A History Of The Plastic Shopping Bag
A novelty in the 1970s, plastic shopping bags are now an omnipresent product found in every corner of the world.
So where did they come from?
1933 ĘC Polyethylene, the most commonly used plastic, is created by accident at a chemical plant in Northwich, England. While polyethene had been created in small batches before, this was the first synthesis of the material that was industrially practical. Seeing its potential, it was initially used in secret by the British military during World War II.
1965 ĘC The one-piece polyethylene shopping bag is patented by the Swedish company Celloplast. Designed by engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin,the plastic bag quickly begins to replace cloth and plastic in Europe.
Photo: Flickr / jericl cat
1979 ĘC Already controlling 80 per cent of the bag market in Europe plastic bags begin to spread to the United States and other countries around the world. Plastic companies begin to aggressively market their single-use product as superior to paper and reusable bags.
Photo: Creative Commons
1982 ĘC Safeway and Kroger, two of the biggest supermarket chains in the United States, switch to plastic bags. Though they are yet to be fully accepted by shoppers, single-use plastic bags are cheaper than alternatives, and more stores begin to follow Safeway and Krogerí»s switch. By the end of the decade, plastic bags will have almost entirely replaced paper bags around the world.