Baggies are sacs or pouches made of thin and most often flexible polymer materials commonly generalized as plastics. The name "Baggies" actually is a registered trademark for a specific brand name of the bags, though over the years the term baggie has been loosely applied to encompass all small plastic storage sacks which are commonly used in a number of applications to hold variable goods and items.
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Application of Baggies
Baggie usage extends to food preparation, storage, electronics, automotive, pharmaceutical, packing and shipping, retail and a plethora of other industries, all who use them in daily operations to maintain organizational standards as well as protect small parts from environmental factors such as moisture or chemical contamination. Medical bags are commonly used to this extent and to promote sterilization of instruments, equipment, bedding and garments in hospitals and laboratory facilities.
Perhaps the most common use of baggies, however, is in the consumer household where they fulfill many of the same roles including storage and food preparation. Often described as small plastic bags as common sizing includes one quart and one gallon, petite sizing is not a prerequisite for baggies which are also available in industrial sizes. No matter the size, baggies can easily be suited to any application as the color, size, shape and style is highly variable and additional options such as protective treatments and printing allow manufacturers to customize products as needed.
Design of Baggies
Baggies are created for many different purposes and as such are necessarily diverse in material and physical construction. Plastic is a generalized term used synonymously with polymer. These materials used to create baggies consist of a long chain of repeating monomers held together by chemically formed covalent bonds. Natural, synthetic or organic, polymers are a broad grouping of diversified materials derived from resin processing. Baggie manufacturers may produce polymers such as polyethylene and polypropylene on-site or purchase prefabricated materials as facilities will allow.
Although casting, winding, and sheet extrusion are commonly used to produce plastic film, blown film extrusion is the most popular method for producing plastic bags and baggies. In this process polymer resins are melted into a viscous fluid before being extruded or pushed through a die. A stream of cool air flows through the middle of the die creating a tube of expanding plastic. A uniform airflow ensures that the walls of the tube, and thus the bags are of even thickness. When the necessary length and thickness are achieved the bubble is burst and the bag collapses for further processing such as curing or printing. Secondary processes such as heat-sealing, shrink-wrapping and stitching are also commonly used to produce seams and seals along the edges of a baggie in order to improve its potential for containment.
Advantages of Baggies
The recent trend has been to eliminate all kinds of plastic and paper bags from the commercial industry. Some states and counties ban these bags altogether and demand customers use cloth bags. Others charge for the luxury of using plastic baggies.
Despite these regulations, paper and plastic bags have a surprising use that make consumers and even manufacturing companies unaware of. There is one surprising industry that is suffering from the lack of paper and plastic bags- the recycling industry!
Recycled paper and plastic is used to manufacture many new plastic and paper products. In fact, a large percentage of plastic manufacturing companies depend on plastic bags to use as a base for their new plastic products. About 77 percent of paper mills use recycled bags to manufacture new paper. By eliminating these bags, the recycling industry suffers, and so does the manufacturing industry. Cutting out the use of plastic bags is actually cutting into a viable market. This is reducing jobs, driving prices higher, and making plastic less easy to get.
In fact, by recycling plastic bags, you can save over 79 gallons of oil, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, and 75 million Btus of material, according to the EPA.
So the next time you think about eliminating the use of paper and plastic bags, consider whether the impact on the environment is really lessening. In many cases, you are actually increasing the load on the environment by not using plastic bags and other plastic products.