Spar.
  • We tested paper bags from Checkers, Pick n Pay and Spar to see which could hold the most weight.
  • Our goal was to fit as many wine bottles into a single bag and then shake it until the bag broke.
  • There was one clear winner. 

South Africans use between 30kg and 50kg of plastic per person per year. Of late, supermarkets have introduced a range of bags to help reduce this consumption.

One option in stores is paper bags, which are considered to be more environmentally friendly than the plastic options.

However, they come at a higher price than their plastic alternatives. 

Business Insider South Africa tested paper bags from Checkers, Pick n Pay and Spar to see which can handle the most weight. For the test we chose to fill the bags with the one item we all fear will shatter into a million pieces when on a cash-strapped shopping experience: wine.

We stocked up on the heaviest bottles we could find: Paarl Perle and Autumn Harvest. 

Our goal was to fit as many wine bottles into a single bag and then shake it until the bag broke. They didn't need much. 

There was one clear winner among the paper bags:


Pick n Pay’s R2 paper bag held 10.4kg.

Pick n Pay
Pick n Pay.

Pick n Pay’s R2 paper bag held the least amount of weight of all the bags we tested. It held 10.4kg worth of wine, the equivalent of 3 Autumn Harvests and 1 Paarl Perle.

The bag fell apart where the handle is glued to the bag. 

The bag is recycled in South Africa, made from 100% recycled paper and is made using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Africa certified paper materials. 

The FSC Africa certification ensures that products come from well managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits.


Checkers' R2.50 paper bag fared much better holding 12.8kg.

Checkers.

Checker’s paper bag came out strong holding 12.8kg. 

The bags are 100% recyclable, compostable, eco-friendly and made from FSC Africa certified materials.


The winner was Spar's R2.39 paper bag, which held a staggering 15.2kg.

Spar.

Spar’s paper bag held an impressive 15.2kg (1 Paarl Perle and 5 Autumn Harvests) - a full 3.2kg beyond the stated recommended weight, which Spar says is around 12kg.

The bag strained and broke at the handle. 

The paper bags are recycled in South Africa and made from FSC certified materials.

According to Spar, demand for these bags has exceeded expectations. The company aims to use recycled cardboard from SPAR packaging could in future be used to produce paper carrier bags.


Comparing paper with plastic bags

We recently did the same stress test on plastic bags. 

Read: We tested plastic shopping bags from Checkers, Pick n Pay, Spar, and Woolworths to see which can handle the most weight - they all surprised us

Plastic bag stress test
Plastic bag stress test.

If you are on a budget - it's clear that plastic bags will give you more bang for your buck than paper bags:

Pick n Pay

R2.00 paper bag = 10.4kg

R0.55 plastic bag = 16kg

You would need to use it 4 times in order make up the difference in cost of purchasing one standard 24 litre plastic bag (55c).

Checkers

R2.50 paper bag = 12.8kg

R0.60 plastic bag = 13.6kg 

You would need to use it 5 times in order make up the difference in cost of purchasing one standard 24 litre plastic bag (60c).

Spar

R2.39 paper bag = 15.5kg

R0.69 plastic bag = 16kg

You would need to use it 4 times in order make up the difference in cost of purchasing their new 24 litre plastic bag (69c). 


The verdict

Spar’s paper bag is the stand-out winner of this test. The others struggled to justify the extra cost compared with plastic bags.

However, paper bags still have the environmental edge.


For more, go to Business Insider South Africa.

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