The ultimate guide to bags for packaging

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From safeguarding products during transit to organising your warehouse, bags have transcended their basic purpose to become integral components of branding, protection, and convenience.

They are often the unsung hero of the packaging world, as bags are used throughout the packing process but not always remembered.

Whether you’re a business owner seeking the perfect packaging solution or an intrigued consumer curious about the science behind that appealing bag, join us as we explore the multifaceted realm of bags and begin to understand how their unique features can impact your packaging decisions.

In this guide, you’ll find information about the different types of bags used for packaging. You’ll also learn about choosing the right bag for you, see some popular products and find answers to some of the frequently asked questions about bags!

a guide to bags for packaging

What are the types of bags used for packaging?

Bags are one of the great versatile packaging products used throughout the packing process. To give you an idea of the range of products available, we have listed some of the most popular bags commonly used in retail and industrial sectors:

  • Polythene bags/plastic bags
  • Carrier bags/paper carrier bags/Plastic carrier bags
  • Paper bags
  • Mailing bags/dispatch sacks
  • Grip seal bags
  • Bin liners and refuse sacks
  • Gusseted paper bags
  • Counter paper bags
  • Film fronted bags
  • Paper mailing bags

There is a bag for every occasion, from protecting your products to organising in the warehouse. Many bags are available in both plastic and paper materials, so there’s an option for everyone, including those who are sustainably minded.

Choosing the right product for you

The type of packaging bag you need will depend on what you’ll be using it for. There are a few things you should consider when choosing the bag you need:

  • Are your products lightweight or heavy?
  • What will you use your bag for, e.g. retail, food, waste disposal or posting products?
  • If you’re using bags for posting products, do they need to meet Royal Mail parcel sizes?
  • Do you need to buy bags in high volumes?

For example, if you’re shipping lightweight or letterbox-size products like clothes, you will probably want a mailing bag. Whereas if you need a bag to store products and seal them away, a grip seal bag will work well.

A guide to bag types, strengths and applications

Since each bag has its own unique qualities, we have curated a small guide as to the recommended application.

Type of bagMaterialStrengthApplications
Polythene bags / plastic bagsPlasticLight to heavy-duty – depends on the micron of the bag (higher micron = heavier duty)Suitable for a wide range of applications
Carrier bagsPlastic or paperLight to medium dutyRetail environments – e.g. shops, restaurants, bakers
Paper bagsPaperLight to medium duty – depends on the weight of the paper and applicationSuitable for a wide range of applications. Mailing bags, carrier bags, and food/counter bags are all available and made from paper.
Mailing bags / dispatch sacksPlastic or paperLight to medium dutyIdeal for internet retail and ecommerce packaging. Popular for fashion and apparel. Great for posting items that are not fragile.
Grip seal bagsPlasticLight to heavy-duty – depends on the micron of the bag (higher micron = heavier duty)Suitable for a wide range of applications. Great for re-sealing or storing products. Clear and write-on options are available.
Bin liners and refuse sacksPlasticHeavy dutyBin bags and refuse bags are great for the disposal or sorting of waste in business and home environments.
Gusseted paper bagsPaperLight to medium dutySuitable for retail or storage. Often used for food.
Counter paper bagsPaperLight dutyGreat for retailers. Can be used for fruit and veg, sweets, baked goods, and more.
Film fronted paper bagsPaper and plasticLight dutyPerfect for displaying or selling items in a retail environment. Popular for cakes, baked goods, and other food items.
Paper mailing bagsPaperLight to medium duty – depends on the weight of the paper and applicationGreat internet retail and ecommerce packaging. Ideal for fashion and apparel. Useful for posting items that are not fragile.
Recyclable and sustainable.
Organza bagsOrganzaLight duty / decorativeFor retail, gifting or at events. Adds a decorative touch, for smaller or more valuable items.
a guide to bags for packaging

We offer a wide range of bags to meet your shipping or storing needs. Our products are suitable for many industries to protect all products from mailing bags to refuse sacks and much more!

Below you will see a small range of popular bags we offer, but if you want a specific type, please contact us today!

  • Gusseted Paper Sacks – These brown paper sacks are made from high-quality, multi-ply, kraft paper, which is 100% recyclable. The sacks are thick and tough, with the special stitching at the base underpinning the strength and durability – perfect for keeping your products contained safely.
  • Grip Seal Polythene Bags – Grip seal polythene bags form a firm closure to keep contents sealed and secure, to re-seal when required. Grip seal polythene bags are also fully recyclable at bag collection points. Available with or without white write-on panels for easy identification. Plus, they are available in a selection of sizes.
  • Polythene Bags – Our polythene packing solutions offer a comprehensive choice of bags designed for light, medium and heavy-duty use in a wide variety of sizes. We supply across the spectrum of trade and retailer demand.
  • Paper Carrier Bags – Kraft paper carrier bags, available in a choice of white or brown paper, come with strong handles and a gusseted base, facilitating packing and creating an effective presentation.
a guide to bags for packaging

Frequently Asked Questions

Below we have listed some popular questions about bags, but if you have any more queries that are not listed, our team of experts will be happy to help you.

What are refuse sacks?

Refuse sacks are also commonly known as plastic bin bags. Not only are they lightweight, but they’re also durable and great at keeping waste bins clean. Sold in bulk, they offer a large capacity to suit all requirements!

Can you get custom printed bags?

Yes, at Macfarlane Packaging, we can help you with all types of custom packaging. This includes custom printed bags that have your logo and branding applied to them.

If you can’t find the packaging bags you’re looking for in our range, contact us, and we can source custom designed bags for you and let you know the minimum order quantity and bulk pricing. Custom printing can be applied to bags of all kinds, and we can even help with branded gift bags, retail bags, and custom printed carrier bags, as well as printed transit bags like mailing bags and dispatch sacks.

Which bag is best for your packaging process?

The kind of packaging bags you need will depend on their needed role within your packaging process.

For a recommendation tailored to your packing processes and product, contact us to speak with one of our packaging experts, who will help you determine the best bag for your requirements. If you would like any other packaging advice as well, why not contact us today!