The Invention Of The Plastic Bin Bag

One of the images most connected to domestic rubbish clearance is the black bin bag, which is typically used to safely and hygienically store non-recyclable waste where it can be safely disposed of.

What is quite interesting is that before the invention of the bin bag, litter was thrown straight into the bin, often taking the form of ash and dust, leading to the nickname of ‘dustmen’ for people who work in waste disposal.

The bin bag initially emerged as part of a post-war experiment into polyethene, which whilst one of the most used plastics in the world today was a somewhat more novel material back in the days of bakelite.

The origin of the bin bag as we know it came from Harry Wasylyk, an inventor from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, as he found a way to produce thin polyethene bags that could be used and then disposed of.

Initially, they were designed to be used commercially, with Winnipeg General Hospital being the first business to line their bins with these new, green plastic bags that he had made in his kitchen.

As hospitals often deal with medical and unhygienic waste, and having a way to safely dispose of this reduces the risk of contamination and causing harm, this partnership was a logical and successful one.

Not long after this, the kitchen-based operation moved to a plant to build his bags at scale. Not long after this, Larry Hansen of Union Carbide in Ontario started to make bin bags of his own for internal use, before the latter noticed and quickly bought Mr Wasylyk’s business.

The leftover resin at their Montréal polyethene plant was perfect for these new bags and so the move was largely successful. Finally, Frank Plomp, based in Toronto, also created plastic bin bags for offices and hospitals in the area, leading to three Canadian inventors all having the same idea at the same time.

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