Alternatives to Plastics

Posted in: General Information 22nd March 2019

Alternatives to Plastics


Society’s view on plastics has changed rapidly over the last few years, with more and more businesses switching to eco-friendly plastic alternatives.  While plastic has its benefits for many things, the environment unfortunately is suffering due to the over use and inability to recycle many forms of it.

We’ve been doing extensive research into plastic alternatives for our bags, from paper and recycled materials to corn starch and other natural ingredients.

What’s becoming clear however, is that even with the knowledge gained about the effects of plastics, they are still the easiest and cheapest way to produce bags and other packaging products on such large scales. 

Even before the negative effects of plastic was being so widely discussed, Valley Northern have been offering various ranges of eco-friendly and recycled products.  With an ISO 14001 accreditation, it’s something that’s very important to us. 

Our search for plastic bag alternatives is ongoing and we are intent on offering our customers cost effective, environmentally friendly products.

Already in our product range we have a variety of products that are 100% recyclable; biodegradable and compostable along with having a low carbon footprint, with some products also being made from recyclable parts.

Propac Paper Carrier Range

ProPac Prescription Bags

ProPac Counter Bags

ProBox and Purepac Tablet Cartons

UnoPac Tablet Bottles

Status Compatible Toner Cartridges & Drums

Having researched alternatives to plastic for our popular bag ranges we’ve come up against a few potential reasons why customers may be reluctant to change.

Paper Bags

While paper bags are the most obvious first choice when looking for alternatives to plastic bags, the cost of these is noticeably higher.  There are the obvious benefits of crisp clean printing, the comfort of knowing they can be made using recycled paper or come from carefully managed forests, and that they are easily recycled across the UK.  However, we can’t forget that the dense nature of paper compared to plastic means the packaging is increased on a major scale. Naturally this means that the transporting of the products increases amount of lorries on the roads, which in turn increases the CO2 emissions into the environment.



PLA Plastics

Corn Starch bags are made from renewable resources such as corn, an interesting alternative option, as in a controlled environment they will naturally break down meaning they can be classed as biodegradable and compostable.

The problem arises as this process has to be done in a commercial facility and won’t be collected by your local authority with the rest of your garden waste.

Searching for UK sites that have these specific composting facilities has proved harder than first thought, meaning while they have the potential to be environmentally friendly the process isn’t going to be simple.  Figures for the US show that there are only 113 of these sites across the whole 52 states.

Another thing to consider is the shelf life of PLA products which is drastically reduced due to the natural materials they’re made from, and can be as little as just 6 months from manufacture.

The final thing to consider is the moral issue of them being made from corn.  There are around 795 million people in the world without access to enough food to live an active healthy life, so the justification of growing corn solely for packaging and not human need is a difficult argument to put forward.


So in short, we’re actively researching the market for both environmentally friendly and cost effective alternatives to the common plastic carrier bag, and we will continue to do so until a viable alternative is found.

We are committed to our customers that the products we provide are not only the best value and quality for you, but are also not having a negative impact on the environment.

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