What Material Are Paper Bags Made Of?

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When considering eco-friendly packaging solutions, many businesses turn to paper bags. Knowing the materials used in paper bags can influence customers’ buying decisions and your brand loyalty. But what material are paper bags made of?

Paper bags are primarily made from wood pulp, processed into different types of paper. Wood pulp comes from softwood trees and is separated into fibers to make paper through mechanical or chemical pulping processes. The paper is then cut, printed, and folded into paper bags.

The materials you choose for your product packaging can have a huge impact on your brand image and consumer trust. In this article, we will talk about the different types of paper used, what they’re like, and how they contribute to the eco-friendliness of the final product. Keep reading to learn how the materials you choose for your paper bags can impact your brand and the environment.

6 types of materials used for paper bags

Paper bags can be made from a variety of materials, each selected for its specific qualities like texture, weight, and durability. The most commonly 6 used materials include:

MaterialsCompositionFeatures Uses
Kraft Paperunbleached wood fibersHighly durable, good tear resistance, biodegradableshopping bags, grocery bags, and heavy-duty packaging
White Cardboard Paperthicker than regular paperexcellent rigidity, superior durabilityhigh-end retail bags, promotional packaging
Recycled Paperpost-consumer or post-industrial waste papervarious textures and colorsenvironmentally conscious applications
Corrugated Papera fluted corrugated sheet sandwiched between two flat linerboardsprovides added strength and cushioning, recycledprotective packaging, heavier items
Coated Paperkraft or recycled paper coated with a layer of clay or polymerenhanced smoothness, print quality, and resistance to elementsfood packaging and high-end retail bags
Specialty Paperpapers with special treatments or propertiesunique tactile qualities or visual effectsboutique bags, luxury packaging or waterproof packaging

Kraft Paper

Kraft paper is strong and durable. It’s made using the Kraft process, which chemically converts wood into wood pulps with long, strong fibers. This process helps maintain the paper’s natural strength, making it resistant to tearing.

You’re probably familiar with the typical brown color of unbleached kraft paper, but it can also be bleached to give it a whiter appearance for more style options. It’s a popular choice for eco-friendly packaging because it’s both recyclable and biodegradable.

Kraft Paper

Recycled Paper

Recycled paper is made from post-consumer and post-industrial waste paper, which makes paper products more sustainable. While it may vary slightly in color and texture because of the mixed sources of the recycled content, it’s a great choice for brands that want to be environmentally responsible.

Recycled paper is commonly used in all sorts of bags and packaging products, helping companies reduce their environmental footprint.

White Cardboard Paper

White cardboard paper is thicker and sturdier than many other types of paper. It provides an excellent surface for high-quality printing, making it ideal for promotional and retail bags where you want to have a strong visual impact.

This type of paper has a high degree of smoothness and uniformity. It’s especially popular in the fashion and luxury sectors where both appearance and functionality are important.

White Cardboard Paper

Corrugated Paper

Corrugated paper is made up of a fluted corrugated sheet sandwiched between two flat linerboards, which makes it much stronger and provides cushioning properties. This type of paper isn’t typically used for regular shopping bags, but it’s great for heavier or more delicate items that need extra protection.

Corrugated bags are also recyclable and can be made from recycled materials, so they’re eco-friendly too.

Coated Paper

Coated paper usually involves adding a layer of polymer or clay to the surface of kraft or recycled paper, which improves its texture, strength, and printing capabilities.

The coating allows for sharper, more vibrant images and can also provide barriers against moisture and grease, so it’s suitable for food packaging and high-end retail bags. Coated papers are versatile and add extra functionality and visual appeal to paper bags.

Coated Paper

Specialty Paper

Specialty papers cover a wide range of paper types that have specific properties or finishes. These can include paper treated to be stronger, more water-resistant, or have unique textures like metallic or pearlescent finishes.

Specialty papers are often used for luxury packaging, gift bags, or when you want to create a unique look. They give your brand the chance to stand out with innovative and customized packaging solutions.

Are Paper Bags Really Eco-Friendly?

Are Paper Bags Really Eco Friendly 1

The eco-friendliness of paper bags depends on a few factors, including the materials used and the manufacturing process. Bags made from recycled paper or certified sustainably sourced wood fibers have a lower environmental impact than those made from virgin materials.

Paper bags have a mixed reputation when it comes to their environmental impact. On the positive side, they’re biodegradable, recyclable, and made from renewable wood. Many paper bags are also FSC certified, which means the wood used to make them come from sustainably managed forests. However, producing them requires a lot of resources, including water and energy, and they contribute to deforestation if not sourced responsibly.

What Are Reusable Paper Bags Made Of?

Reusable paper bags are typically made from heavier, more durable materials like thick kraft paper. They may also have reinforced handles and bases to make sure they can handle being used multiple times. Some reusable bags are treated with laminates or coatings to help them last longer, but this can affect their recyclability.

Are Paper Grocery Bags Better Than Plastic?

Are Paper Grocery Bags Better Than Plastic

Paper grocery bags are considered a more sustainable option than plastic bags for these three reasons:

  • Biodegradability: Paper breaks down much faster and more safely in the environment compared to plastic.
  • Recyclability: Paper bags can be recycled more easily and more times than plastic bags. Plastic bags are often contaminated with food or other waste.
  • Renewability: Paper is made from wood, a renewable resource, especially when sourced from sustainably managed forests.


The choice of material for paper bags is critical. By choosing the right paper material, you can improve your brand image, appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, and meet sustainability regulations.

At Lipack Packaging, we recognize the importance of sustainable, high-quality packaging solutions. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, we specialize in providing custom paper bag and box packaging solutions that meet your specific needs.

Partner with us to make your packaging as impressive as the products inside it. Contact us today to find your perfect packaging solution!

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