The Rise and Fall Of The Plastic Bag: What It Means For Your Company

25 Jan The Rise and Fall Of The Plastic Bag: What It Means For Your Company

“Paper or plastic?” has long been a phrase Americans have heard when shopping for groceries. Plastic quickly became a fan favorite as adults everywhere realized they could hang dozens from their arms to make the trek inside with all of their groceries at once. The average American uses hundreds of these bags in a calendar year, resulting in an industry that sees over a 100 billion of their products used annually. In recent years, however, the love affair of the American people with plastic bags has begun to sour, leaving a potential gold mine of marketing strategy behind for businesses everywhere.

The Rise of the Plastic Bag

Polyethylene, the base plastic used in the common grocery bag, was created the late 1800s butdid not find its way into stores until the 60s. The Swedish company Celloplast obtained a patent  for the T-shirt plastic bag — a style of bag with handles — in the mid-60s, followed by Mobile Chemical’s jump onto the scene. Plastic bags were finally introduced as options at grocery store checkout lanes in 1979, although they had yet to pick up steam. By 1985, the cost was pointed out to be lower than their paper counterparts, spring boarding a drastic increase in the number of major store chains that offered them. As the bag was touted to be versatile in use and offered extreme ease of handling, the plastic option soared in numbers and secured a solid 80 percent of the grocery bag market throughout the next 10 years.

Risks of Plastic Bags

Unfortunately, despite the fact that plastic bags can be reused as lunch bags, trash liners and pet waste collectors, the staggering number of bags that are used daily has become a serious issue. Landfills all over the nation are being stuffed with discarded remnants, with the litter waste outside of the landfillbecoming as much of a problem. The lightweight nature of the material often leads to bags being blown away from trash bins and landing in trees or in ditches, clogging drains. The bags have also resulted in serious repercussions in lakes and oceans with many bags wrapping around marine life, as well as being ingested and resulting in blockages and suffocation in everything from whales to dolphins to sea turtles. The bags do not easily decompose, and can take decades and even centuries to finally break down. Unfortunately, even when decomposition does take place, the result is a release of toxins into the environment, contaminating soils and waterways.

Recycling efforts have gotten underway in recent years with many companies pushing for reuse and recycling, but that has done little to ease the impact of the bags on the environment due to the sheer number being used.

Promoting Your Company With Alternative Options

Due to the detrimental of facts of plastic that bags on the environment, many cities and even states — California being one— have completely banned the use of plastic bags at grocery store checkout lanes. This, along with general awareness, has resulted in alternative options becoming more popular. Increasing numbers of consumers are bringing reusable bags to the store with them to reduce their own eco impact.

This shift in the bag industry opens up a whole realm of potential marketing opportunities for your company and the chance to be associated with the “go green” movement. Integrate reusable bags into your marketing budget and give them to your clients and potential clients. This allows your brand to not only be in front of the person using the bag on regular basis, but to also be seen by everyone with whom they come into contact. It takes upwards of a dozen times for a logo and colors to be associated with a specific brand, so the fact that a canvas bag can be used on a regular basis works in your favor. It allows for familiarity with your logo, services and contact information, so be sure to have all of that information clearly stated in an easy-to-read manner.

Offering an environmentally friendly canvas bag also relays the message that your brand is eco-conscious. That fact that has been shown to strongly impact potential consumers, with over 50 percent saying they are more likely to pay more for the service of a socially conscious company over a competitor. Do you have a trade show coming up? Few things bring people into your booth like the promise of free stuff. Offer bags to passersby to bring people in for conversation, and then remain in their presence long after they have left. Studies show that potential consumers are more likely to use companies that are listed on promotional products that they have received when a need for that particular service arises. Include canvas bags as client gifts at every opportunity and in holiday baskets. Make the bags readily accessible to your own employees, as well, to increase visibility of your brand.

Keep in mind that the quality of the bag you offer will say plenty about your company, as well as dictate the length of time it is used. Choose a quality product that provides longevity, allowing your information to be viewed for years to come and your brand to be continually associated with a positive message.

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