any carrier bag from any store.

Re-usable plastic bags have a very simple end of life disposal route. Most re-usable plastic carrier bags are made from LDPE 4 (Low Density Polythene) which is the easiest form of plastic to recycle currently in the UK. These types of plastic carrier bags (along with ‘single use’ plastic carrier bags) can be recycled with many local council kerbside collections in the UK and most of the large supermarkets have re-cycling stations close to their entrances.

The increasing use of jute tote bags (a mix of cotton and jute) has provided a natural alternative to single-use plastic bags and reusable plastic bags. These are found in many of the major supermarkets. These bags have a 3-5-year lifespan and are often seen as the eco-friendly option, if used correctly they will replace over 600 single use carrier bags.

Elliott Packaging – Specialists in Bags For Life

Looking to go eco-friendly or thinking of reducing your eco footprint? Elliot Packaging offer a full bags for life range consisting of 4 different styles. All eligible for printing, Elliott Packaging manufacture jute tote bags, cotton shopper bags, non woven polypropylene bags and polypropylene woven bags.

To get started, simply speak to one of our sales advisers using the Live Chat facility or you can simply request a call back.