Which “green” are they after?

Wal-Mart has announced a new “cheap” reusable bag to be in stores this October. These bags are going to sell for 50 cents each and ony contain a small portion of recycled plastics. The store plans on decreasing its use of typical plastic t-shirt bags by 25% in the US and 50% in other countries. The new reusable tote bags are intended to help the green movement. But I can’t help but wonder which “green” Wal-Mart is really after. This bag is a good example of “green-o-nomics” or just plain Green-washing.The bags sell for 50 cents to $1 each – fair enough. But Wal-Mart’s cost is only 15 to 30 cents per bag, and they no longer have to pay to give away a 5-cent t-shirt bag in the process. So if they sell each reusable bag for $1 and it is used 20 times, that saves another $1. That’s $1.70 towards gross profit with an investment of 30 cents! Why wouldn’t Wal-Mart use a 100% recycled t-sack that can be made totally bio-degradable? Regardless of what Wal-mart does you can use them and have another way to set yourself apart.

Did I mention that the bag actually is made of plastic? It is PET or Polyethylene terephthalate (Wikipedia) – that is what plastic soda bottles are made from. I like the bag – just wish these people would start with the truth.

We say it makes more sense for everyone to continue to use low energy, recycled plastic bags that are both recyclable and biodegradable, and then to recycle them back into raw materials. That is the core issue in our opinion.

Taxing plastic bags

It almost goes without saying that economist Peter Nickerson of Seattle (the green capital of America) supports aggressive environmental policies. So you would think he is all over the new bag tax…right? Other US cities have banned disposable plastics but Seattle is the first to try taxing them. But a group of 20,000 citizens has petitioned to have the bag tax put to ballot. The city is ill informed, says Nickerson. A recent study found that the majority of Seattle residents already recycle plastic bags or reuse them for sack lunches or trash bags. What if, Nickerson asks, residents begin replacing their disposable/recyclable type 2 plastics with the more durable, fabric like polypropylene type 5 ones which are not as recyclable? Even if residents opt for canvas bags, people must reuse them at least 300 times to offset the resources that go into making them. The city disputes his figures, but we think he is more right than not.

The solution is simply to use and recycle polyethylene plastic bags.

Are you carrying food in sweatshop bags?

You could be, according to the Scottish Sunday Express, who did an investigation into those reusable canvas bags. They found bags being made in Calcutta under deplorable conditions using child labor on squalid factory floors. At primitive work benches, cotton and jute bags were being sewn inside out, which means human hands and feet have to work inside these bags. We realize that not all plants in India operate this way, but how can you tell? The best way to be sure of your bags’ hygiene is to buy those bags that are made in a US food-safe facility which is inspected by the US government. All Encore Plastic Bags sold by Nashville Wraps are made in an environmentally certified, USFDA food-safe facility in Southern California that supplies carryout bags to the US restaurant industry.

China’s changing face – A must read.

China is the predominant source for the production of PET and non-woven polypropylene reusable shopping bags as well as many other packaging products. We buy them from Chinese companies just like everyone else does. But China is having its own economic and social reforms which are impacting not only reusable bags but every low-end product we import from them.

The Chinese economy is experiencing growing pains, which have been amplified by exchange rate issues, changing labor laws, severe winter weather and the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. This “perfect storm” of factors has impacted US importers and is already resulting in significant price increases and supply disruptions.

The Chinese government is pushing to move China higher up the value chain for manufactured goods. Reduction of tax rebates, increased workers’ rights, better wages, and increasing raw material prices are adversely effecting low-cost production.

The flexibility and unlimited capacity once guaranteed by Chinese suppliers is no longer realistically attainable, with lead times quickly increasing. Chinese manufacturers are now faced with increasing material and labor costs alongside tighter regulations. Chinese manufacturers are unable to absorb all of these new costs. As a result, they are pushing price increases to their customers.

The labor law enacted January 1, 2008 has made many changes come quickly. Lead times are increasing because workers are unable to put in the extra hours previously available to them. With the loss of excess overtime wages, many workers are asking for higher base salaries to make up the difference. As a result, firms can afford fewer people to complete the same amount of work as before. Processes that took 45-60 days now require 90 days to complete.

Conclusions

The Chinese government wants to make higher-value products that create more wealth and better jobs in China. The prices of those inexpensive plastic bags, affordable reusable totes, ribbons, bows, gifts and gadgets are all going up. Many importers will be looking to Vietnam, who still for the most part hates America. The solution? Buy alternative American products! Nashville Wraps’ goal is to provide them to you!

All NashvilleWraps.com products show the country of origin on our website. When we are out of products made in China, we do not reccomend you place them on backorder and in fact are taking measure to prevent backorders on certain imports.

Nashville Wraps

Nashville Wraps is the leader in eco-friendly gift & gourmet packaging. Our focus since 1976 has been beautiful packaging, competitive prices, fast shipping and taking care of our customers. We listen. We care about your success. Most of all, we want to make your business look good.

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Leave a Comment

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Dena October 12, 2008 at 8:22 am

In reading the article, I myself really did not understand the full impact of using plastic bags v/ the reuseable totes.

As far as the made in China, I really do agree. We should try to buy American as much as possible, the problem is, we are so use to paying a substantial lower price on these items, and when we want to change things up, we see the price difference and all of a sudden, we have a WOW factor. Maybe the solution to this is change a little at a time instead of all at once!
Even my 9 year old daughter said the other day while looking on the bottom of a toy or something said, I’m so sick of everything made in China! 9 years old! I had the WOW factor there.

I hope that Nashville Wraps keeps up with what they are doing, because in the long run, it’ll made this a better country. One Step At a Time!

kim October 11, 2008 at 8:59 pm

Since starting my business both web and retail store, I vowed to only use Made in USA cotton products, including the pacifier accented in my baby clothing bouquets. Frankly, I have a superior product, my competition uses clothing made in China. Their profit margin is HUGE but I am standing firm…only MADE IN THE USA.
http://www.peekabooquet.com

Kathy October 9, 2008 at 7:42 am

Great article – really opened my eyes to a variety of issues. My one thought over the years to “combat” cheap China imports. Re-open U.S. factories and “employ” prisoners who are non-violent lifers. These prisoners are already “working” at making licence plates, or items for state facilities like colleges, hospitals etc. Why not start making more of our own retail items here in the states? Just a thought.

Linda Szymanski October 9, 2008 at 7:30 am

The article was very informative. I, for one, have grown VERY tired ot seeing Made in chima on almost everything I pick up. In fact, I have started trying to buy as much as possible from the United States, even if it does cost a little more. Please keep in mind that we can still produce things in this country, too and while certainly it will cost more, perhaps it costs us all a LOT more not to buy American Made Products. Thank you.

Robby September 28, 2008 at 9:07 am

This is a great article on reusable bags from the Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122238422541876879.html

William Green September 27, 2008 at 9:30 am

Kukos, Robby! Well said as usual. I wish everyone would read this. I fear we will all live to regret our China dependence and our foolish environmental laws.

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