Welcome to Discount Degradable Bags!

Discount Degradable Bags.co.uk is part of the Degradable Bag Division of Polybags Limited, UK. We specialise in degradable bags and biodegradable bags to help meet your changing needs and help towards a better environment.

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About Us

Whether you need small or large quantities of degradable bags you are in the right place. At Discount Degradable bags.co.uk we are dedicated to helping you choose the right degradable and biodegradable bags to suit your needs and help towards a better environment!

Polybags were established in 1961 by Mr. Geoffrey Davies who purchased a bag making machine advertised in the local paper and sold door to door. As sales grew, Geoffrey Davies teamed up with college friend Brian Turner who became in charge of production and the business moved firstly to a lock-up garage and then on to larger factory premises in Alperton, West London.

After some consolidation, we now have a new management team headed by Jon Lomax and are looking to continue Polybags' development and success - Business is expanding again, Improvements are being made and after taking on the business of Chapel Polythene in 2005 we are now very tight for space and have committed to extending into next door at the end of this year. This will allow for further growth in products manufactured and stocked for you. Watch this space

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Why we need Degradable bags or film? - Environmental Issue

Although billions of plastic retail bags are used around the world, their lightweight, low volume characteristics mean that some carelessly discarded bags will inevitably be blown into our natural environment. This high visibility profile of bags caught in trees and bushes led to claims, in some countries, that the bags were a major contributor to our global litter problems.

Although plastics only account for 20% by weight of all packaging material, their excellent performance means that they are used in over 50% of the number of items packaged.

Plastics present particular challenges for waste management mainly because of their efficiency in use and the relatively high energy required for collection and recycling compared to the virgin polymer. Despite this plastics films are recycled and in many European countries incineration with energy recovery is widely practiced. Sadly in the UK disposal by landfill is the most common method. Plastic bags are an iconic feature of the modern world and create a lot of visible litter.

Subsequent claims included the idea that plastic carrier bags are a major part of the volume of landfill. It has also been said that plastic bags are bad for the environment because they are not degradable and, in contradiction, that they will eventually degrade to pollute our land and water sources.

Degradable-packaging is increasingly being used as a replacement for petroleum-based plastics. The demand is being driven by legislation and by demand from environmentally conscious consumers.

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What is Degradation?

Degradation is a process whereby very large molecules are broken into smaller molecules or fragments. Normally, oxygen is incorporated into these molecular fragments. Typically, strong, tough plastic films become weak and brittle as a result of oxidative degradation. This outcome is because the molecules of which the films consist become much smaller. Degradation can be caused (initiated) by heat, or exposure to UV light and is enhanced by mechanical stress.

Feature and benefits of our Degradable Bags

  • Cheaper & Proven than natural polymers
  • Recyclable
  • Reduces environmental impact
  • Reduces packaging waste
  • Non-toxic residues
  • FDA complaint applications
  • Controlled product life cycle

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6 Basic Rules to ensure degradability

Good design is essential to ensure degradability is sustainable and considers 6 basic rules as listed below:

  1. The degradability should add value
  2. Degradation will occur at the right place at the right time
  3. Function is not compromised by degradability
  4. Cost is not a barrier
  5. There is no environmental contamination
  6. Consumers are well informed and able to select suitable products

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Degradable Bags for Industry.....

Agriculture Apparel
Bakery Dry Cleaning
Electronics Hotel
Food Hardware
Hosiery Gardening
Composting Housewares
Mailers Manufacturing
Medical Pet Food
Poultry Promotional
Retailing Tradeshows

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Types of Degradable Plastics

There are mainly two types of Degradable plastics are available in the market today.

  1. Photodegradable plastics are those that break down through the action of ultraviolet (UV) light, which degrades the chemical bond or link in the polymer or chemical structure of the plastic. This process can be assisted by the presence of UV-sensitive additives in the polymer. They will not therefore degrade if buried in a landfill, a compost heap, or other dark environment, or if heavily overprinted.

  2. Oxo-biodegradable plastics are the most effective and economic of the new plastics is based on Oxo-degradation and has become known as Oxo-biodegradable, or "totally degradable," A special additive is included in the manufacturing process of conventional plastic, which changes the behaviour of the plastic. Oxo-biodegradation is a two-stage process in which, first the plastic is converted by reaction with oxygen to molecular fragments that are water wettable and second, these smaller oxidized molecules are biodegraded (converted into carbon dioxide, water and biomass).

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What we offer?

At Polybags we offer degradable and biodegradable bags made out using Oxo-degradable additive technology.

Insight of our Degradable bags

Answers to your most commonly asked questions about our Degradable bags!

How Oxo-degradable technology works?

Every combination of elements has a molecular weight. Water (H2O) has a gram molecular weight of 18 and Carbon dioxide (CO2) has a gram molecular weight of 44. An ordinary polyethylene film has an average molecular weight of up to 300,000. The remarkable flexibility, elongation and toughness of polyethylene film arises from the size of the molecules it is made from and their random space distribution.

Large polyethylene molecules having average molecular weight of up to 300,000 can be broken down into smaller molecules, by oxidative degradation.

The factors of heat, UV light (sunlight) and mechanical stress are the most common ways in which oxidative degradation is triggered. One or any combination of the above factors is needed to start the degradation process.

By oxidative degradation, results in the formation of many more molecular ends. By oxidative degradation, oxygen is brought into those small molecules as, to form aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids, alcohols. The micro-organisms are able to attack these molecules containing oxygen, reaching the point at which certain types of microbes begin chopping off 2 carbon atom fragments from these ends. As the average molecular weight decreases, causing more and more ends, ingestion by the micro-organisms increases.

Eventually, as oxidative degradation and biodegradation proceed, more and more hydrogen and some of the carbon (both from the polyethylene) are converted to water and carbon dioxide, respectively.

Biodegradation takes over, and the result is the biodegradation of polythene film or bag.

What makes the bags ultimately Totally Degradable?

Totally Degradable bags are made from "normal" polyethylene - the same as most bags - but also contain a percentage by weight of a proprietary patented Oxo-biodegradable additive known as TDPA (totally degradable plastic additives) manufactured by a company called EPI.

What initiates the breakdown of the plastic bag?

TDPA additives have been formulated so that after the bag has been used and discarded, it undergoes oxidative degradation and breaks down into brittle fragments. This happens as a result of exposure to heat or UV light and mechanical stress (or any combination thereof). The plastic molecules become much smaller, water wettable, and microbes can use them as a food source

How long does it take the bags to degrade?

That depends on the type of landfill or waste disposal the bag ends up in. There is a first stage process whereby the bag becomes brittle and fragments into smaller pieces. The speed at which this occurs will depend on the availability of UV light, oxygen, heat and physical stress experienced - all of which can contribute to a speedier chemical transformation in the landfill environment. However, normally our degradable bags takes 18-24 months to degrade.

Do the bags have a shelf life?

We recommend that the bags be used within 18-24 months from the date of manufacture. Otherwise, the degradation process will start to render the bags unfit for their designed practical function as a bag meeting a specific weight-load function. This shelf life property enables consumers to re-use the bags, if necessary over the 18-24 month period.

Can I put this Degradable bags into my compost?

Degradable bags are ideal for disposal in landfills. The bags are also designed to degrade in home compost or commercial compost. However, the speed of degradation is always depends on the actual location and condition of the compost.

Are degradable bags sustainable?

Think about the following example of Degradable Rubbish bags or Refuse sacks.

  • Using degradable bags would reduce the strain on landfill sites considerably.
  • When they degrade, the bags produce only small amounts of harmless carbon dioxide and water.
  • Waste in degradable rubbish bags decomposes quicker than in standard polythene sacks.
  • The bags are very light, so the environmental impact of transporting them is small.


  • The bags are still made from polythene, which is made from oil (a finite resource).
  • In the longer term, we must question the sheer quantity of waste that we generate and try to ensure that all 'waste' from households and workplaces is used to provide the feedstock for another product. From this perspective, collecting garden and other biodegradable waste in totally degradable sacks for composting is a step forward.

Can Degradable bags or film be used with food contact products?

Yes. Our bags made out using EPI's TDPA additives have received FDA certification for food contact applications in the US , and SCF certification in Europe . Based on the application, an appropriate additive can be recommended for use in the degradable plastic.

Major components used in the manufacture of TDPA additives are listed on the FDA GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) list of chemicals. Those not on the GRAS list meet the requirements of the “No Migration Exemption" so that the additives are not expected to become part of the food they package.

Major ingredients used in TDPA additives are listed on the EU Plastics Directive (2002/72/EC). Those components not listed meet the migration requirements for food packaging.

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Degradable Bags - Buying Guide!

Looking on the internet and finding a right supplier of plastic bags can be daunting. What we can't help is to provide you with bags but we can list a points you should consider buying a quality degradable bags at cheap prices:

  • Lowest Prices
    Compare prices in the industry & Save. For an example Polybags Limited, UK offers the lowest price on stock and custom degradable bags. They're committed to offering you low prices, so they'd love to know if you found a better price for any bags at another retailer.

  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Again consider buying from a supplier who offers 100% no quibbles guarantee such as Polybags Limited, UK.

  • Manufacture Bags to Your Specifications
    Not any supplier would have any size you need in stock so choose a supplier who can make the bags as per your need...

  • No Minimum Order
    Choose a supplier who can offer you a low quantity purchase.

  • Fastest Turnaround Time
    If you looking for a custom bags and quick turnaround choose a manufacturer not merchants.

  • Free Sample
    If you unsure request a Free sample of your product before you buy. Polybags Limited,UK offers this service at no obligation.

  • Free Delivery
    Calculate total cost of plastic bags including delivery coz some retailer may sell cheap bags but charge an extra on delivery.

Polybags Limited is UK's top supplier of degradable bags and film which offers most of above benefits....

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Buy Stock Degradable bags

Along with our custom capabilities, we stock huge range of degradable bags. Various sizes and styles of degradable bags are ready for immediate shipping/delivery.

  1. Convert your kitchen waste into fertilizer using Polybags degradable compobag & wrapping sheet - Place your kitchen waste into our Compobag and Wrapping sheet, put it on your compost heap and the bag/sheet will slowly decompose along with its organic waste.

  2. Free up landfill using Polybags degradable refuse sacks, bin liners & carrier bags - Ideal for landfill disposal application when it is buried or in prolonged contact with soil.

  3. Protect your valuables using biodegradable loose fill - Ideal for protective packaging: Light, clean and odour free, this naturally friendly packaging material is 100% biodegradable water-soluble. It can be used in manual or automatic dispensing machines

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Need a Custom Size or Print on Degradable Bags?

If you looking for a bespoke degradable bags then you have come to the right place.

Polybags Limited is a custom manufacturer (extruder and converter) of degradable film and bags. Specializing in all types of degradable and biodegradable film or bags.

Please click here to our complete range of degradable bags.

Summary Range of Capabilities

  • Minimum Film Width 1" (25mm)
  • Maximum Film Width 55" (1400mm) [Note - max 50" if flat un-gussetted film required]
  • Minimum Film Thickness 80 gauge (20micron) in special high melt films, otherwise 100 gauge (25micron)
  • Maximum Film Thickness 1000 gauge (250micron) [Note - max 600g above 40" width]

Film available as Layflat Tubing or Sheeting (Centre Fold, Double Wound, Single Wound and J-Fold)

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Supermarket gives out 100% degradable bags

Felicity Lawrence, consumer affairs correspondent Monday September 2, 2002 The Guardian

The Co-op supermarket is introducing Britain's first 100% degradable plastic bag today to reduce landfill waste.

One third of its carrier bags will be degradable by December. In two years' time, all of its bags will be made from a new petro-chemical based material that degrades almost completely in three years, leaving carbon dioxide, water, and a small amount of mineralisation in the soil.

The British retail industry uses approximately 8bn plastic bags a year, handing out for free an average of 323 bags a year to each household, or enough to carpet the entire planet every six months. Standard bags take more than 100 years to degrade.

Environment minister Michael Meacher recently raised the idea of a plastic bag tax to curb consumption. In Ireland, where a tax equivalent to 9p per bag has been imposed, the numbers of bags used has been reduced by 90%.

Reference: http://www.guardian.co.uk

Ritchies are now using only degradable checkout bags in all Ritchies Supermarkets and Liquor Stores.

Degradable Plastic Bags

Ritchies are now using only degradable checkout bags in all Ritchies Supermarkets and Liquor Stores.

Degradable bags are designed to break down in landfill conditions and are a better solution for the environment. They have a time controlled additive which means the bags start to break down in 18 months after manufacture - not hundreds of years!

The degradation process is activated by a time controlled additive, and is accelerated by exposure to oxygen, heat or mechanical pressure - all present in landfill conditions.

Degradable bags can still be reused as a bin liner or as a carry bag, and can also be returned to your Ritchies store to be recycled.

The waste hierarchy promotes Reduce, Reuse and Recycle - so first remember to bring your own reusable bags or refuse a bag if you don't need one. Calico bags, green bags and other alternatives are stocked in all Ritchies supermarkets.

However rest assured that if you forget to bring your own reusable bags, the checkout bags used by Ritchies will degrade and won't be around in hundreds of years.


Degradable Bread bags

The best thing since....

In an expansion of its policy to utilise degradable properties in packaging used for its products, The co-operative has become the first in the UK to adopt degradable bags for its sliced bread range.

The bags are produced from a modified polyethylene film which is extruded, printed and then converted into wicketted bags.

The special additive used to make the polythene film degradable was initially developed in conjunction with, and extensively tested by, VMB, part of British Polythene Industries (click here to visit their web-site). Parkside Performance Films, who supply the bags to The

co-operative's bread supplier, were then able to commence supplies of the degradable bread bags, after proving that the material had no detrimental effects on their production, the packing line or indeed the bread itself.

The additive is added as a part of the production process to allow total degradation of the plastic material, leaving only water, a minimal amount of carbon dioxide and a small amount of minerals compatible with soil. The technology has been independently tested and proven to be environmentally safe, leaving no toxic substances at the end of the degradation process. The material has also been tested as safe for direct food contact under EU standards.

Explanation of the mechanism of the degradable additive.

There are three separate mechanisms that occur when polyolefins (e.g. these polyethylene bread bags) containing the additive are exposed to the environment.

A. Microbial digestion of the directly biodegradable component or components. The micro-organisms digest directly biodegradable components from polyolefinic films and by removing this directly biodegradable component there is:

  • Weakening of the structure
  • Provision of greater surface area for the second mechanism
  • The surface becomes more hydrophilic and assists in the third mechanism

B. The oxidative or photo-oxidative breakdown of the polyolefin.

C. Microbial digestion or mineralisation of the polymer fragments.

For the compounds resulting from the oxidation of polyolefins, the rate can be compared to that for natural lignocelluloses found in wood. The slow mineralisation is important for the soil, because these products contribute to the organic content of the soil. Scientific analysis has shown that micro-organisms can convert the compounds from the oxidative or photo-oxidative breakdown of polyolefins into carbon dioxide.

Degradability and degradation timescales.

The additive to aid thermo-oxidative degradation was tested in accordance with Add-X Biotech standard operating procedure. This is a compostability test that simulates the composting process. In accelerated testing the sample film with the additive showed a large reduction in elongation to break after 5 days at 800C and after 6 days of heat ageing the film disintegrates to the extent that it is unable to be handled. Compared to a standard film with no additive at 6 days under the same conditions the Stress at Yield (MPa) was 393 and % Strain was 631.

The performance of the bags is not affected in terms of strength, or the shelf life of the bread. The bags of course can still be reused for other uses, within the timescales limited by the additive, and they can also be recycled in the normal plastic waste stream (as polythene film). Freezing the bread in the bag is not a problem either.

Our new degradable bread bags are another positive indication that The co-operative and its suppliers are active in their search for more environmentally-sound packaging, and The co-operative will be using degradable and compostable technologies wherever possible in its range.


All Tesco bags 'to be degradable'

Supermarket giant Tesco has said all its carrier bags will be degradable from September.

The bags break down in as little as 60 days into materials such as carbon dioxide and water with no harmful residue, unlike plastic bags.

The firm hopes a billion fewer plastic bags a year will be used in a bid for it to be more environmentally-friendly.

The Co-op first introduced degradable bags in 2002 and Sainsbury's have trialled compostable bags.

Bag tax

Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy announced the measure as part of a 10-point plan, which include halving Tesco stores' energy use by 2010 compared with the year 2000.

But Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Huhne said he would rather see a tax on plastic bags introduced.

"Biodegradable plastic bags in themselves can have an adverse environmental impact by creating greenhouse gases within landfill sites.

"The government should look again at introducing some form of plastic bag tax which will make supermarkets and consumers think twice before they give away and use plastic bags in the first place."

The company has also pledged to reduce deliveries to its local Express convenience stores to cut congestion.

It aims to double the amount of material customers return to stores for recycling by 2008.

Addressing the Work Foundation think tank, Sir Terry urged the government to back its plans by allowing developments to go ahead.

"Much of this new sustainable technology, for example wind turbines at our stores, requires planning permission", he said.

Tesco first introduced degradable bags in its stores two years ago.

It estimates 719 million degradable carrier bags have since been used by customers, saving the equivalent of 6,035 tonnes of non-degradable plastic.


Somerfield introduces disappearing bags

Degradable bags

Somerfield has introduced an environmentally responsible alternative to the standard carrier bag in response to growing concerns about landfill and littering. The new carrier bags look identical to traditional ones, but are made from Europackaging's degradable polythene. This important step is fully supported by The Soil Association as a positive contribution to the environment.

Our new carriers were introduced to selected stores on 26th November 2002 and were rolled out nationwide from February 2003 onwards. Programmed to have a usable life of 18 months, they can be used and reused just like conventional carrier bags, but will biodegrade once put into commercial scale compost heaps.

To make our degradable launch a 'joined-up' initiative, we will also be introducing bin liner packs in store made from the same degradable material.The technology is branded as dw3™ and utilises a special additive, which allows time-controlled total degradation of the plastic material to leave only water, carbon dioxide and biomass. This form of degradable plastic is unique to Europackaging and is already used for other applications, such as refuse sacks, fruit & veg packaging and mailing film.

If you prefer a more durable bag that you can reuse, our 'bag for life' is available for 10p. While it is not degradable, you can still contribute to the environment by using it over and over again.

Making a positive contribution

Each year, the UK grocery industry uses enough carrier bags to carpet the planet twice and these conventional carriers take 100 years or longer to degrade. Even if we try to reuse plastics, they still end up in landfill, as there are few schemes available to recycle them due to the large range of polymer types involved. Conventional plastic bags in landfill, delay domestic 'green' waste (potato peelings, tea bags, etc..) inside them from naturally biodegrading, because the bacteria activity is encapsulated within the plastic. This is where degradable bags can make a big 'hidden' effect, creating available space and helping landfill settle quickly, instead of creating pockets of unsettled rubbish.

On top of this, we believe that these new bags will help to reduce the long-term effects of problems such as littering, enabling Somerfield customers to contribute to the environment without any massive change to their current behaviour. The new dw3™ bags can simply be used and re-used and then responsibly disposed of, when they will disappear completely.

The process

The bags are just as strong as conventional plastic bags, but are programmed to have a usable life of 18 months. After this, the structure starts to weaken as the bags begin to degrade. The end result is that the plastic loses all of the water and gas within its structure to leave minerals that are compatible with soil.

Somerfield bags are not reliant on microbial presence (biological activity) to break down, but if they are put into commercial scale composting** heaps, they will eventually become biodegradable.

The technology has been independently tested and proven to be environmentally safe, leaving no toxic substances at the end of the degradation process, and has also been tested as safe for direct food contact under EU standards.

***Composting exceeding the minimum temperature of 55°C required in The Composting Association Standards for Composts. (Ref; Emily Nichols 01933227777).


Insight into Our Degradable bags