Plastic Film Producers Catch Temporary Break in Retail Bag Demand Due to COVID-19

COVID-19 has led to suspension of state and local bans of single-use plastic items, including film-intensive products like retail bags. Despite the ongoing shift away from plastic single-use items due to their negative environmental profile, the pandemic has altered perceptions of plastic bags, which are considered safer and more hygienic than reusable types. In fact, in some parts of the US, reusable bag use has been banned in grocery stores due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

This is providing some temporary respite for plastic film suppliers who’ve been facing declining film demand in retail bag applications, which totaled 950 million pounds in 2019. However, gains from the suspension of these policies will be offset by ripple effects in other areas, such as trash/garbage bags and can liners, which were benefitting from plastic bag bans, as many consumers often reuse retail bags for these purposes.

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A new Freedonia Group analysis projects demand for plastic film will total 16.8 billion pounds valued at $23.8 billion in 2024. Plastic Film analyzes the US market for plastic film, including converted or unconverted plastic films, by application and resin type. Historical data for 2009, 2014, and 2019 and forecasts for 2024 are presented in pounds.