A common chore in any home, apartment, or business is taking out the trash.
Even if you recycle, you’re always in need of some sort of garbage bag.
Garbage bags are helpful in that they store your trash and allow you to easily carry it out to a trash bin.
However, buying more garbage bags often comes at an expensive price.
Considering how simple they are, you may wonder what makes garbage bags so expensive.
Why Are Garbage Bags So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price of garbage bags is between $30 and $40 with some bags costing as much as $70.
Garbage bags are expensive because of the various features and capabilities they possess, the high price of gas, and their brand name.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Scented Garbage Bags
Some of the most expensive garbage bags come with an added scent.
Some companies partner with Febreze while others create their own scents and infuse them into their bags.
Scented bags are more expensive for a few reasons.
The first is that it costs the company a bit more money to produce scented garbage bags.
They need to first design and experiment with different aromas.
Then they need to test those aromas to determine if people enjoy them, if they’re too strong, or if they make trash odors even worse.
Since the production costs of scented garbage bags are higher, the company needs to offset those costs with higher prices.
Along with higher production costs, scented garbage bags are expensive because they provide a service.
They help cover the unpleasant odor of trash.
They can make your kitchen or bathroom smell cleaner.
Since that provides an additional benefit to people, some are willing to pay more to receive that benefit.
That also reinforces the high price that the company places on the product.
Garbage bags are expensive because scented garbage bags have higher production costs and serve a specific purpose for certain people.
2. High Gas Prices
The plastic used to make garbage bags comes from petroleum and natural gas.
In particular, the plastic used is low-density polyethylene.
LDPE is a popular plastic used in many different products.
It has particular properties useful for garbage bags in that it’s a stretchy material that is also waterproof.
The problem with LDPE plastic is that it comes from petroleum and natural gas.
These are both linked to the price of oil.
When the price of oil is high, all by-products and derivatives of oil are also high.
It impacts the price of petroleum, for example.
When gas prices are high, then manufacturers face higher prices.
They have to spend more to source the petroleum they need to make their LDPE plastic garbage bags.
The same goes if they’re using natural gas to make them.
Because their costs are higher, they need to sell at higher prices to break even and make a profit.
Garbage bags are expensive because the cost of producing them is high when gas, or oil, prices are high.
3. Waterproof Capability
Since LDPE is waterproof, it means that garbage bags are waterproof, too.
Some companies take this a step further, however.
They’ll use an additive that further increases the waterproofing of their garbage bags.
That’s because they know that customers do not want to deal with a leaky trash bag.
One of the worst experiences you can have with a garbage bag is to find it leaking in your trash can.
It requires you to clean the whole trash can out.
You may even need to waste another garbage bag to cover the leaking one.
Since it can be a pain, some customers prefer to use garbage bags that have added waterproofing capabilities.
That way they never have to deal with leaking or soggy bags.
It costs the company more money to make an improved waterproof bag, so they sell the bag at a more expensive price.
Not every garbage bag company makes their bags out of LDPE either.
Some are bio-based and thus have to include their own waterproofing material.
That might make their costs higher, too.
Garbage bags are expensive because waterproofing the bag can be expensive for some companies.
4. Recycled Plastic Garbage Bags
Because the majority of garbage bags use LDPE, they’re impacting the climate.
LDPE does not break down fast in the landfill.
When it does break down, it releases harmful toxins into the air.
To make waste and all things related to waste cleaner and greener, some companies have started using recycled plastic garbage bags to make new garbage bags.
The idea is that by using recycled garbage bags, manufacturers don’t have to produce more new ones.
That saves on certain processes which might otherwise contribute to further pollution.
It also means there are fewer garbage bags in the landfill releasing toxins into the atmosphere.
Using recycled garbage bags isn’t always the cheapest option, however.
It requires the business to put more effort into locating and sourcing used garbage bags, so they can source and use them.
It also requires them to institute new processes.
The old bags need to be cleaned and undergo several other steps before they can become new garbage bags.
Since that might add some more cost to the company’s budget, they have to sell garbage bags at higher prices.
There’s also the marketing aspect.
People who want to fight climate change may be more inclined to use recycled garbage bags.
They may even be willing to pay more to use those bags.
As such, it encourages the company to sell them at higher prices.
Garbage bags are expensive because the cost of using recycled garbage bags may be a bit higher.
5. Bio-Based Garbage Bags
While some companies are using recycled garbage bags to combat climate change, others are looking at making and using a new type of garbage bag.
A bio-based garbage bag is a bag made out of biodegradable materials.
That usually means the manufacturer uses corn and other fibrous vegetables to create its bags.
The benefit of using bio-based materials is that they degrade without releasing harmful toxins into the environment.
In some cases, they may even be perfect for composting and nourishing the soil further.
They also don’t take that long to degrade.
The problem with LDPE garbage bags is that it can take a long time for them to finally start breaking down.
That only adds to the over-capacity landfill problem.
It also increases the chances of the harmful toxins in the bag leaching out and running into groundwater or other water sources.
Bio-based bags are safer and cleaner.
However, the cost of producing them tends to be higher.
That’s because bio-based products are more expensive to source than synthetic products.
For example, if corn prices are high due to a drought or other problems, then everything else corn-related is going to be expensive, too.
Makers of bio-based garbage bags that use corn will have to spend more money to source their materials.
They’ll then need to sell at higher prices to make up for those losses.
Garbage bags are expensive when they’re bio-based bags because they’re more expensive to produce.
6. Garbage Bag Size
The size of the garbage bag can also impact its price.
Garbage bags tend to come in various sizes.
The smallest typically fit small bathroom trash cans.
There are also trash bags that are a bit taller than they are wide.
These are typically used for kitchen trash cans that sit under the sink or in the corner.
Then there are large garbage bags that are typically used with the house’s main garbage can.
These garbage bags are both wide and tall.
Since the sizes of garbage bags are typically indicated by gallons, you can be sure that the more gallons a garbage bag can carry, the more expensive it is.
That’s because larger garbage bags contain more materials.
If the garbage bag is using a more expensive material, it’s going to be far more expensive.
There’s also an element of convenience in using large bags.
You can fit more into them.
As a result, you tend to use fewer garbage bags in a given time since you can fit more into them.
That means you’re going to go through fewer garbage bags.
That also means you may buy fewer boxes of garbage bags.
As a result, the garbage bag company doesn’t get quite as much money from you over the long term since you’re not buying bags as often.
To ensure they still receive a good amount of money, they charge higher prices.
Garbage bags are expensive when they’re large because they can hold more trash and manufacturers use more materials during their production.
7. Reinforced Handles
One of the most annoying parts of using a garbage bag is when the handles tear.
It makes carrying and securing a trash bag difficult.
Once the handle breaks, there’s also a chance that the garbage bag can rip even further.
All the contents of the bag might start to spill out.
To avoid that, some garbage bag companies make reinforced handles.
They essentially use high-quality plastic or another material to make better handles.
They don’t rip as easily when you pull on them.
They can hold more weight.
Since the company spends a bit more time and money on its handles, it charges its customers extra for those bags.
Garbage bags are expensive when they have reinforced handles since it’s a bit more expensive to make them.
8. Design Costs
While trash bags typically come in shades of white or black, other companies put more effort into their bag design.
Some might use a print, for example, on their garbage bags.
Others might play around with different colors.
A design beyond just white or black makes a garbage bag more expensive because it requires more effort on behalf of the company.
They need to pay designers to come up with new designs for the bag.
They might need to buy more materials to create the design.
Since the production costs are higher, the bag is more expensive.
Garbage bags are expensive when they use designs beyond just white or black.
9. Box Size
While the size of the garbage bag can make it expensive, the size of the box and the number of bags in it can also make garbage bags expensive.
When you go shopping, you’ll often find a few different choices when it comes to quantity.
You can find some boxes with a handful of garbage bags while others have 100s of garbage bags.
Essentially, the bigger the box, the more garbage bags it holds.
That also means that bigger boxes are more expensive.
They’re holding more garbage bags, which means the price of the product increases for each bag that’s in the box.
Garbage bags are expensive when there are a lot of them in a single box.
10. Brand Name
A final factor that makes garbage bags expensive is the brand name.
There are a few well-known garbage bag manufacturers out there.
GLAD is one of them.
GLAD, in particular, almost has a monopoly on the garbage bag industry just because of how well-known they are.
Since GLAD is often a go-to choice for shoppers, they’re able to put whatever price they want on their bags.
They know that because their customers trust them to make quality bags, they’re going to be willing to pay a higher price.
The same goes for other well-known brands.
Because they established a reputation for themselves, people are willing to spend more on their products than take a risk on a cheaper generic brand.
Garbage bags are expensive when they come from well-known brand names.