Navigating the World of Bin Bags Bin bags come in an array of types, from size or volume, material, to colour. This isn’t arbitrary but is based on a system that can vary regionally. Primarily, the colours help to visually simplify waste separation: yellow bags for plastics, black bin bags for general waste, blue for larger rubbish or items like clothing. The colour serves more for organisational purposes, with volume and material being the more critical considerations.
Volume: A Guide to Bin Bag Usage Bin liners sizes vary widely. They can range from 10 litres, suitable for small paper bins on desks, to over 100 or even 200 litres for large collection bins. However, the terminology shifts based on size: bags up to 70 litres are typically referred to as ‘bin bags’, while anything larger is termed ‘rubbish sacks’. While bin bags are more common in households, rubbish sacks are more suitable for larger businesses. Therefore, volume gives an initial guide to which bin bag best suits a particular function.
They are available in various sizes, ensuring they fit bins with different dimensions. Still, it’s essential to note that volume doesn’t determine fit. Long but shallow bins can have the same volume as narrow and tall ones, yet a standard bin bag might only fit one type. Therefore, one should look at the specific dimensions in terms of height, width, depth, or diameter.
Material Matters Bin bags and sacks primarily comprise paper, plastic, or bioplastic. Both paper and bioplastic are biodegradable and decompose over time, serving as eco-friendly alternatives for short-term use. In contrast, conventional plastic bin bags are durable, sturdy, and flexible. Depending on their thickness, they can also be opaque and tear-resistant, making them ideal for longer-term storage and larger bins that take time to fill. Typically, Polyethylene (PE) is used in their manufacture. There are two main types: HDPE and LDPE.
HDPE stands for “High Density Polyethylene”. It’s characterized by its high density, smooth, hard surface, and is temperature-resistant. It’s easily identifiable by its crinkling sound when moved. Common everyday bin bags for standard bins are usually made from HDPE. In contrast, LDPE or “Low Density Polyethylene” has a lower density and is somewhat waxy and flexible, making it suitable for sharp-edged waste.
Another aspect, particularly for plastic bags, is the material’s thickness. It determines the bag’s tear-resistance and opacity. For heavy rubbish, it’s vital for the bag to be robust enough to handle transportation. The thickness is usually indicated in microns (µ or “mu”). It can start from as thin as 5 µ and go up to 80 µ or more. The standard thickness ranges between 45 and 60 µ – anything above is sturdier, anything below is softer.
Using Different Bin Bags The variability in size and material exists for a reason: different uses require different types of bags. While households typically need smaller versions, business settings often demand larger types. Restaurants, factories, offices, or hospitals produce more waste, hence larger volume bags make sense. In such settings, spacious bins are common, which are best lined with 100- or even 200-litre rubbish sacks for protection against dirt and odours.
As mentioned, paper or bioplastic bin bags are suitable for short-term use in frequently emptied bins, especially for organic waste in brown bins. For larger bins that take longer to fill, these might not be ideal. They might start decomposing before the bin is full, failing in their primary purpose of keeping the bin clean. PE bin bags are therefore more practical.
If you frequently deal with heavy rubbish, the material’s thickness plays a crucial role. Standard thicknesses around 50 µ are for regular use in washrooms, desks, canteens, and the like. But heavier waste might cause these to tear, necessitating stronger bin bags. Bags with higher thickness are robust and durable, suitable for industrial waste, for instance. Bags with a thickness of at least 60 µ can handle construction debris and similar waste.