Plastic Liners - Frequently Asked Questions

The change of food waste bags from compostable to plastic will happen over the next couple of months.

What’s new?

Food waste bags will be made of plastic rather than compostable bags currently used. This will allow you to reuse your old plastic bags such as bread bags, frozen food bags and cereal bags as liners in their food waste caddies.

What type of bags can I use?

You can either use bags provided by the authority, or you can purchase either plastic bags or corn starch bags from a variety of retail shops.

If you run out of the Council or purchased bags, then you can reuse old plastic bags. Suitable examples include bread bags, potato bags, fruit and vegetable bags, sandwich/freezer bags or thin carrier bags (please do not use the thick ‘bag for life’ type bags).

You should avoid ‘double bagging’ of the food waste and should not include rigid plastic containers.

Are the bags used of recycled plastic?

Yes. We have sourced bags made of a high recycled content (around 75%)

How does the new process work?

Anaerobic digestion mimics the working of a cow’s gut. Food is digested in giant tanks using natural bacteria and the methane gas produced is captured (unlike the cow!) and burnt to generate electricity. A by-product of this process is a rich fertiliser which is used to spread on local farmland.

What happens to the bags?

Once removed, the bags are then squeezed dry and sent to an ”Energy from Waste” plant to produce more electricity

Will I still be able to get council food waste bags?

Yes, food waste bags will still be available from Council buildings including the Civic Centre in Pontypool, Ty Blaen Depot in New Inn, the HWRC in New Inn, Cwmbran Library and the Medical Resource Centre, Middle Coed Cae Road, Blaenavon, NP4 9AW. The new bags will be the same size as the old ones but will be made from recycled plastics.

I’ve still got old council food waste bags left – can I still use them?

Yes, it makes sense to use up your old food waste bags wherever possible.

Do I still have to remove any plastic packaging from my food waste?

If the food waste is in a plastic bag (such as an old bag of potatoes or bread) there is no need to remove it. Other packaging such as food trays must be removed.

Why don’t you keep the old compostable bags?

Compostable bags require air and light to help break them down. The anaerobic digester operates in the dark and in the absence of air so cannot process compostable bags. All bags are separated from the food and burnt to produce electricity.

Additionally, food waste tends to stick to compostable bags. This results in more food waste being rejected and sent with the bags for disposal at an “energy from waste” facility. Less waste is rejected with the use of plastic bags which means more waste is recycled!

Size of bags

The new plastic food bags will fit into current food waste caddies used by residents.

Carrier Bags

Food Waste Contractor, Severn Trent Green Power have advised with regards to carrier bags they would not encourage use of “carrier bags” however if residents run out of plastic food waste bag they would rather residents use a thin plastic bag and continue to put their food waste in the caddy rather than black bags. Ideally, residents would use the council’s liner but a thin, transparent plastic bag is fine.  This applies only to the really cheap single use bags and not the thicker “bag for life”.

I thought that Torfaen decided to stop providing bags?

Last year, as part of the budget mitigation measures, the Council suggested withdrawing the provision of compostable bags due to the cost of providing them. However, prior to their removal it was agreed to try to seek an alternative more cost effective solution.  The provision of plastic bags not only increases the amount of food waste recycled but will also result in a saving of around £35k per annum to Torfaen.

Wouldn’t it be better to remove liners altogether?

It would be preferable not to use any food waste liners at all. Food waste can be placed directly into the brown caddy where they will be emptied into the lorry by our crews. It is your responsibility to keep your brown caddy clean between collections.

However, we appreciate that some residents like the cleanliness that the liners provide and they do help to keep the brown caddy clean.

Last Modified: 04/05/2022
For more information contact:

Call Torfaen

Tel: 01495 762200


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