Choosing the Right Fabric for Your Custom Bags

Reusable Bags are a green and environmentally responsible alternative to disposable one-use plastic bags. Increased awareness around recycling — and legislation banning or levying fees on disposable plastic bags — have added to the demand for reusable bags. Here are some common questions we hear from our customers about the different materials used to make custom reusable bags.

What are the most common recycled fabrics used for reusable bags?

Polypropylene (PP) and recycled polyethylene terephthalate (RPET) are the most common recycled fabrics used for manufacturing reusable bags. However, non-woven PP bags are the most popular because they’re the most economical and inexpensive bags. You’ll find these in many large grocery stores, can be easily hand washed, and are 100% recycled as #5.

What are the differences between polypropylene and rPET?

Polypropylene (PP), is a thermoplastic polymer that can be made into a fabric from post-industrial recycled content. This fabric is one of the most popular due to its low cost and easy manufacturability that is also durable and cottony soft feel. RPET is a fabric made from plastic fibers such as from recycled plastic bottles that have been bonded together which also creates a soft texture.

According to the main difference is:

Polypropylene (PP) is a greener solution than PVC/PET/RPET because of its reduced emissions and is lighter than other materials. It is ideally suited for packaging or products that will be shipped a long distance or used multiple times.PP packaging is a little softer & lighter than PVC/PET/RPET but offers excellent durability and structural integrity.

Is there a specific recycled fabric that I should use for certain styles of reusable bags?

Not really, choosing a fabric for a customized reusable bag comes down to material preference — rPET typically has higher amounts of recycled content — and budget. Both materials can be printed all over the bags in full color and topped with a glossy or matte lamination. The outside of the finished products looks almost identical. Both materials are high performers when it comes to strength, durability, and recyclability.

Are there safety issues with the recycled plastics used in the bags?

No, there are no health or safety concerns with RPET or polypropylene materials. The plastics used to manufacture these materials are labeled as “Resin Code 1” which is a safe and widely used type of plastic. We regularly test our bags for lead content as well as many other factors to ensure the highest quality standards are used.

Which, if any, of these recycled plastic fabrics are made in the U.S.?

Most recycled plastic fabrics are manufactured in China. Many recycling facilities all over the world sell plastic to China for the purpose of turning it into fabric or other items. It is usually cost-prohibitive to purchase recycled plastic fabric created in the United States.

Are there recommended imprint methods for each recycled plastic fabric?

Again, not really. All materials, including non-woven RPET, woven and non-woven polypropylene, and even sustainable choices like jute and cotton can withstand screen printing, transfer printing, and 4-color process heat transfer methods with superior results.

Are there certain fabrics or imprint methods that are better suited for full-color reproduction?

If you’re looking for the best possible outcome for a bag with full-color graphics, we recommend either PP or rPET with lamination.

What makes a material sustainable and what sustainable fabrics are available?

Sustainable materials are woven from plant-based fibers. The fact that they can be planted, grown, harvested, and woven into a fabric again makes these materials sustainable. Our sustainable lineup includes cotton, jute, and bamboo fabrics.

Which are more expensive, reusable bags made from recycled materials or bags made from sustainable fabrics?

PP and rPET have low-budget price points. This makes them a fabulous marketing tool because the ROI is typically so high. Sustainable materials, such as cotton, jute, and bamboo normally are priced slightly higher and appeal to those that are going for a certain look and feel.

How do you choose the best-recycled material to use for your bags?

We can help answer any of your questions and help you figure out which is the best material based on your needs. All of the materials we offer are durable and feature their own unique green advantages. Since we’re the direct manufacturer of our bags, we can literally help you create something new from an original concept to completion.

We look forward to assisting you with an affordable, effective way to get noticed and remembered with your reusable bag.