InfoGreen Information About KCLS
Eco-Friendly Bags: Another Way KCLS Chooses Green
Offering patrons eco-friendly bags for carrying their library materials is just another way the King County Library System (KCLS) is choosing to adopt greener practices. A supply of eco-friendly BioBags was ordered in early March 2008 after staff explored available options to traditional plastic bags. The eco-friendly bags were first offered at KCLS’ 44 community libraries in June 2008.
The BioBag Basics
The eco-friendly bags, called BioBags, are 100 percent compostable and biodegradable. BioBags are produced from cornstarch and vegetable oil, rather than polyethylene, which is used to produce most plastic bags. The material that is used to make BioBags is called Mater-Bi and contains GMO-free starch and other renewable resources. Even the inks and dyes that are used to color the bags are soybean-based. It may take more than 100 years before a plastic bag even begins to degrade, whereas BioBags are designed to decompose in less than a year. To learn more about BioBags, please visit www.biobagusa.com.
Compostable and BiodegradableBioBags are 100 percent compostable, which means they meet three identified criteria established by the American Society for Testing & Materials: they break down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass at the same rate as paper; they are indistinguishable after composting; and they do not produce any toxic substances. The BioBags also are 100 percent biodegradable, which has slightly more lenient standards.
Transitioning to BioBagsAs it would be wasteful to dispose of the existing supply of plastic bags at KCLS libraries, both varieties of bags will be offered until the supply of plastic bags is depleted. BioBags will then continue to be ordered and stocked at KCLS libraries. It is hoped that environmentally conscious patrons will reuse the eco-friendly bags on subsequent trips to the library. The BioBags will feature the KCLS brandmark and also the phrase “Choosing Green,” to let people know this is a choice KCLS has made in order to adhere to green standards that are important to many patrons and staff.
Canvas Book Bags
A related topic is the selling of canvas book bags at KCLS libraries. While
it is against KCLS Policy to sell bags at libraries, Friends groups can and
many currently do including: Auburn, Black Diamond, Burien, Carnation, Des
Moines, Fairwood, Federal Way, Issaquah, Lake Forest Park, Newport Way, Mercer
Island, Redmond, Richmond Beach, Shoreline, Vashon, Woodinville and Woodmont.
Note: Sammamish Friends are currently ordering bags. Bellevue Friends offer a canvas tote with a new Friends membership at Bellevue Regional, Lake Hills and the Library Connection @ Crossroads, but do not sell them to patrons.
Disposing of BioBags
When Biobags are no longer useable, they should be placed in a yard waste container along with food or yard debris. BioBags should not be placed in plastic bag recycling bins at grocery stores or in curbside recycling carts or bins. When compostable bags are combined with plastic bags, it makes the recycled plastic less valuable. BioBags may be disposed of in the regular garbage, although this will defeat the purpose of the bags. At a landfill, the bags are placed with other waste in a protective barrier to prevent contact with soil and water. This prevents contamination of the surrounding environment, but also hinders the way BioBags degrade.
Last Updated: November 21, 2008