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A Timeline of the Plastic Bag Industry

When single-use plastic bags were first introduced into the marketplace, consumers heralded them as an amazing, "space-age" product, never considering the long-term effects of their convenience.

  • 1957 - The first baggies and sandwich bags on a roll are introduced.
  • 1958 - Poly dry cleaning bags compete with traditional brown paper.
  • 1966 - Plastic bag use in bread packaging takes over 25 to 30 percent of the market.
  • 1966 - Plastic produce bags on a roll are introduced in grocery stores.
  • 1969 - The New York City Sanitation Department's "New York City Experiment" demonstrates that plastic refuse bag kerbside pickup is cleaner, safer and quieter than metal trash can pick-up, beginning a shift to plastic can liners among consumers.
  • 1974/75 - Retailing giants such as Sears, J.C. Penney, Montgomery Ward, Jordan Marsh, Allied, Federated and Hills switch to plastic merchandise bags.
  • 1973 - The first commercial system for manufacturing plastic grocery bags becomes operational.
  • 1977 - The plastic grocery bag is introduced to the supermarket industry as an alternative to paper sacks.
  • 1982 - Kroger and Safeway start to replace traditional craft sacks with polyethylene "t-shirt" bags.
  • 1990 - The first blue bag recycling program begins with kerbside collection.
  • 1990 - Consumer plastic bag recycling begins through a supermarket collection-site network.
  • 1992 - Nearly half of U.S. supermarkets have recycling available for plastic bags.
  • 1996 - Four of five grocery bags used are plastic.

In the 50+ years that have since passed, the single-use plastic bag has dominated the global market, eliminating almost all other alternatives.




You'll feel good about making a commitment to use only plastic bag alternatives when you shop.


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