Gauging Trash Bag Thickness: Mil vs Micron

Gauging Trash Bag Thickness: Mil vs Micron

By AAA Polymer | Can Liners

Mar 18

As a business owner, it can seem as if there are countless types of trash bags to choose from. No matter what trash bag you choose, it's important to have a clear understanding of the trash bag thickness, particularly mil vs micron. At AAA Polymer, we are trash bag and stretch film experts. 

In addition to offering a full range of different can liner and trash bag solutions, one of the key areas we focus our attention is on educating those we serve. As such, we've created a helpful guide to gauging trash bag thickness with a special focus on mil vs micron. Continue reading to learn more and don't hesitate to reach out to the team at AAA Polymer for a more tailored solution. 

Understanding Polyethylene Resins Used in Trash Bags

Each trash bag is made up of different types of polyethylene resin, which is the raw material used in the manufacturing process. In general, there are two general types of resins used to create can liners: 

Linear-Low-Density Polyethylene

Linear-low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) types of bags are a newer and improved iteration of LDPE. These bags are highly puncture-resistant and tear-resistant, which makes them suitable for applications where extra strength or stretch is required. LLDPE types of trash bags are perfect for multi-purpose applications. A few key highlights of LLDPE bags are: 

  • The most widely used kind of can liner used today
  • Offered in an array of colors
  • Multi-purpose applications
  • Maximum stretch and puncture resistance

High-Density Polyethylene

High-density polyethylene is much more temperature resistant, stronger, and offers excellent moisture protection. HDPE can liners are the premier choice for lightweight trash, bathrooms, and paper. However, HDPE can liners will tear easily if it's punctured. A few key benefits of HDPE trash bags include:

  • They can be less expensive and offer substantial cost savings per liner
  • Up to three times stronger and more durable than ordinary polyethylene liners of the same thickness.
  • These liners require 2/3 less petroleum-based raw material to create.
  • These can liners can reduce your warehousing, shipping, and storage costs.
  • Offers an extremely wide range of temperature resistance from -40 degrees F to +212 degrees F (boiling).

Understanding Can Liner Gauge & Thickness

The trash bag thickness or gauge will determine the strength, weight, and price of your bags. Ideal for heavier items, low-density bags will have a thicker gauge while providing more strength and heft. As an improvement to low-density bags, linear low-density bags offer the same level of strength and heft in a significantly thinner bag. 

On the other hand, high-density trash bags have a lower gauge, are lighter, and — when used properly — can lead to cost savings. However, it's important these bags are only used for light or moderately heavy contents that do not have jagged or sharp edges because these bags can puncture and tear easily. An example of a high-density bag would be the single-use plastic bags offered at grocery stores. 

What's the Difference Between Mil vs Micron?

While both mil vs micron are expressions of trash bag thickness, they are used for different products. 

Microns Are Used to Measure High-Density Trash Bags

The micron is used to measure the thickness of high-density trash bags. Measuring at one-thousandth of a millimeter or .001, high-density trash bags can range anywhere from 6 up to 17 microns in thickness. For perspective, a standard piece of paper is around 100 microns thick.

  • Use higher microns for heavier trash
  • Use lower microns for lighter trash

Mils Are Used to Measure Low-Density Trash Bags

While microns are one-thousandth of a millimeter, a mil is one-thousandth of an inch or .001 of an inch. Mils are used to measure the thickness of low-density can liners, which can span anywhere from .7 mils to 4.0 mils. As a point of reference, the standard kitchen bag is around .9 mil while heavy-duty contractor-grade trash bags will usually start out at 3.0 mil. 

  • Use higher mil count for heavier, larger, and more jagged trash.
  • Use a lower mil count for smaller, lighter trash.

Can You Convert Mils to Microns and Microns to Mils?

For whatever reason, if you need to convert one measure to the other, there are relatively simple formulas:

  • Mils to Microns Formula: Multiply 25.4 by the number of mils to arrive at a thickness in microns.
  • Microns to Mils Formula: Divide the number of microns by 25.4 to arrive at a thickness in mils.

Why Is Getting Mil vs Micron & Trash Bag Thickness Right Important? 

In the end, getting trash bag thickness right is key. If you're using bags that are too thick for the application, you are essentially throwing money away with the trash. This common problem can be found across all sectors when businesses look to use one trash bag for all receptacles. 

For example, if you're using more expensive low-density trash bags on bathroom trash, you're using the wrong bag. On the other hand, if you use can liners that are too thin for the application, it can lead to spills that take time to clean up and can cause hazards. Simply put, it makes dollars and sense to get trash bag thickness right. And the team at AAA Polymer can help. 

Contact AAA Polymer to Choose the Best Trash Bag Thickness

As experts in trash bags and can liners, the team at AAA Polymer will conduct a free can liner audit to understand your unique needs. Then we can suggest the best trash bag for the application to create savings along the way. Best of all, we make the process as easy and hassle-free as possible!

Contact AAA Polymer today for a free can liner or trash bag 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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