Eco-friendly Carrier and Mailing Bags

Since 2018, we have switched to producing our branded carrier bags and mailbags using 100% recycled and 100% recyclable plastic, to reduce our impact on the environment.

Why we've changed from biodegradable bags

Until 2019 we have been producing high quality bio-degradable carrier bags which we have given away with purchases in-store and which we have also used to send orders out to customers that buy online.

Current environmental thinking favours re-usable and recyclable materials, not degradable materials. 

If biodegradable bags enter landfill, as many of them will, they emit carbon dioxide gases. 

Degradable (as opposed to biodegradable) material does not rely on microbes as a catalyst for degradation. It does not produce carbon dioxide gasses. However, like biodegradable material, it will cause damage if it enters the recycling stream.

For these reasons and more, the Environment Agency, DEFRA, the Government and the EU are in favour of reducing biodegradables and have issued directives to that effect.

So, in 2018 the Directors decided that they wanted to take a more responsible approach to lessening Stevensons impact on the environment.

"Over the next six months we have also committed to replace all of our carrier bags and mailbags - which are currently ‘bag-for-life’ quality – with alternatives made of 100% recycled plastic, which itself is 100% recyclable." - John Stevenson, Joint Managing Director, Stevensons

The Benefits of Recycling Plastic Bags

Many people feel overwhelmed by the term ‘Recycling’. It is nothing but the process of converting waste or old products into new products. Recycling is one of the most important steps towards the reduction of pollution, and it is fun too, especially when done in groups.

Recycling plastic bags reduces the amount of energy usage, raw materials, pollution, as well as the waste we produce. 

Quality plastic to enable re-use over and over again

We produce heavier weight quality plastic bags with the intention that customers will be able to use them over and over and over again. 

We don't use very thin 'single-use' bags for which we would need to charge customers.

Why we don't use paper 

Unlike plastic, paper bags are hardly ever re-used. Even worse, they take up 35 times more volume than plastic when they turn up in landfill and, again, unlike plastic, have the seriously dangerous potential to degrade to CO2 and methane - our biggest global environmental problem. Plastic doesn't degrade to emit toxic gases.

Why we do charge for bags in Scotland

It is a legal requirement in Scotland to charge customers for each and every bag, of any type, that is given away. 

We donate all our bag charges in Scotland to charity

Unlike many companies in Scotland we are committed to use the money we are made to charge our customers to good use on local environmentally beneficial projects. This year we are working with the Marine Conservation Society Beachwatch Events in Scotland, where we have 6 branches.

Why we don't charge for carrier bags in England

English retailers only need to charge customers if the bags that are provided are of thinner material and therefore deemed to be only suitable for a single use.

We produce only very strong 'heavy duty' plastic bags, not the thinner 'single-use' bags. We know from experience our bags can be used over and over and over again and we hope that customers will do their bit for the environment by doing just that.

7 things you need to know about
plastic carrier bags

Plastic carrier bags are not a litter problem. Most litter on our streets is snack food packaging, bottles and cans, cigarette ends and similar.

Plastic bags of all kinds make up far less than 1% of litter on our streets. Banning or taxing plastic carrier bags will make no difference to the volume of litter on our streets.

Even if plastic carrier bags end up in landfill they take up an insignificant amount of space – around 0.3%. The materials that take up most space in our landfills are paper and wood-based products, putrescible waste and construction debris.

These are the materials most likely to contribute to greenhouse emissions and groundwater pollution. 

Forget the popular environmental “spin”. Compared with alternatives, lightweight high-strength plastics represent by far the best overall use of valuable earth resources for thousands of everyday applications.

Only about 2% of all the oil consumed in Europe is used for all plastic packaging – and plastic carriers are a very small part of this percentage.

The vast majority of oil – nearly 85% – is burned as fuel in cars and lorries or for power for heating and industry. 

Independent studies show that the energy used to make and distribute plastic carrier bags is far less than for the equivalent size of paper bag.

Plastic films are the most energy-efficient material we can produce. After use, the latent energy in plastic can be recovered by re-use, recycling or via waste to energy systems as widely practised throughout the EU and advocated by recent DEFRA/Birmingham University studies.

Across Europe, it is estimated that 30 million tonnes of oil each year is saved by burning waste plastic in clean, energy from waste plants. One incinerated carrier bag will keep a 60 watt light bulb burning for an hour.

Today’s plastic bags use 70% less plastic than 20 years ago, yet still remain as strong and durable. 

A plastic bag weighs about 7g, yet can carry up to 20kgs - more than 2500 times its own weight! 

Plastic is by far the lightest of all carrier bag materials - so it takes much less fuel to transport and creates less damaging and carcinogenic exhaust emissions.

A paper bag weighs roughly six times more than plastic, is about four times more expensive and takes up to ten times more storage space.

Plastic has genuine environmental advantages across its full life cycle.

No other so-called “disposable” item is re-used as much as the plastic carrier bag.

DEFRA research shows that 80% of people reuse single trip plastic carrier bags in the household.

Replacing these bags takes more resources and energy – a plastic bag tax introduced in Ireland resulted in a massive increase of 300-500% in the sale of plastic refuse bags and bin liners!