Bag it! Biodegradable hits the checkout

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Friday shoppers at Migros in Vaud will be surprised to see new bags at the checkout that look like plastic but are not: biodegradable, re-usable, compostable. Plastic bags will soon have seen their day at Swiss supermarkets, thanks to parliament’s decision to ban them.

Migros, the country’s largest supermarket chain, is taking credit for being the pioneer in an environment-friendly move that gives Vaud consumers several options, including the new bags as well as “cabas“, re-usable bags, that will be available in small sizes, made from paper.

The new biodegradable sacks are a “symbolic” 5 centimes, while the paper cabas are 20 centimes. The new and re-usable bags cost 10 times more to produce than plastic ones, which tend to be viewed by consumers as one-shot bags, and the store wants to keep a symbolic charge to improve consumers’ awareness of what’s involved in going green.

The bags have a 1.5 to 2 year shelf life.

The Vaud project is a pilot, with a wider test of the new bags and consumer sentiment slated for early 2014 in five MMM stores. Migros clients will be able to choose between the traditional and free small plastic bags and the new biodegradable ones, for 5 centimes, but the store is also looking to measure consumer understanding of sustainable development efforts.

European potatoes (non-GMO) from production units that are separated from food chain potatoes are being used to make the new bags.

They are manufactured by BioApply, a Gland-based firm that makes organic, vegetable-based products.  Migros says that their form, resistance and capacity are similar to those for the free plastic bags available at checkout counters: they are designed to hold 3-4 kg.

The store will continue to sell its 30 centime paper bags and CHF2 larger cabas carrier bags, both of which are designed to be re-used.


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