We have recently been approached by a company who manufactures a new type of garbage bags called "BioFlex". These bags are made out of Polyethylene derived from sugarcane. They offered us the opportunity to start carrying these "green" bags. Their claim is that by purchasing these bags you would actually be helping to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This would be due to the fact that the sugar cane was, at one time, alive and absorbing carbon dioxide from the environment during photosynthesis.
"Each case of 35 x 50 oil based garbage bags adds 41 lbs. of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Each case of 35 x 50 BioFlex sugarcane garbage bags removes 48 lbs. of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, for a net benefit of 89 lbs. of carbon dioxide to the environment."
It is lovely that companies are trying to be more environmentally friendly but consumers, and members of the supply chain (like us), need to think critically about how environmentally friendly a product really is. Sugarcane would definitely absorb carbon dioxide while it was still a living plant. However, the claim of one case removing 48 lbs. of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere may not take into account the manufacturing processes involved in changing the sugarcane from a plant into a garbage bag. There is also the box that the garbage bags come in to think about and what happens to them once they reach the landfill.
As manufactures start offering more environmentally friendly options, consumers should always make sure they have all of the information. These bags are most likely better for the environment than standard bags. However, they may not completely live up to their claims. Greenwashing is a term used to describe the way companies market their products to appear more sustainable than they truly are. For more information on greenwashing and how to avoid it, click here.