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Bin liners

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Bin liners and bin bags are disposable bags, usually made of polythene, used to line the inside of a dustbin or waste container and collect all of the rubbish placed inside the bin. Once full, simply remove the bin liner from the bin, tie the ends together and transfer the full bin liner from the bin to a wheelie bin or directly to a waste collection. By lining the inside of the bin, bin liners ensure that the walls of the bin itself remain free from mess, stains and sticky residue.

Types of bin liner

Bin liners are used for bins of all shapes and sizes, from mini pedal bins commonly found in bathrooms to larger flip-top bins often used in kitchens, to even large wheelie bins themselves.

The most common colour for small bin liners is white, while bin liners for larger dustbins generally come in black. However, there are a full range of colours available, which can be very helpful for people looking to separate their waste into different coloured bags for their local rubbish collection (see below).

Bin liners are usually sold in rolls of 50 or 100.

Bin bags

When is a bin liner not a bin liner? When it’s a bin bag.

Bin bags are, by and large, the same thing as a large bin liner. They are a lightweight, usually black in colour, made of polythene and used to collect and dispose of waste.

Traditionally large black bin bags would have been used to line the inside of a large, round dustbin, hence the term bin liner. Whilst the world of bin liners has moved on - with custom-sized bin liners designed to fit all shapes and sizes of bin - the traditional black bin bag is still the default rubbish bag for families everywhere.

When not lining bins, bin bags can be used in a number of ways, such as tied to a doorknob or sitting loosely on the floor. The latter method allows for more rubbish to be collected within the bin liner, but it poses the risk of leakage if the bin bag rips or tears, so you always need to be careful not to overfill a free-standing bin bag.

History of the bin liner

The polythene bin liner - or garbage bag as it is referred to in the United States - was invented in 1950 by Harry Wasylyk, a Canadian inventor for Winnipeg, Manitoba. Together with colleague Larry Hansen of Lindsay, Ontario, he invented the disposable polyethylene garbage bag, originally green in colour.

First sold to the Winnipeg General Hospital, the original bin liners were originally designed for commercial use rather than use at home. However, sensing their potential for wider use, the Union Carbide Company in Lindsay bought the invention from Wasylyk and Hansen and began manufacturing the first green garbage bags for home use. The bags went on sale under the name Glad Garbage in the late 1960s.

Coloured bin bags

The world of waste - or garbage - disposal has moved on somewhat since the bin bag was first used in the 1950s. With the advent of recycling in recent decades, we are now able to dispose of different types of waste separately, so that different materials can be recycled and reused, where possible.

Polythene waste disposal bags are now manufactured in a variety of colours to cater for different types of waste, such as general recycling or specific types of recycling - including plastics, glass, paper and cardboard, food waste, aluminium or tin cans - along with garden waste and more specialist waste, including hazardous or clinical waste.

Bags used for separating these different types of waste or recycling are available in various colours, but the most commonly used are blue, green, silver/grey, brown, white, yellow, red and, of course, the old classic bin bag colour - black.

Coloured bin bags - common uses

The most common matches of waste to bag colour include:

  • Black - general waste
  • Green - glass (or garden waste)
  • Blue - plastics
  • Silver/grey - aluminium
  • White - paper
  • Brown - food waste
  • Red - asbestos
  • Yellow - clinical waste

Although these are common uses, the colour coding of bags will certainly vary from place to place, so please treat this as an example list and not the gospel.

It is always recommended that you check your bag or bin colour coding scheme with your local waste disposal team (e.g. local council) or employer.

Where can I buy bin liners?

Manufacturers and suppliers of bin liners include:

Discount Rubbish Bags
Online retailer of rubbish bags, bin liners and specialist waste sacks. Also offering recycled sacks and biodegradable liners. Order online and receive with free UK delivery.

Discount Bin Bags
Discount Bin Bags is a website dedicated to find the best discount suppliers and manufacturers of rubbish bags, waste sacks and specialist waste liners.

Discount Bin Liners
A very useful resource on bin liners, including details of the best places to source them at great prices. Provides useful information on biodegradable bin liners and degradable bin liners, plus bags for wheelie bins, clinical and hazardous waste bags and other waste sacks.

Great website for anyone looking to buy bin liners or bin bags. Provides a list of the best manufacturers and suppliers of bin liners and other waste sacks, plus some fantastic resources of eco-friendly bin bags to help reduce your carbon footprint.

If you want to purchase or find out about bin bags, visit today. They provide a list of retailers offering traditional and eco-friendly bin bags and waste sacks at competitive prices, with product details to help you decide on the best type of bin bag for you.

Research & Resources

For more detailed information about bin liners, from the start of their production process to how to recycle them, including details of the different types of bin liners available, please visit:

Goldstork: Browse through hand-picked information and websites specialising in bin liners on this free "best of the web" directory. Free web directory specialising in all types of plastic packaging, where you can post your product listings for free or browse for useful bin liners websites.

PackagingKnowledge: In-depth resource of news and information about the flexible plastic packaging industry including this article on bin liners.

Eco-friendly bin liners

As we become more aware of the dangers posed to the environment by the consumption and use of materials that is a product of modern life, manufacturers have developed a whole raft of products that help lessen our impact on the environment.

One such product - or more specifically one such type of product - to receive this treatment is the bin liner. Some bin liners have been developed from biodegradable or Polybio materials to improve their green credentials, by decomposing faster than polythene when buried underground, such as in landfill sites.

Other green bin liners include starch-based products that are ideal for disposing of kitchen waste -e.g. food waste - and garden waste in an environmentally-friendly fashion.

These Polybio products, which are made from potato starch, disintegrate completely in less than three months (10-12 weeks) of being in standard composting conditions.

They leave no harmful trace behind, turning into carbon dioxide, water and biomass, which makes them 100 percent renewable and 100 percent sustainable.