FAQs About Plastic Bags

Follow these guidelines for selecting the right bag thickness (gauge) and size when ordering plastic bags for commercial use.

How do I select the right thickness (gauge) for the types of bags I need?

How do I select the right size bags for square or rectangular containers needing gusseted bags? 

How do I select the right size flat bags for square or rectangular containers?

How do I select the right size flat bags for round containers?

How do I select the right size pallet covers? 

How do I select the right size flat reclosable zip top bags?

How do I select the right size flat slide seal reclosable bags? 

Should I select HDPE, LDPE, or LLDPE sheeting?

 

Q: How do I select the right thickness (gauge) for the types of bags I need? 

A: Plastic bags, sheeting, and films are available in thicknesses ranging from thin & lightweight to thick & heavy duty. The measurement used for thickness, or gauge, is "mil", which is about 1/1000th of an inch. Note that mil is a distinct unit of measure and NOT an abbreviation for millimeter. Edco Source offers plastic bags, sheeting, and films in gauges from 0.2 mil to 6 mil. 

  • Gauges up to 1 mils are the thinnest bags - used for lightweight or temporary needs
  • 2-3 mil gauge plastics are widely used for medium duty applications, i.e., food transport
  • 4 mil plastics provides heavier protection, i.e., manufacuring packaging for sharp or heavy items
  • 6 mil plastics suit heavy-duty applications, i.e., construction tarps and puncture or tear resistance

 

Q: How do I select the right size bags for square or rectangular containers needing gusseted bags

A: Follow these steps: 

  1. Measure width (W), depth (D), and height (H) of the container. Note, when ordering bags height = length (L). 
  2. For perfectly square containers, W and D will be the same; for rectangular containers, W is the longer dimension and D is the shorter dimension. 
  3. When ordering bags, add 1" each to the measured W and D.
  4. Add a few extra inches to H to account for covering the contents or overhang. Based on the overall size of the container, H may be anywhere from 2" for small containers to 12" or more for large containers. 
  • Example:  
    Container size: 15" (W) x 11" (D) x 20" (H)
    Gusseted bag size: 16" (W) x 12" (D) x 24" (H)

 

Q: How do I select the right size flat bags for square or rectangular containers?

A: Follow these steps:

  1. Measure width (W), depth (D), and height (H) of the container. Note, when ordering bags height = length (L). 
  2. For perfectly square containers, W and D will be the same; for rectangular containers, W is the longer dimension and D is the shorter dimension. 
  3. When ordering flat bags, W + D + 2" = W you should order. 
  4. For H (L), add D + H + a few extra inches to H to account for covering the contents or overhang. Based on the overall size of the container, H may be anywhere from 2" for small containers to 12" or more for large containers. 
  • Example: 
    Container size: 14" (W) x 12" (D) + 20" (H)
    Flat bag size: 26" (W) x 34" (H)

 

Q: How do I select the right size flat bags for round containers?

A: Follow these steps:

  1. Measure the height (H) of the container. Note, when ordering bags height = length. 
  2. Measure the diameter of the container. Then multiply the diameter by 3.14 to get the circumference. Divide the circumference by 2. This will result in the measurement to be used for width (W). 
  3. When ordering bags, add 1" to the calculated W.
  4. For H (L), use H (measured in step 1) PLUS diameter (measured in step 2). Add 2" or more for overhang. 4"-6" is common for most large trash bins.
  • Example: 
    Container size: 24" (diameter) x 36" (H)
    Flat bag size: 38" (W) x 65" (H) 

 

Q: How do I select the right size pallet covers

A: Follow these steps:

  1. Measure width (W), depth (D), and height (H) of the pallet. Note, when ordering bags height = length (L). 
  2. For perfectly square pallets, W and D will be the same; for non-square pallets, W is the longer dimension and D is the shorter dimension. 
  3. When ordering pallet covers, add 1"-2" to the W and D of the pallet.
  4. H (L) may vary based on the height of items on the pallet. A common guideline is to take the estimated height needed and add 1/2 the depth to it. 
  • Example: 
    Pallet size: 30" (W) x 26" (D) x 35" (H)
    Gusseted bag size: 32" x 28" x 48"

 

Q: How do I select the right size flat reclosable zip top bags?

A: Follow these steps: 

  1. Measure width (W) across the bag from one edge to the other.
  2. Measure height (H) from the bottom of the zip seal to the bottom of the bag. Do NOT include the zip or the lip between the zip seal and the opening of the bag in this measurement. Note, when ordering bags height = length (L).
  3. If bags will be used for rigid items close to the size of the bag, add 1/2”-1” to the W and H so items will slip easily into the bag without tearing it.
  • Example:
    Size of flat, rigid item: 5-1/2" (W) x 11" (H)
    Flat reclosable bag size: 6" x 12"

 

Q: How do I select the right size flat slide seal reclosable bags? 

A: Follow these steps:

  1. Measure length (L) from the bottom of the slider closure to the bottom of the bag.
  2. Measure width (W) across the bag from one edge to the other.
  3. If bags will be used for rigid items close to the size of the bag, add 1/2”-3/4” to the L and W so items will slip easily into the bag without tearing it.
  • Example:
    Size of flat, rigid item: 5-1/2" (W) x 11" (H)
    Flat slide seal reclosable bag size: 6" x 12"

 

Q: Should I select HDPE, LDPE, or LLDPE sheeting?

A: These types of polyethylene (PE) sheeting are lightweight and should be selected based on the strength and durability needed:

  • Most common: Use (Low Density Polyethylene) for applications needing softer, more malleable, plastic sheeting. LDPE is not recommended if heat or puncture resistance are needed. Example: sandwich bags
  • Most versatile: Chose LLDPE (Linear Low Density Polyethylene) for the most flexibility in use. It’s soft and pliable like HDPE, yet is stronger and more durable. Example: bags used for product packaging
  • Strongest: Use HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) for applications needing denser, more rigid, stronger plastic sheeting. Its molecular composition means HDPE can withstand higher temperatures than LDPE or LLDPE. Example: trash can liners