The new bags, manufactured by Hertfordshire-based bag firm PMC Polythene, look and feel almost identical to the varieties made using oil-based plastics.
But they are made using plant-based materials and purport to break down in the presence of bacteria within a few months, compared to centuries for traditional plastics.
London Stanstead staff began giving out the new bags on Tuesday (17 December) and will distribute 50,000 of them over the course of the festive period. During the trial, customers and security staff will be asked to provide feedback on the new bags.
If feedback is positive, the new bags could be used to replace the 11 million plastic security bags currently handed out at the Airport on an annual basis.
While noting that some passengers had begun to question why bags are used at all in the wake of Blue Planet 2, the Airport maintains that it is legally required to make passengers carry liquids of no more than 100ml per item in hand luggage, and to place them into clear, re-sealable bags.
The Airport is, however, encouraging passengers to reuse their bags “as many times as possible”.
“As we reach the end of another busy year, tens of thousands of passengers have been passing through the terminal each day – each with a plastic bag for their liquids, many of which will simply end up in the bin,” Stanstead Airport’s environment manager Martin Churley said.
“Our first message to passengers is to think carefully about how often they use the non-recyclable plastic bags…However, we’re always on the lookout for new ways to cut down on waste, and trialling new compostable bags is just another example of how we are is leading the way in tackling some of the local environmental impacts which come with running this small town that we oversee here at London Stansted.”