In the bag?

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A little while ago I read that the French firm J&M Plast, part of the European packaging group Sphere, was turning to potato starch to make a new biodegradable plastic material for bin bags (unsurprisingly called ‘Bioplast’). L’Usine Nouvelle reports on it here – the link is in French but you’ll find an English version on Matthieu Fossoux’s blog. Biodegradable polymers are now widely investigated – starch-based polymers, polylactic acids (PLA) and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), naturally produced by bacteria, being among the most promising.

Meanwhile, retailers are increasingly switching to a “pay per bag” policy. This has proved to be very effective in the past, with a reduction by 90% in plastic bag consumption in the Republic of Ireland, where customers have been charged per bag since 2002. The Swedish furniture manufacturer Ikea has also adopted a similar policy in the UK, and is reporting a massive 95% drop since last June. Ikea is now extending this scheme to the US and all the profits (with a limit of $1,750,000 within 12 months) are to be donated to the non-profit organization American Forests to plant trees and offset carbon dioxide emissions.

While too many shops still routinely give out plastic bags, these reports are certainly encouraging – and the great news is: we can all contribute.


Anne Pichon (Intern, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery)

Anne Pichon

Senior Editor, Nature Chemistry, Springer Nature

Anne received a broad training in chemistry at the National Graduate School of Chemistry in Montpellier, France. She then focused on inorganic and supramolecular chemistry and obtained her MPhil and PhD degrees from the Queen's University Belfast, UK, investigating porous coordination polymers for host–guest applications. After an internship with Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, Anne moved to John Wiley and Sons in 2007 as an assistant editor of the Society of Chemical Industry journals. She joined Nature Chemistry in October 2008, and was initially based in Tokyo where she also worked on other publishing projects with Nature Asia-Pacific. In April 2013, Anne relocated to the London office and now works full time on the journal.