Environmental Guide and Commitment

Templecoombe Ltd understands that in addition to our customers relying on us to advise them regarding the environmental impacts of the finished products, we also have a responsibility to reduce and minimise the environmental impact of our own operations and crucially the operations, of the full supply chain from the raw materials to the manufacturing process and the distribution throughout.

As with the examination of the pros and cons of wind power vs solar vs nuclear energy where even governments find it difficult to clearly define best practice and policy, the simple bag, its raw material and the whole process of manufacture and supply, in terms of its environmental impact is complex when examined. We have found it extremely difficult to obtain objective academic Life Cycle Analysis and Energy Audits for the different materials, and we have yet to find a material that has a clear-cut case in preference to others on the joint grounds of CO2 emissions and biodiversity conservation.

Templecoombe Ltd believes strongly in offering transparency to its customers whilst doing what we can to constantly monitor and look for new ways to improve. Here we have various scientifically approved studies from multiple countries (all in English) and we leave you as the customer to make your own decisions and choices. Also a thought provoking TED talk.



TED talk of Australian product designer Leyla Acaroglu: https://www.ted.com/talks/leyla_acaroglu_paper_beats_plastic_how_to_rethink_environmental_folklore

Whatever type of bag is used, the key to reducing the impact is to reuse it as many times as possible either for shopping or as a bin liner. This is arguably the single most important message to give to our customers, as well as considering the whole life cycle (resources, manufacture, distribution, usage, disposal) which the studies hopefully help with.

Raw Materials and Finished Bag - Click for more info
Raw Materials and Finshed Bag:

Historically there has undoubtedly been a problem with the excessive use of polythene bags (for example use of a polythene bag for only a newspaper or greetings card) and the disposal, or lack of responsible disposal causing unsightly litter and harm to wildlife. There are also limited facilities for recycling. However Templecoombe Ltd recognises that the polythene bag is practical (strong and waterproof), economic and actually has a low carbon footprint when you examine the full manufacture and distribution implications (see Manufacturing and Distribution). We promote thought in the nature and frequency of use from retailers and consumers, the re-use for shopping and bin liners and responsible disposal from end users. We are proud that we support UK manufacturers, which means less of a carbon footprint caused through importing and distribution.

Recycled vs Biodegradable vs Compostable

Recycled: The Government introduced the plastic packaging tax in April 2022 to try and ‘push’ this as the main direction of travel towards being more sustainable; also in line with the EU policies. Since then we have introduced film with a minimum 30% recycled content as standard; on the majority of lines. It is worth noting all the LDPE and HDPE film we sell is fully recyclable.

Biodegradable: An additive is mixed in the extrusion of the film which makes the polythene degrade either through the influence of heat and light or through the bio organisms in the soil once the bag is in landfill. Usual time to degrade once in landfill is approximately eighteen months. It is now taxed from April 2022, so we are tending to steer customers towards using the polythene with recycled content. Click here for information on tax applied

Compostable: According to the EN 13432 compostable classification the material must break down within 3 months to be compostable and have no polythene used in the process. These bags are most often made from cornstarch. This option is still in development. It is more costly and there are added complications with home vs industrial compatibility. It is now taxed from April 2022 so we are tending to steer customers towards using the polythene with recycled content. Click here for information on tax applied

Raw Materials and Finished Bag:


Paper has the advantage of being a naturally biodegradable and recyclable raw material. We only use factories using sustainable sources of paper and where possible we encourage customers to use FSC® certified paper. To achieve the most environmentally friendly paper bag you can use the following guide:

  • Choose a standard size bag to reduce waste of material and resources.
  • Use a natural brown kraft paper.
  • Do not laminate the bag, this will make it non biodegradable.
  • Use a handle made of paper (twist or tape) or cotton or paper rope
  • Choose FSC® certified paper

Raw Materials and Finished Bag:


Cotton is a natural fibre, it is durable and has the advantage that it will be reused. It is also biodegradable and compost-able. It can loose it’s shape and crease long term but is probably the easiest and most effective material to print on. The natural cotton is more environmentally friendly than the dyed coloured bags. A natural UK stocked bag with a front and reverse print will be a better environmental option than a bespoke size or print, imported individually.

Jute is an extremely strong, natural fibre. The jute is biodegradable but the plastic liner is not; however it is felt that for the longevity and reuse of the bag, on balance this makes sense. The lining means the bag keeps its shape indefinitely and is also water resistant. Jute is a coarse material so can cause problems with any fine, or very solid print and any tight registration. As with the cotton, a natural UK stocked bag with a front and reverse print will be a better environmental option than a bespoke size or printed coloured jute, imported individually.

Non Woven PP is a strong durable man made material, which is made from a by–product of plastic that is often otherwise not used or recycled plastic. It holds its shape well, is water resistant, offers a huge colour range and is a fairly good material to print on. Stocks are held at the UK factories so again a standard size and colour with a personalised print will be a better option environmentally.

Woven PP is made from plastic. It is possibly the most durable long lasting bag of all and offers flexibility with print. It is argued however that it is not made from recycled material, it is difficult to recycle and is non biodegradable.

Manufacturing and Distribution - Click for more info
Manufacturing and Distribution:

The manufacture and distribution of the various bags is complex but it is vitally important to examine the whole process and impact environmentally of producing each bag type.

As a generalisation the manufacture and distribution of polythene bags has one of the lowest carbon footprints of all. In a 2011 study by Britain’s Environmental Agency it found that on average the paper bag would need to be used around three times to be an environmentally better option and many of the bags for life around one hundred and thirty times. The majority of paper bags and bags for life use high energy in the growing of the raw material, the manufacturing process and are usually imported. Both are quite bulky so as well as travelling far further from source to end user they take up much more space and hence cause more of a carbon footprint in the distribution. As a generalisation on a medium size bag you would get around 20,000 polythene bags on a pallet, 5000 paper bags, 5000 cotton bags and 1,500 jute bags.

Airfreight has a much heavier carbon footprint than sea and road freight. We work closely with our customers to do what we can to negate the need to send goods by air.

The Sales Office - Click for more info
The Sales Office

We recognise that although our operations have a relatively low impact environmentally we still have a responsibility to reduce the impact of our day to day activity and to help advise customers make the best possible decisions they can. In order to do this we:

  • Train our sales staff to be as transparent as possible about the products and give as much information as they can when asked. We do not promote one ‘best’ option believing that this must be determined by the customer and their individual requirements and needs.
  • Encourage our customers to label their bags with how to recycle or dispose of them responsibly and inform the user about what material the bag is made of to help do this. Usually on or in the base of the bag.
  • Operate a diary system for each customer to remind them to keep an eye on their stock. This can reduce or negate any need for airfreight and allows us to use standard deliveries where orders are bulked together where possible.
  • Use electronic communications where possible and are constantly looking to reduce our consumption of paper
  • We recycle all our scrap paper and have significantly reduced our consumption of ‘virgin’ paper over the years.
  • We recycle printer cartridges and old computer equipment where we can
  • Strict ‘switch off’ policy. All our lights and computers are turned off by the last member of staff in the building at night.
  • Communal kitchen and tea and coffee making facilities. Our team are encouraged to bring in a packed lunch and use the facilities thus reducing any packaging from disposable cups and bought sandwiches.