A Life Cycle Assessment of Oxo-biodegradable, Compostable, and Conventional Bags

Conventional plastic carrier bags and bread bags are widely used in the UK, with carrier bags often given away free of charge by supermarkets. Many of these bags contain a pro-degradant an additive such as Symphony’s d2w causes the bag to degrade abiotically and biodegrade after its useful life without affecting the bag’s functionality.

Bio-based bags are relatively new products made from agricultural crops or a blend of crop-based and oil-based materials. This study considers the cradle-to-grave life cycle of each of the three alternatives. The functional unit is a 19.1-liter bag for carrier bags and an 800-gram capacity bag for bread bags. The same weight, material content, production energy, and distribution distances were assumed for conventional and oxo-biodegradable bags, with a 30% higher weight for bio-based bags.

An impact assessment was conducted to assess the bags over 11 environmental impact categories including global warming potential (carbon footprint), abiotic resource depletion (use of non-renewable resources such as oil and metals), and litter. 

This assessment was written by Chris Edwards and Gary Parker for Intertek Expert Services in May 2012.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *