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Light, practical, controversial: Ceresana analyzed the European market for bags and sacks

Products made from plastic are currently in the spotlight of the European public’s attention. Especially the thoughtless and excessive use of single-use bags has received a lot of criticism. The European Union stipulates to further restrict the use of plastic carrier bags until 2025. In the public debate, however, products, numbers, and facts are often confused and important contributing factors are sometimes ignored entirely. The latest, third study on this subject by Ceresana therefore aims to make a contribution towards the objectification of this discussion. The report analyzes the entire European market for bags and sacks made from polyethylene film, films made from other plastics, woven plastic bags, and paper bags. Polyethylene is by far the most widely used material. However, the various materials may account for highly different market shares in individual applications.

Bags optimize food packaging

Bag packaging is increasingly popular in retail trade. It replaces, for example, metal cans, glass containers, or rigid plastic packaging. One of the advantages of flexible plastic bags is their superior capability to adjust to the packaged good, thereby optimizing the size of the packaging. Additionally, this form of packaging can also be produced in a microwave-compatible form and is increasingly easy to print on. Compared to the previous study, this current, more detailed analysis by Ceresana also splits the application area of food packaging into individual sub-segments.

Heavy duty sacks compete with containers

Heavy duty and industry sacks have gained importance in recent decades. In some segments, sacks made of plastic have replaced paper sacks entirely. Although paper sacks continue to play an important role in the segment of animal feed or building materials like cement, polyethylene sacks have the potential to gain further market shares in the future due to their positive properties. Yet, conventional heavy duty sacks made of plastic film are competing more and more with so called “flexible intermediate bulk containers” (FIBC), especially in the bulk goods segment. These FIBC consist of a sturdy plastic weave – most often made of polypropylene – and can achieve a capacity of up to 1500 liters. They are often used as transport packaging for construction materials, fertilizers, grains, or other bulk goods. The market dynamics for heavy duty sacks is highly dependent on the economic development of a country, particularly the construction industry and the demand for construction materials.

Bioplastics as an ambivalent alternative

Plastic products, especially thin single-use bags made of polyethylene, are subject to special taxes, fees or restrictions in more and more countries. Bioplastics that are either made from renewable materials (e.g. corn starch) or are at least biodegradable are often an exception to these regulations. The significance and public image of these bioplastics has considerably improved in recent years. This is also evident from the fact that these products are now taken into consideration by legislators. In the spring of 2019, the EU commission most recently commented positively on the potential of bioplastics in the field of packaging and carrier bags. However, even if this market is developing very dynamically, bioplastics alone are not the ultimate and ecologically immaculate solution that has long been propagated. There are, for example, still issues with the composting of some types of bioplastic in standard facilities. If biodegradable plastic disintegrates in open nature, the dispersion of micro particles could even increase.

The Study in Brief:

Chapter 1 provides an overview of the European Market for bags and sacks, including forecasts until 2026. Data on production and demand volumes as well as on the individual material types and application areas are listed in tables and figures.
Chapter 2 analyzes production, demand, as well as import and export for 28 individual countries. Additionally, detailed information is given on the demand for bags and sacks split by application areas for the eight most important European countries (Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, and Turkey). The production of bags for these countries is furthermore split by materials (LDPE, LLDPE, HDPE, other plastics, woven plastics, and paper). The applications are separately analyzed for plastic and paper: Carrier bags, garbage bags and sacks, heavy duty and industry sacks, packaging for different kinds of food and other applications.
Chapter 3 provides useful profiles of the largest bags and sacks manufacturers, clearly arranged according to contact details, turnover, profit, product range, production sites, profile summary, product types, and application areas. Extensive profiles of 93 manufacturers are provided.

Further information:

About Ceresana
As one of the world’s leading market research companies, Ceresana is specialized in the plastics, chemicals, packaging, and industrial goods sectors. Since 2002, companies have benefited from high-quality industry analyses and forecasts. More than 180 market reports provide over 10,000 customers with the knowledge base for their sustainable success.
Learn more about Ceresana at

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