Earth Bags Australia Pty. Ltd. has launched what it claims is Australia's first 100 percent recyclable paper bag, aimed at replacing so-called green polypropylene bags.
Called Earth Bag, the woven paper bags have a natural beeswax coating.
Reg Ferguson, Earth Bags Australia director, said the bags are already in use in the retail and food industries and are a viable option to replace PP bags.
It took Ormeau-based Earth Bags Australia more than three years to research, develop and release the product. Ferguson said that, to his knowledge, Earth Bags are Australia's first biodegradable reusable bag and the first to be supported by scientific research.
He said Earth bags are chemical-free, can be used for up to two years and will turn to compost 45 days after disposal in landfill.
“There are millions of reusable bags currently used in Australia. I don't think people are aware the majority contain lead and petroleum products and are as harmful to the environment as plastic bags,” Ferguson said.
He said the bags are as strong and practical as their PP counterparts, but produce about 20 percent fewer carbon emissions during manufacture and disposal.
At A$2.50 (US$2.64) a unit, Earth bags are more expensive than PP bags but Ferguson said the extra cost is offset by the future cost of trying to dispose of PP bags.
Research by scientists at Perth, Australia-based Murdoch University show the paper bags are better for the environment, Ferguson said.
Martin Anda, from the university's School of Environmental Science, said: “Earth Bags contribute to the organic content of the soil once they have biodegraded. This reinforces their environmental benefits vs. green bags.”