The Sweet Scent of Plastic Garbage Bags

Trash bags now come in scents like vanilla or lavender
Trash bags now come in scents like vanilla or lavender.

Producers of plastic garbage bags are aiming to make trash day less stinky. According to an article in The Wall Street JournalGlad Products Co.Hefty, and other manufacturers are tweaking the plastic of garbage bags so they protect people from odorous assaults from the contents of the bags.

Retail and consumer trends reporter Sarah Nassauer says that a number of companies are adding scents to the bags to mask the smell of trash. Others, like SimpleHuman, are introducing unscented bags where the plastic is lined with carbon. The carbon latches on to the offending volatile molecules from the garbage and prevents them from hitting our noses.

Apparently, the quest for non-smelly trash has been on manufacturers’ minds for a while. Nassauer quotes Dawn Willoughby, vice president and general manager at Glad Products Co., saying the issue of stinky trash has been a huge problem for the company, which sells most of the kitchen trash bags in the U.S., that they’ve been looking to solve.

Nassauer writes:

The odor-cutting technologies are designed in part to persuade consumers to keep spending and pay more for the bags. Garbage-bag prices have risen because the cost of resin used to make plastic bags is up this year. Clorox recently raised prices on all Glad trash bags 10% and says it plans to raise them further.

To save money, consumers more often are overstuffing their trash and reusing bags like those from the grocery store to save money, trash bag makers say.

But while the overall sales of garbage bags has plateaued since 2009, most of the companies report an uptick in sales of the odor-neutralizing and scented bags. The market is a fiercely competitive one, so the battle to win the noses of consumers is on.

In the Ruffies brand of garbage bags, a baking soda derivative is dusted on the surface of the bag. Glad bags are manufactured from a special material which consists of the fragrance, Febreze, sandwiched between two layers of plastic. Hefty claims its odor technology is integrated with the plastic of the bags on a molecular level.

Source: “Gee, Your Trash Smells Terrific,” The Wall Street Journal, 06/09/11
Image by nateOne (Nate Gr
igg), used under its Creative Commons license.


Rajendrani "Raj" Mukhopadhyay is a science writer and editor who contributes news stories and feature articles on scientific advances to a variety of magazines. Raj holds Ph.D. in biophysics from Johns Hopkins University.