Sales of paper for shopping bags increases 400% in three years

Surprising new figures from packaging giant DS Smith have shown increased sales in paper for use in paper bags as retailers adapt to new attitudes towards single-use plastic.


Last year alone, DS Smith’s Kemsley Paper Mill – the largest paper recycling mill in the UK – supplied enough paper to make around 400 million bags used by major retailers and food takeaway chains. Furthermore, DS Smith continues to see considerable growth from customers, with bag manufacturers requiring year on year increases in recycled paper to manufacture bags, with orders increasing by 400% over the past three years.

In addition, DS Smith’s e-commerce packaging site, ePack, has seen an increase of 262% increase in orders of recyclable paper bags in the three months prior to Black Friday.

Ben Jennings, General Manager at DS Smith Paper Mill in Kemsley commented: “Over the past three years, we have seen significant interest in sustainable solutions to a variety of packaging challenges, including the shopping bag. Across our network our paper contains over 80% recycled content and across the supply chain, from punnets to bags, we are working with customers to find solutions to remove single-use plastics.”

According to recent studies, the global market for paper bags is booming and is expected to demonstrate further significant growth between now and 2023. Paper bags require fewer reuses than bags for life to make them more environmentally friendly and have the benefit of being widely recyclable once they reach their end of life.

But the key to reducing the impact of all carrier bags, irrespective of what they are made of, is to reuse them as much as possible. It is the buying and disposing of a bag after single use that will have a bigger environmental impact than choosing to buy a paper, plastic or cotton bag.