The History of Polythene Bags

//The History of Polythene Bags

The History of Polythene Bags

The first American and European patent application relating to polythene bags can be seen dating back to the early 1950’s, however these patents show a secondary manufacturing process to fix the handles to the body of the bag. The early 1960’s saw the invention of the modern lightweight shopping carrier bag by a Swedish engineer Sten Gastaf Thulin. While Thulin was working with Celloplast of Norrköping, Sweden he developed a method of manufacturing a simple one-piece bag by folding, welding and die cutting the handles from a flat tube of polythene. This design produced a simple yet strong bag with a heavy load carrying capacity and was later patented worldwide by Celloplast in 1965.

During the mid-1980’s, a packaging war had erupted with plastic shopping bags at the forefront of the highly publicised disputes. Plastic bags became common for carrying groceries from the store to vehicles and homes throughout the developed countries. During this period, polythene bags were dramatically reducing the usage of paper bag along with other packaging materials such as glass metal and timber.

A major innovation occurred in 1992 with Sonoco Products Company of Hartsville, SC patenting the “self-opening polythene bag stack”. This redesign meant as a bag is removed from the rack, it opens the next bag, reducing the time taken to pack shopping.

From this point forward, the usage of polythene bags only increased. Different variations of polythene bags were designed such as mailing bags, postal sacks, duffle bags, patch handle carriers as well as flexi-loop carrier bags. During day to day lifetimes, pretty much everyone will come into contact with a polythene bag or some form of plastic packaging. In 2014, figures suggested in the UK alone, the top seven supermarkets used over 7.64 billion polythene carrier bags, these figures excluding main online retailers such as Amazon, who use millions of mailing bags per year.

In 2003, Ireland and Denmark became the first two countries within Europe to introduce a levy for plastic bag usage, which was followed by slew of other European countries. England were the last UK nation to introduce such a scheme in 2015. Already this levy has had a dramatic effect on plastic bag usage with an 85% reduce in single use bags given out by major retails – down from 140 to 25 bags per average person each year.

As a polythene manufacturer,, are able to manufacture environmentally friendly products to suit your packaging needs. Our research and development team are continually scouring the market for innovative packaging and new products such as sugarcane based resin that is a carbon positive polythene. Our high quality grey mailers are made from recycled material with still maintaining the high strength and puncture resistance.

Contact our sales team on 0121 270 6252 or email to discuss your environmentally friendly packaging requirements.


About the Author:

Leave A Comment