Inventor: Sten Gustaf Thulin

Who Invented the Plastic Bag?

Sten Gustaf Thulin (1914-2006), a Swedish package designer, created the plastic shopping bag. Although, most modern distributors refer to Thulin’s design as the “T-shirt bag” there isn’t a clear answer as to how the bag got its name. My guess is that if you attempt to wear one it looks and wears like a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off. Thulin specialized in package design and experimented with different materials to hold, ship, and preserve consumer goods. During the early 1960s, Thulin contemplated a convenient, aesthetically pleasing, and cost-effective way to carry goods from point A to B. The design he came up with was the “Bag with handle of weldable plastic material”.

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The original patent for “Bag with handle of weldable plastic material” – 1965 Via Google Patents.

Thulin described the object as a “bag composed of a polymeric weldable sheet material…having front and back panels” their “bottom edges welded together to form a closed bottom for the bag.” and “the front and back panels having top edges welded together to form handle loops”.  The bag was patented by Sweden based packing-company Celloplast in July 1962. However, very few people knew about or used plastic bags when they were first invented. Some newspapers within the United States published articles encouraging consumer use during the 1960s.  They provided “a few ways” for consumers “to use plastic bags”.[1]

Modern Plastic Bag

In addition to Thulin’s T-Shirt bag patent, Celloplast was also known for producing a machine that was appropriate to stack bags quickly and an apparatus for separating and sealing bags, both of which would come after the 1962 breakthrough. It is important to ask the question, did Thulin know what he was getting the world into by creating the plastic bag? Probably not, it seems that this was invented with people on the go in mind. People who needed a little more support from the supermarket to the car.[2]





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[1] “About Your Home.” The Daily Notes, December 31, 1963. Accessed May 10, 2018. Bags.

[2] Zhang, Sarah. “Throwing This Out Here: Plastic Bags Are Amazing and You Should Appreciate Them More.” Wired. June 03, 2017. Accessed May 01, 2018.