There's Nothing Trashy about the History of Trash Bags

There’s Nothing Trashy about the History of Trash Bags

By AAA Polymer | Can Liners

Jul 30

Today, garbage bags or trash can liners are universally used throughout the world. Whether you’re in Greece or Green Bay, you can easily find one of the many types of trash bags. Trash bags have undoubtedly saved countless lives by preventing the spread of disease and containing germs. 

However, have you ever stopped to consider the history of trash bag? If you haven't, you’re not alone! Most people never think twice about the history of the trash bag. To remedy this problem, let’s take a quick trip down a trashy memory lane to review the history of trash bags. 

Before the History of Trash Bags Began 

Before the invention of trash bags, American colonists buried their trash, burned it, or tossed it across the street — where hogs roamed freely and pungent garbage regularly overflowed. If you were a farmer, you’d probably feed your trash to your goats, pigs, chicks, or dogs. Another option for disposal was to dump it in the ocean. 

In fact, New York City created a pier on the East River especially for throwing garbage in it.  Needless to say, life before trash bags was much different than it is today. 

Garbage sat stagnant in ditches where it attracted bugs and rodents, while raw sewage regularly contaminated drinking water and led to disease. Garbage was such a problem that West Virginia outlawed the hunting of vultures because these creatures were a natural waste management solution. 

The History of Trash Bags: Invention

Following WWII, Winnipeg inventor Harry Wasylyk was experimenting with a new waterproof, stretchy material called polyethylene. Wasylyk made the first plastic trash bag in his kitchen and supplied the bags to line the garbage cans at the Winnipeg General Hospital in 1950. 

He created this bag through a process called extrusion, which involved transforming tiny resin pellets into plastic bags. The pellets were heated and then pressurized to make them more pliable. Then this resin was blown into bags, which would be sealed at one end. 

The “Glad” History of Trash Bags

The original trash bags weren’t black — they were green and not intended for residential use. The bags were sold to Winnipeg General Hospital in an effort to prevent the proliferation of polio. Then Union Carbide Company purchased the trash bag idea. 

It wasn’t until the late 1960s when the first residential green trash bag was produced under the moniker “Glad” trash bags. The new creation quickly became a smashing success and found its way into several homes and businesses. 

Stringing Garbage Bags Along

In 1984, a drawstring invention was introduced that made it easier for people to carry full bags of trash. The first drawstrings were manufactured with high density plastics. These bags featured a robust closing mechanism and were very strong, but extremely expensive. Today, the drawstring addition is a common feature, and consumers are more likely to purchase these bags because of the convenience. 

Twist Ties

Glad further improved the residential trash bag by adding a twist tie, which was actually created back in 1923 by George Hinson. These twist ties are the same mechanisms that were used with bread bags.

Garbage Bags 

In 1997, a former hospital janitor discovered how a simple bag cinch could help prevent the trash bag from slipping inside of the can. Out of tying hundreds of knots in trash bags every day, the janitor knew how the right knot could lead to a much faster and more efficient way of utilizing garbage bags. The janitor developed a device that instinctively collected the additional trash bag on the exterior of the can and cinched it into place. 

Contact AAA Polymer for the Best Trash Bags

From the kitchen of the Winnipeg inventor Harry Wasylyk to virtually every building and home in the U.S., the history of trash bags affects us all. And whether you’re looking to save money on the best commercial trash bags, order the most reliable contractor-quality bags, or find can liners for any other purpose; AAA Polymer will meet your needs. 

Contact AAA Polymer today for a free trash bag usage audit.

About the Author

AAA Polymer, Inc. was founded in 1974, as a plastic resin and material trading company with an innovative vision to create a company to provide plastic recycling services for industrial/commercial businesses. If you have any questions, we're here for you. Just call us at 718.389.2498.

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