Pharmacy bags must be versatile and hygienic in order to preserve the products; strong enough to allow transportation and storage of products; waterproof and light… that’s a lot of parameters to take into account to meet different needs and uses!
The ecological issue adds another degree of complexity to the time of choice. Between reusable, biodegradable, recyclable or recycled, compostable bags… How to find your way around? And what is the ecological impact of the different solutions? This is where the trouble begins!
Don’t panic: we’ll tell you about the different options available to you to preserve your pharmacy bags. A brief overview of pharmacy bags available on the market and their ecological impact…
The single-use plastic bag: strong enough to be reusable
Since the law of 2016, only “single-use” plastic bags with a thickness greater than 50 microns (0.05 mm) and so-called “biodegradable” bags are authorized at the checkout.
The versatility of the plastic bag makes it still an essential material (impermeability, lightness, resistance). For the moment still little recycled, the Plastics Federation estimates that at the European level, 55% of plastic packaging will be sorted, then recycled by 2025.
Provided you do not throw it away; a plastic bag is still very practical to protect your medication. It is then used in the daily life of your patients. Reusing it means minimizing its impact on the environment.
The compostable bag: towards zero plastic, zero waste?
To overcome the difficulties associated with conventional plastics, opt for a compostable or “biosourced” bag that has the “OK Compost Home” certification (in domestic composting), at the price of a standard plastic bag. This is the manufacturer’s guarantee of quality and commitment to preserving the environment.
To be compostable, your packaging must be made of organic material called “biobased”, obtained from raw materials from biomass (potatoes, corn, etc.) degradable under the action of micro-organisms (bacteria, fungi) no toxic.
But should it be specified? A compostable bag only makes sense if it can be composted, not thrown away with regular waste. For this, local authorities must be able to collect bio-waste separately…
What about oxo-biodegradable bags?
So-called “biodegradable” plastics are supposed to reduce the polluting impact… Stay vigilant because oxo-biodegradable bags are neither compostable nor recyclable! Also classified under the name “biodegradable”, they are actually made of plastics, therefore derived from petroleum found in the state of microparticles in the food chain. Prohibited for sale, except in low doses, associated with plant materials.
Choose recyclable paper packaging
Paper bags or paper tote bags speak for themselves: “recycle me” (it’s written on them). Paper is often made from materials resulting from the recycling of waste paper, therefore in second life. It’s a gain for nature, provided that we do not throw them in the trash, but in the bin intended for packaging!
Kraft paper has many advantages
Although not waterproof, Kraft paper, made from natural and biodegradable fibers, is considered a sustainable alternative to plastic. Some major brands have converted to it 100% to support their customers towards more responsible consumption.
- Krafts bags are made from 100% nature-friendly materials
- Made from wood pulp, they are resistant, recyclable and decompose quickly
- Very trendy, customers appreciate their raw and authentic style
- They exist in several designs, colors and sizes to meet all needs.
A positive ecological balance for recycled paper
The rate of reuse of recycled paper is low while its ecological balance is positive:
- 1 ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 4000Kw of energy and 7000L of water
- 17 trees saved absorb a total of 250 kg of carbon dioxide from the air per year
- Recycling paper saves 64% energy and 58% water.
The polyester bag: ideal for a handbag!
Is it an eco-responsible gesture to buy a polyester shopping bag? And what’s the point of paying more for a polyester bag? Certainly, the polyester fabric, made from polyester fibers (a kind of plastic) but if it is mixed with a natural fabric it is already better…
What is his interest? It is a reusable bag at will, durable and foldable. Convenient for your customers, it fits in a handbag, which allows you to keep it close at hand.
The natural fiber shopping bag: the ideal ecological alternative
But if you are motivated by the desire to offer a truly ecological bag alternative to your customers, you should preferably turn to natural fibers, which are just as clean as Kraft paper but more durable.
The most used being cotton, linen, and hemp, bags and shopping bags in natural cotton are perfectly provided that the dyes used are natural so as not to pollute the waters.
Aesthetic and customizable organic cotton bags
At a time when the tote bag invites itself in all the shops, why not use it as a pharmacy bag? Organic cotton (solid, pretty, washable) pleases from every angle and can be reused. There are also recycled cotton bags, made from cotton scraps… It’s a great way to reduce waste, but for some, it’s still greenwashing!
It all depends on whether the cotton is organic (10% of world production): whether it results from agriculture without pesticides or insecticides and whether the use of water is reduced… It also depends on the method of manufacture and the origin of the cotton because if it comes from India, we burn fuel to import it!