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Reusable bags: a market with a future

A question of ecology
Disposable bags, the symbol of irresponsible consumerism, are now a "dying breed". All over the world, new regulatory policies are being applied to put an end to their overuse. Production of these single-use bags is starting to decline. The areas that have taken a lead have already found an alternative solution that is effective and positive for the environment: reusable bags.

The world in search of alternatives
Some countries and municipalities have already banned the distribution and/or production of disposable bags. And sometimes their use is penalised, even for biodegradable bags!
Among these "precursors" are Tanzania, Bangladesh, Paris, Taiwan, four Indian states, South Africa, San Francisco, etc. Soon, all French territory will apply similar rules (from 2010). Other lawmakers have chosen to levy taxes that discourage overuse of disposable bags. Ireland, for example, has done so very successfully, since the "plastax" introduced in 2002 cut the distribution of single-use bags by 90% in just one year! Many countries have already been inspired by this method and others will be adopting it in turn, in particular China, in 2009.

I'LL BE BAG controls production

Its own factory in China
A skilled team and 300 manual workers are in charge of the production process, ensuring that it is timely and that the bags produced are of high quality. I'LL BE BAG, based in Brussels, guarantees every step of the production and delivery process.

Optimal ethical standards
The Chinese plant in XU YI is undergoing the SA8000 certification process (international social and environmental standards). It is regularly audited at the request of different customers and its results are always positive.
I'LL BE BAG strongly encourages its customers (or the certification organisation of their choice) to check our compliance with the standards we have set for ourselves.

Strict quality control

The quality of each new production is duly checked and any products presenting the slightest defects are immediately withdrawn. An additional independent inspection may be ordered by the customer from third-party experts.

The I'LL BE BAG range

Customisable bags
I'LL BE BAG's initial product range consisted of reusable jute canvas, cotton and PVC bags. It now offers exclusively woven and non-woven polypropylene (PP) bags for reasons of resistance and ecological impact. Today, after numerous studies, I'LL BE BAG is proud to announce the availability of new recycled PET bags (see below).
The whole range of I'LL BE BAG products can be personalised, even with highly technical visuals, based on Pantone colours.
Clients have a choice of shapes, sizes, handles and closures and the full range of parameters allows for thousands of different models.
Reusable bags project a positive image
I'LL BE BAG products spotlight the brand names they display, with their richly-coloured illustrations and their connotation of ecological values. For example: Marks & Spencer (which is not a I'LL BE BAG customer) recently conducted a satisfaction survey among its customers: 85% replied that reusable bags are a plus for the Marks & Spencer image.

An innovation : recycled PET bags

The most ecological I'LL BE BAG product
Regular use of a single I'LL BE BAG product saves more than 300 disposable bags, or a year's consumption of an average inhabitant of the industrialised world.

I'LL BE BAG now also offers even more ecological bags, made up of 80% recycled PET. A year's research went into their development. And progress is continuing: 100% PET bags are now available and are just as strong!
The use of recycled PET bags offers a double benefit for the environment. At the start of the chain they contribute to waste recovery, and at the end of the chain they help reduce the volume of waste.
What is more, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the production of products manufactured from recycled PET require two thirds less energy and 90% less water. 
Another argument in favour of these bags is that consumers cannot tell the difference between new PET and recycled PET (study conducted by Waste & Resources Action Programme, United Kingdom).
The PET range is currently available for orders of at least 50,000 and personalised woven and non-woven PP bags are available from 5,000. For now, the PET bags target the distribution majors, but with growing demand and thanks to new equipment, they will soon be available in more accessible quantities.

I'LL BE BAG : ideally positioned

By gaining a strong foothold on the reusable bag market at an early date, I'LL BE BAG has secured a bright future for itself. It is known among the big distributors in Europe and North America and its trade name is clear, attractive and easily crosses borders.
Its range of products evolves constantly, both qualitatively and aesthetically, and always with an eye to sustainable development, as seen in its new 100% PET recycled bags.
But the real strength of this young division resides in its reliability. On the one hand, the brand has its registered office in Europe (in Brussels) and on the other, the experience acquired with the Chinese market, its direct partnerships with factories and above all the ownership of its own production subsidiary are guarantees for I'LL BE BAG customers.

I'LL BE BAG creates the first recycled PET reusable bag

  A specialist in polypropylene reusable bags, I'LL BE BAG has broken new ground, creating the first reusable bag from recycled waste.

Made up of 100% recycled PET¹, this bag gives a second life to plastic bottles. The bottles are collected, treated and processed into canvas that can be printed with four colours. A range of 80% PET customisable bags is also available. Ultra-strong, the PET bag is designed to carry loads of 25 kg in movement. These reusable bags can be personalised and are an ideal vehicle of communication for a trademark, company or organisation. They also represent a real commitment to sustainable development: 100 uses means that 300 disposable plastic bags can be saved, representing a significant savings of energy and raw materials.

Reusable bags – THE answer to today's environmental concerns

Reusable bags, as the name indicates, are poles apart from disposable bags. They represent the best alternative to disposable bags provided they are actually reused. Their production cost is low given the number of uses they offer and fewer resources are used in their composition and production.
It is paradoxical that the new bags for which consumers pay 10 cents in supermarkets require at least five uses each before presenting a better life-cycle analysis than their disposable predecessors. But today they are still rarely used more than twice! To do justice to the philosophy of reusable bags, they have to be reused. Some models are strong enough to be used for years. Other can be folded and slip easily into a handbag. But all require a bit of discipline on the part of users. So it is essential to increase public awareness to encourage consumers to adopt responsible behaviour.

The problem of disposable bags

3 billion... This almost unimaginable figure represents the total number of disposable plastic bags used annually in Belgium until very recently. Designed for a single use, some are reused in trash bins, but most end up directly in the incinerator or landfill. Their light weight, flexibility, strength and free distribution explain their planetary success… and their overuse.

¹ Polyethylene Terephtalate.

What happens to ordinary plastic bags after use ?

Once the bag has been used, it ends up in the incinerator or the landfill². The space taken up by plastic bags, although smaller in comparison to other residual waste matter, reduces the lifecycle of landfills. With incineration, plastic bags represent a good calorific value and produce few greenhouse gases, however their combustion can release air pollutants such as carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulphur oxide (SOx) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (HAP)17. Sophisticated filtering systems help reduce these pollutants.

Disposable bags: 400 years to decompose

Plastic materials manufactured from oil or natural gas have extraordinary longevity. Chemically stable and inert, the type of plastic used to manufacture conventional plastic bags – polyethylene – is non-polluting in terms of contamination of the environment. In time its molecules will biodegrade...  
But only after several centuries! The resistance and availability of these bags are the source of both their success and numerous environmental problems.
Visual pollution : abandoned irresponsibly, plastic bags are carried by the wind and end up everywhere in nature, spoiling landscapes. Flapping from trees and bushes, they have been dubbed the "national flag" in Ireland and the "national flower" in South Africa.
Impact on terrestrial and maritime ecosystems: fish, dolphins, whales, tortoises and birds are particularly harmed by the large numbers of plastic bags that litter the natural environment. Many are smothered to death after confusing the plastic with food.

Collective awareness

The general environmental awareness of recent months has sparked government and public reactions against single-use plastic bags. As a result, leading distributors recently stopped distributing disposable plastic bags, which are now considered politically incorrect.

² Place where waste that cannot be recycled is buried.

What alternative ?

Paper bags?
Paper bags present the advantages of being recyclable in all Belgian sorting centres and deteriorating quickly in the natural environment. But this option is not the ideal sustainable solution: the production of paper bags consumes large amounts of forest resources and their recycling requires large amounts of water. In addition, their volume requires more storage space and increases fuel costs for transport. Lastly, since paper bags are not humidity-resistant, their longevity is uncertain.

Biodegradable bags?

A second type of plastic bag, also composed of polyethylene, is referred to as biodegradable. To be more precise, it is "oxydegradable". Additives accelerate the degradation process by making the bags "fragmentable". The invisible plastic particles released into the soil cannot be assimilated by nature, however. What is more, the impact of the additives on the environment has not yet been evaluated.
This subject remains controversial and deserves close attention. In terms of costs, "biodegradable" bags are more expensive to produce than ordinary plastic bags and use large amounts of water resources. In addition, the distribution network is not yet well developed.
Really biodegradable bags are made up of maize, potato, soy or other starches. They nevertheless require the use of pesticides and GMOs for reasons of productivity. Their advantages are debatable in particular from the ethical point of view. Massive production of these bags would lead to an increase in agricultural prices, making a number of vital foodstuffs inaccessible to the neediest populations.
Reusable PET bags consequently seem to be the best alternative, since they are made from 80% or even 100% recycled waste. Their mode of production and repeated uses maximise energy savings and help protect the environment.


I'll be bag sa/nv | Brixtonlaan 2G | 1930 Zaventem
T +32 2 720 77 45 | F +32 2 720 99 42 |