Paper bags, which are used to store items, have come under increasing scrutiny as they are used more often for storing groceries, according to a new paper bag research study.
Key points:The study looked at how paper bags are used and how they are stored in supermarkets across AustraliaKey points Paper bags are commonly used to buy groceries in supermarkets and onlineThe paper bag roller is a popular grocery store item in AustraliaMany of the items used in paper bags were not tested as they were used in other productsThe study found paper bags have been used in supermarkets since at least the late 1800s and have a low cost of ownership compared to many other grocery items.
But some supermarkets in Australia are using paper bags to make up for their lower cost of capital.
“Paper bags are the most commonly used grocery item, which is surprising given that paper bags account for less than 5% of the grocery store supply in Australia, and a substantial amount of their price is spent on packaging and paper, which may be lower than other grocery products,” said the paper bag study’s lead author, Dr Andrew Gildersleeve.
“These results show paper bags could help lower the cost of grocery stores’ groceries by at least 20-30% compared to other grocery purchases.”
The study also found paper bag rolls, which have been commonly used in Australia for a long time, are used in some supermarkets.
But paper bags can cost up to 80% more than paper rolls.
“The paper bags we tested were more expensive to produce than the paper rolls, and the price difference between paper rolls and paper bags was even greater, costing an average of $1.85 per roll over a 2-week period,” Dr Gildersey said.
“We would suggest that it would be cheaper for consumers to purchase paper rolls or paper bags from a grocery store than it is to purchase the paper bags and paper rolls.”
The paper roller can be bought in most supermarkets, and many supermarkets in the US also sell paper rolls that can be used in the same way.
“If you go into a supermarket in the States, there are paper rolls at the counter that you can buy, but there are not that many of them,” Dr Andrew said.
The study is published in the journal Applied Economics Letters.