Choosing the right plastic bag can be daunting given the number of choices. However, armed with some basic information, you'll be able to choose the right bag for your needs!
Eco-Friendly Plastic Bag Options and Alternatives
Available in a variety of styles and materials based on your needs, an eco-friendly plastic bag is a great choice for any business looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Not only are these bags reusable, but many are also recyclable and even biodegradable. Whether you need deli bags, t-shirt bags, or even handle bags for produce, there is an eco-friendly option to meet your needs. Many of these bags also feature a recycling symbol to make the environmentally-friendly use clear to customers.
For an eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags, paper bags are a great choice! Although they are often not as supportive as a plastic bag, paper bags are biodegradable and decompose much faster than plastic bags. Due to their material, they are also often recyclable. Paper bags are available in various colors, with or without handles, and come in different sizes for all of your food-wrapping needs.
Reusable shopping bags are great for a variety of businesses, and are designed for customers to use again and again. These durable bags can hold more than a standard paper or plastic bag, allowing customers to carry fewer bags for the same amount of groceries. They're often available in insulated and uninsulated varieties to ensure food is transported in the best manner possible. These bags also save you money on the cost of stocking paper and plastic bags, providing an eco-friendly and cost-savings benefit.
Types of Plastic Bag Materials
HDPE features a variety of qualities that make it one of the most common plastics used in the world and many of these qualities translate to making it an excellent material for plastic bags. HDPE is light-weight, resistant to temperature, water, and vapor, has high tensile strength, is relatively transparent, and meets FDA/USDA food handling guidelines. These qualities combine to make versatile bags that are excellent for both serving and storing food in retail and take out situations. HDPE plastic food bags will allow your grocery store, convenience store, deli, or restaurant to work with greater efficiency, no matter how you choose to utilize them.
This type of plastic is commonly used for food bags and utility bags. Because low density polyethylene is breathable, products stored without refrigeration or freezing will not last as long, compared to a polypropylene bag. Though not as strong as HDPE bags, LDPE bags are capable of storing bulk food items like fresh vegetables and fruits. Additionally, the clear plastic makes it easy to identify contents, so you can keep up in the fast-paced setting of a commercial kitchen. Highly versatile, the low melting point of LDPE makes these bags popular for use with heat sealing. Like HDPE, LDPE meets FDA/USDA food handling guidelines.
The biggest difference between LLDPE and LDPE plastic bags is that LLDPE food bags have a thinner gauge, but with the same strength. For example, a 0.85 mil thick LLDPE bag has the same strength as a 1.5 mil LDPE bag, allowing the user to "down-gauge" and save money! Similar to LDPE bags, LLDPE bags can be used for storing food in both refrigerators and freezers and the meet FDA/USDA food handling guidelines. These bags also allow for easy identification, and, as a highly versatile product, they are perfect for use in commercial kitchens.
Polypropylene bags combine excellent chemical resistance and strength. Unlike LDPE or LLDPE bags, polypropylene bags are not breathable, resulting in longer product shelf life for retail situations. Items like herbs, nuts, candies, and other confectioneries are perfect for storing in PP bags. Additionally, polypropylene bags are clearer than LDPE or LLDPE bags for enhanced product visibility. PP bags also have a high melting point, meaning they are great for heat sealing, and, similar to the other plastic food bag options, they are FDA/USDA approved.
Gauge is the term used to describe the thickness of a plastic sheet, or in this case, bag. It's usually measured in mil's or microns. Generally, a higher gauge food bag should be used if the contents are particularly sharp or heavy. The higher the gauge mil or micron, the thicker the bag is.1 mil = 0.001"
Plastic Food Bag Gusset Styles
This style of gusset allows the bag to expand into a box like formation when it's fully packed. This allows for more efficient storage than other style bags. Side gusset bags have many uses and come in a variety of sizes.
The bottom gusset allows a bag to stand up while being filled. Bottom gussets come in round bottom, k-seal bottom, and plow bottom; the differences in these styles being how the gusset is sealed. This style is generally considered to be the most appealing gusseted bag. Bottom gussets do sacrifice volume efficiency when compared to side gusset bags.
This style of bag doesn't expand as much as side or bottom gusset bags. Flat bags are ideal for small, lightweight items such as cookies, pretzels, chips, or candy.
Seal and Closure Styles
Flip Top or Tuck Top bags may also be referred to as "Flip and Lip". This style is common in deli saddle bags and sandwich bags. To close the bag, the extra "flip" material can be tucked and rolled into the "lip".
Seal Top, or recloseable, bags close securely to seal in freshness better than fliptop bags, or bags that close with a twist tie. Seal tops are available in sandwich, deli, and storage bag styles. These bags are great plastic bags for food storage.
Slide Seal bags are similar to seal top except they feature a small plastic "zipper" to close the seal, resulting in a more secure closure. Slide seal bag styles commonly include sandwich, deli, and food storage bags.
Common Bag Styles
Plastic Bread Bags are similar to regular plastic food bags in terms of gusset styles. However, they're usually specifically sized for common types of bread, such as French bread or 1 lb. loaves.
Micro Perforations available on several of the bread bags we carry allow excess moisture to escape while letting a small amount of air in to keep crusty breads crusty!
Deli Saddle Bags are available plain or printed, with your choice of closure style. They're usually HDPE and can be used with a saddle bag stand for easy dispensing. Deli saddle bags are mainly designed for the sale of sliced deli meats, cheeses, and vegetables, but are also great for cookies, sandwiches, rolls, or other similar items.
Bags on Rolls are available for several food service applications. For example, produce bags on rolls dispense easily and take up minimal shelf space. Additionally, several of our sandwich bags and other food bags come on rolls for easy dispensing when used in high volume pre-packaging applications. Additionally, some of the bags without seal tops include twist ties to provide you with a secure closure for increased freshness. For bags that don't have twist ties included, twist ties can be found here.
T-Shirt Bags are versatile and widely used in a variety of retail situations from grocery stores to convenience stores, take out restaurants and even markets. Made of HDPE, the most common t-shirt bag sizes are 1/6 (22" x 7" x 12"), and 1/8 (18" x 5" x 10"). We provide t-shirt bags of varying color for any situation or theme, and we even have "Thank You" bags for an added touch of customer appreciation. We also offer convenient t-shirt bag racks that keep your bags organized and tidy in your front- or back-of-house area.
We also offer a "green" option for those looking to be environmentally friendly. Our Green Herc biodegradable t-shirt bag utilizes an oxo-biodegradable additive to assist in the break-down process, giving it a faster rate of decay than normal plastic t-shirt bags.
Recloseable Food Bags, whether in seal top or slide seal configuration, are most often used for food storage or portioning where the bag will be opened repeatedly. Recloseable food bags keep products fresh longer, and are most often used to portion or store vegetables, cereals, dry ingredients, crackers, cookies, lunch meats, sandwiches, and other similar items.