Plastic Bags

Choosing the right plastic bag for your needs can be a difficult proposition considering all of the decisions that are made when selecting a plastic bag. That is why the company has created this guide and related cheat sheet for you so that you can make an informed decision when purchasing plastic bags. The following are the three major decisions that are made when purchasing a plastic bag:

  • Choosing the material the plastic bag is made from
  • Choosing the gauge (thickness) of the bag
  • Choosing the dimensions of the bag (Width X Length)

Knowing what specifications are right for your needs will help you select the most affordable product that meets those needs.

Plastic Bag Buying Guide


Plastic bags are made out of different types of plastics. Each type of plastic has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the right material for your plastic bags means choosing the type of plastic that has the strengths that align with your specific needs. The following is a comparison of the different types of polyethylene used in plastic bags:

Material Strengths Weakness
Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) - Bags made with LDPE are excellent yard bags or outdoor bags as LDPE bags do not run (tear) when punctured

- Can be made in gauges higher than a mil (1/1000 inch)

- LDPE has a glossy appearance
- Higher cost as more material is used when compared to high density polyethylene (HDPE)

- Higher freight and storage costs when compared to HDPE
Linear Low Density (LLDPE) - Bags made with LLDPE are strong bags that are resistant to punctures or runs (tears)

- Lower freight and storage costs when compared to LDPE bags
-Bags made with LLDPE tend to be sticky which makes them harder to open and use

- LLDPE has too much stretch when compared to other types of polyethylene
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) -Bags made with HDPE are strong at lower gauges then LDPE

HDPE has the lowest cost per bag as less material is used

-Lower freight and storage costs when compared to LDPE

-Bags made with HDPE are good storage and indoor bags
- Bags made with HDPE tend to run (tear) more when punctured when compared to LDPE bags

- Bags made with HDPE are lighter and tend to float as they do not displace the air around them making them harder to use
Ultrablend (Proprietary blend of different types of polyethylene) - Bags made with ultrablend have the strength of HDPE, the flexibility of LLDPE, and the ease of use of LDPE - Ultrablend costs more than HDPE

Gauge (Thickness)

The gauge of a plastic bag is measured either in microns or mils. The relationship between microns, mils, and inches is as follows: 25.4 microns = 1 mil = 1/1000 inch. HDPE bags are usually measured in microns as HDPE bags are usually thinner bags and LDPE and LLDPE bags are usually measured in mils as they are usually thicker bags. HDPE bags are not usually manufactured with gauges over one mil because HDPE bags become much more brittle when they are one mil or thicker. If you need a plastic bag that is thicker than one mil you should use LDPE or LLDPE as the material for the plastic bag.

Bag Width

The width of the bag should be one half the circumference of the container. The circumference of a circle can be calculated by using the following formula: Diameter*3.14. Note that most square/rectangular trash containers have rounded corners which reduce the width required.

Bag Length

The length of the bag should be the height of the container plus one half the diameter of the circle or diagonal of the rectangle plus five inches for overhang.

Bag Styles

For a listing of plastic bag styles, click here. Please note that we might not have all bag styles in stock. For more information about bags sold by Island Plastic Bags, Inc., contact us.

Cheat Sheet

Below is a list of standard sizes of plastic bags, the capacity of the plastic bags, and trash containers the plastic bags are known to fit in. Note that the material used to make the bag, the size of the container, and the shape of the container could affect whether or not the plastic bag actually fits in the trash container. Use this cheat sheet only as an estimate of the dimensions of the plastic bag you will need for a given container.

Standard Sizes Capacity Rubbermaid Container #
17x17   17x18 4 gal 2952
24x24 10 gal 2955   2956   6142
34x30   24x33 13-16 gal 2610   2947   2957   6177
30x36   30x37 30 gal 2620   3568
33x39   33x40 33 gal 2632   3520   3569   3541
3966   3967   6145   6146
7822   7823   8170   8180
8182   8185
33x44 36 gal 2634   3540
36x50   37x50
50-55 gal 2641   2643
40x48 45 gal 3958   3959
43x48 54 gal 3526   3970   3971   3975
3976   3977   8430   8432
8440   8442   8450   265B
2655   3536   3557   3559