Disposable bags are a rather new idea.

Paper Bag History
    Trees cut for pulp mill, Fort McMurray
    Greg Halinda Photography
  • 1852 Francis Wolle patented in the United States, and later in France and England, a machine that he devised for making paper bags. It was the first of its kind, and covers the fundamental principle of the many similar machines that are now used.

  • 2011  The Union Bag & Paper Corporation operates the largest mill, near Savannah, Georgia, of its kind in the world. Into it, each year, go over a million cords of long-fibered Southern pine. Out of it come 35,000,000 paper bags per day -- 9 billion per year,  250 bags for each family in the United States just from this mill.
  • 2011  Americans use paper bags at the rate of 40 billion a year in total.  
  • Source: The Idea Finder

    Plastic Bag History

    • 1957 The first baggies and sandwich bags on a roll were introduced.
    • 1958 Poly dry cleaning bags competed with traditional brown paper.
    • 1966 Plastic bag packaging took over 25 to 30 percent of the market.
    • 1966 Plastic produce bags on a roll were introduced in grocery stores.
    • 1969 The New York City Sanitation Department's "New York City Experiment" demonstrated that plastic refuse bag curbside pickup was cleaner, safer and quieter than metal trash can pick-up, beginning a shift to plastic can liners among consumers.
    • 1974/75 Retailing giants such as Sears, J.C. Penney, Montgomery Ward, Jordan Marsh, Allied, Federated and Hills made the switch to plastic merchandise bags.
    • Greg Halinda Photography
    • 1973 The first commercial system for manufacturing plastic grocery bags became operational
    • 1977 The plastic grocery bag was introduced to the supermarket industry as an alternative to paper sacks.
    • 1982 Kroger and Safeway started to replace traditional craft sacks with polyethylene "t-shirt" bags.
    • 1990 The first blue bag recycling program began with kerbside collection.
    • 1990 Consumer plastic bag recycling began through a supermarket collection-site network.
    • 1996 Four of five grocery bags used are plastic.
    Source: The Packaging Institute 

    Blue Q Paper or Plastic Neither bag
    is made from recycled grain bags and
    will hold 40 lbs. Photo Greg Halinda Photography