The Next Generation of Garbage Bags?

New Manufacturing Technology Boosts Strength; Reduces Plastic

The humble garbage bag – also known as a can liner – often takes a backseat to floorcare, towel and tissue, soaps and sanitizer and other cleaning essentials. These products have been seen as a necessary but not very important component of a cleaning program and selecting them often isn’t given much thought. Yet the latest advancements in technology have transformed the way can liners are manufactured, so they can contribute to greater efficiency, increased sustainability, and cost savings.

Thicker Is Stronger – Or is it?

Over the years, the quality and performance of can liners were primarily judged by their thickness, known as gauge, measured in mils or microns. Understandably, the assumption was that the thicker the bag, the stronger it would be, but that’s no longer the case. Manufacturing techniques have evolved, and not all resins and manufacturing methods are created equal.

Today, there’s no longer such thing as a “1.5 mil bag”. Instead, the industry has shifted towards categorizing bags as “Regular Duty” to refer to their comparative strength, not their actual thickness. This change is driven by the realization that thickness alone doesn’t determine a bag’s strength or performance.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Another important factor in can liner selection is size. If you thought using one size of bag for multiple receptacle types and sizes would save time and money, it’s time to think again. More often or not, this approach results in over or under buying, so bags are either too big or too small. A larger bag than necessary uses more plastic and costs more – and that’s neither budget nor environmentally friendly! On the other hand, too small a bag often results in spills and other messes, driving additional labour costs.

What Are Next Gen Garbage Bags?

Understanding can liner composition and technology is important for a few reasons. First, using the right size and type of bag can reduce plastic usage, save money, and lower labour costs. Second, advancements in manufacturing technology have led to extrusions methods that actually make stronger bags using less plastic, saving both material and cost without compromising strength.

The Facts on High Density & Low Density

Can liners are extruded plastic products made from resin, which is derived from petroleum. There are two primary types of resins used in can liner production: High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and Linear Low-Density Polyethylene (LLDPE).

LLDPE Can Liners:

These bags are the ones you are most familiar with, and they feel soft and stretchy to the hand. They also:

  • Use the most versatile film to produce institutional can liners.
  • Exhibit outstanding puncture and tear resistance due to their high tensile strength.
  • Are very flexible and elongate under stress, making them suitable for various applications.

HDPE Can Liners:

You may be less familiar with these bags, but you will have felt smaller plastic bags that have a “crispy” texture and feel thinner and lighter than the traditional LLDPE garbage bags. These are:

  • Three times stronger and more durable than ordinary polyethylene liners of the same thickness.
  • Made of high-density polyethylene resins, offering superior temperature resistance making them suitable for indoor and outdoor use, even in extreme conditions.
  • Ideal for containing liquids and damp materials as they provide superior moisture protection.

Can liners have come a long way from the traditional gauge-based measurements to prioritizing strength, efficiency, and sustainability. Understanding the differences between HDPE and LLDPE will save you money, reduce plastic usage, and improve the efficiency of cleaning and maintenance programs. And you thought they were just garbage bags…

To learn more about right-sizing your garbage bag program, use our handy online Right-Size Tool!

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