Paper bag

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For other uses, see Paper bag (disambiguation).
Examples of paper bags


If logs are used a starting material, debarked logs are sent to dry in a mill for three or so years. After they are dried, they are exposed to chemicals, heat, and pressure to make oatmeal-like pulp. If the manufacturers are using recycled paper, the recycled paper is made directly into pulp. After the pulp is made, it is formed, cut, glued, packaged, and then sent to the receiver.


There are also three credited inventors for the paper bag, Margaret E. Knight, Francis Wolle, and Luther Childs Crowell.

Francis Wolle in 1852 patented a machine to make the square bottomed paper bags and founded the Union Paper Bag Company, which remains an industry leader. Wolle was the son of John Frederick Wolle, a prominent Moravian bishop in the Bethlehem/Nazareth area. Augustus Wolle, brother to Francis, ran a hardware store and financed the company that became Bethlehem Steel. The family remains prominent through endowment of Lehigh University and a world-renowned Bach Choir, both of which the family founded.[1]

Margaret E. Knight, touted by feminists as the mother of paper bags, was working at a paper bag factory at the time of her invention, in 1871.

Luther Childs Crowell obtained a patent for the square bottomed paper bag. Luther acknowledged Knight as the true inventor, but declared that he had rights to make and sell the bag. He filed almost 300 patents.

Single layer[edit]

Two small paper bags. Bottom: flat gusseted bag. Top: Square bottom, self-opening.

Paper shopping bags, brown paper bags, grocery bags, paper bread bags and other light duty bags have a single layer of paper. A variety of constructions and designs are available. Many are printed with the names of stores and brands. Paper bags are not waterproof. Types of paper bag are: laminated, twisted, flat tap. The laminated bag, whilst not totally waterproof, has a laminate that protects the outside to some degree.

Multiwall paper sacks[edit]

Valve bag containing cement

Multiwall (or multi-wall) paper sacks or shipping sacks are often used as shipping containers for bulk materials such as fertilizer, animal feed, sand, dry chemicals, flour and cement. Many have several layers of sack papers, printed external layer and inner plies. Some paper sacks have a plastic film, foil, or polyethylene coated paper layer in between as a water-repellant, insect resistant, or rodent barrier.

There are two basic designs of bags: open mouth bags and valve bags. An open mouth bag is a tube of paper plies with the bottom end sealed. The bag is filled though the open mouth and then closed by stitching, adhesive, or tape. Valve sacks have both ends closed and are filled through a valve. A typical example of a valve bag is the cement sack.


Paper bags are readily recyclable. Plastic or water-resistant coatings or layers make recycling more difficult.[citation needed]


The first paper bag machine was patented by Francis Wolle in 1852.[2][3] Margaret E. Knight (1838-1914) was an employee in a paper bag factory when she invented a new machine part to make square bottoms for paper bags. Knight can be considered the mother of the grocery bag; she founded the Eastern Paper Bag Company in 1870. On 20 February 1872, Luther Crowell also patented a machine that manufactured paper bags.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wolle Family Papers
  2. ^ "Paper bag history". Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Patent US9355". Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  4. ^ Petroski, Henry (2004). Small things considered. New York: Vintage. p. 106. ISBN 1-4000-3293-8.