September 2009

In This Issue:
• “It’s in the bag!” – Tips for Gift and Shopping bag production in China
 — Plastic Shopping bags
 — Paper shopping bags
 — Reusable shopping bags
• Case Study: Albertsons’ bag series
• Meet the Staff: Malcolm Zhu
• Upcoming Events

  China Printing News, Tips on China Print Production & Case Studies

"It's in the bag!"

-Tips for Gift and Shopping Bag Production in China

(Shopping Bag Solutions in China)

With the initial purpose of buying more purchases at one time, invention of the shopping bag as we know it was first accredited to a Minnesota old-style grocer named Walter Deubner, who in 1912 patented the paper shopping bag to help customers carry (and therefore purchase) more. A century later, plastic, paper, non-woven, woven and canvas bags are as integral to retail as shoppers themselves.
Here China Printing Solutions International presents a brief introduction to overseas production of shopping bags.

Key Benefits: low cost, fast turnaround Thickness range: 0.2mil to 2 mil

Options Comparison:

Relative Cost
Typical Usage
HDPE (high-density polyethylene)
T-shirt bags, handled shopping bags, pharmaceutical bag
Simple manufacture; Large quantity produced at low cost; Disposable
LDPE (low-density polyethylene)
Trash bags, supermarket
shopping bags
Similar to HDPE, but with higher quality that can be re-used
PP (Polypropylene)
clothing, gift, wine bags
Thicker than PE, normally used in fashion retail shops
PVC (Polyvinyl chloride)
Gift bags, skin care products packaging
Potentially containing toxic properties, flexible, stronger protection

Production tips:

1. Anti-dumping—Anti-dumping legislation in the USA AND EU in the past few years has made purchasing plastic shopping bags overseas more challenging. Manufacturers are rated and assessed individually for anti-dumping tariffs. CPS is proud to be able to produce plastic shopping bags for clients free from anti-dumping tariffs.

2. CACO3—One way to reduce cost in plastic bags is by adding Calcium Carbonate (CACO3) into the plastic sheeting mix. As CACO3 costs less than plastic resin, you will enjoy a parallel cost reduction from 1-3% of the total cost. Be careful, however—adding CACO3 results in a weaker bag. Always ask your supplier for details on CACO3 content and associated cost reduction. China Printing Solutions recommends no more than 10-15% total CACO3.

3. Color matching
—Plastic bags are produced using gravure printing—a rapid but relatively crude process. This can result in (relatively) poor color registration, artwork distortion and dot gain. Keep your artwork simple line art. Ensure that type is at least 12 points…if you want your ®’s and ™’s to be legible, increase their size a bit. Be prepared for small color shifts.

Environmental Tips:

1. Recycled Material
—PE bags can be safely produced with as much as 50-60% recycled material.

2. Bio-plastic—‘Plastics’ made from stored carbon found in corn and other starchy vegetables like Polyactide (PLA) can be used to produce approximations of plastic bags. These bags are reputed to degrade in a proper composting environment in as little as a few months time. Beware, however: PLA bags are much weaker than PE bags, difficult to print on and unsuitable for many purposes.

3. Bio-degradeable
The promise of bio-degradeable bags, a rather recent entrant in the race towards a more sustainable shopping bag solution, is that by inserting trace amounts of additives like cobalt and manganese, plastic bags will break down into basic elements within 2-3 years, (as compared with 100 years or longer). While that is a potentially very exciting advance, skepticism exists as to the practical applications of this solution, as the bags need oxygen and sunlight to degrade, which are usually not present inside landfills or compost heaps. To learn more, please click here!


Chinese production is ideal for paper bags as the folding, gluing, punching of holes and adding of rivets, and stringing of ropes are processes requiring substantial time and labor.

With China Printing Solutions, up to 5,000 bags can be assembled per day, at a fraction of the cost of developed countries. Paper shopping bags, commonly recognized as of better quality (and of higher cost) than plastic bags, enjoy the most flexibility of all bag types in that virtually all offset printing and finishing technologies can be called upon in their production.
Paper material, size, finishing, handle material, length and style can be customized and printing may range from solid spot colors to full continuous tone art.

Here we present an organized overview of paper bag substrate options:

Paper Type
Relative Cost
Coated paper
• Best for smooth, crisp artwork reproduction and halftone art
• Easy to match spot colors and metallic inks.
• Can crack or wrinkle easy
• More expensive than Uncoated paper
LDPE (low-density polyethylene)
• Inexpensive
• Can be made of recycled pulp
• Not very strong (normally used for small size bags)
• Hard to match color, does not display vivid colors
Fancy Paper (textured and specialty papers)
• Achieves unique or luxury effect with color, texture and tone (i.e. for perfume or jewelry bag)
• Expensive.
• Difficult to print on, may require testing or special printing method
Synthetic Paper (PVC or PU substrates, aka “Yupo Paper”)
• Very strong and durable
• May be waterproof
• High cost
• Unnatural ‘plastic’ feel

Rivets: May be added to reinforce the handle hole, may be made of plastic or metal and may be customized in color to match the bag.
Handles: Can be made of nylon, cotton rope, plastic, twine or twisted paper to suit design taste.
Finish: Numerous finishing styles can be applied such as lamination to prevent scratching, increase strength and impart water and dirt resistant properties, and spot UV, embossing or hot stamping for visual effect.
Production Tips:

1. Adhesives: Find out how your bag is being glued. In some cases a coverall adhesive is brushed on by hand—This produces a more consistent and durable bond, but may cost more, and may not be suitable for gluing of thin, uncoated papers which can warp easily. In other cases a double-sided adhesive may be used in strips applied to key areas—This is typically cheaper and preferred by many manufacturers, but rife with pitfalls as low-grade adhesive may result in bag seams unraveling over time or with exposure to humidity (this is especially true if the bag has a plastic lamination). Always insist on only the best quality and most durable adhesives….it is well worth the pennies you may pay.

2. Packing: When packing the bags, keep in mind that albeit lightweight, there will be significant compression force when bags are tightly stacked together in their shipping cartons, potentially causing rope knots to create indentations on the bag surface. For this reason it is critical that for bags with rope handles, the knots are strung out from inside the bag so that they cannot dent the bagthe bags themselves.

3. Reinforcement—if you are planning for your bag to hold heavy items, it is recommended that you do several or all of the following: select a heavier paper weight, laminate, use rivets, insert cardboard reinforcing sleeves beneath the lip of the bag, and a cardboard bottom tray in the base of the bag.


One of China Printing Solutions’ most popular items these days are re-usable shopping bags made of Nonwoven Polypropylene, Woven polypropylene, Canvas, Jute, or PET plastic. Both fashionable and affordable, the claim to fame of Reusable bags are of course, their environmentally friendly properties by way of reduction of plastic and paper bag consumption. For those new to the Reusable bag world, here’s a crash course:

Non-woven (PP non-woven):

PP Nonwoven Fabric is a synthetic material made from long fibers, bonded together by chemical, mechanical, heat or solvent treatment (that is—neither woven nor knitted). While not as strong as woven fabrics, they have middle range durability and can be strengthened by double-stitching and reinforcement.

Woven (PP/ Cotton/nylon/ linen/ canvas):

Woven bags may be made of Cotton, linen and canvas for a very natural, durable and high end feeling (at a cost to match), or of PolyPropylene cut into strips and then woven together in a fine mesh.

Here below is the chart for the comparison of the most commonly used printing methods for bags:

Printing Type
Application Details
Compatible Bag Material
Screen printing
Thick, opaque ink applied directly to the bag through a mesh screen and masking template.
PP non-woven material, PET material
• Low minimum quantity
• Thick, opaque printing effect
• Only spot color line art (no gradients or halftones)
• Relatively slow production time
Gravure printing
Art printed on a film, then laminated to bag surface
PP-non woven bag,
PP woven bag
• Can print halftones or line art
• Must be used with a lamination which has less of a natural feeling
Heat transfer printing
Art printed on a very thin and transparent film, the laminated to the material.
Woven bags with cotton, linen, canvas, jute material
• Rich, Vibrant printing effect.
• Natural surface feeling
• High cost
• Low speed

Production Tips:

1. For Nonwove bags, you can save a bit of money using black or white bag substrate. But ask for quotations often, as market price for PP nonwove material fluctuates regularly in China.

2. Want your grocery or trade show bag to last long and not snap under heavy weight? Ask for Double stitching!

3. For screen printing, you’ll need a white under layer for printing color on dark bags. Gradient artwork can sometimes be simulated for screen printed artwork. If you require assistance in creating effective artwork for reusable bags, please ask us!

Environmental Tips:

1. When sourcing PP nonwoven bags in China, view with great suspicion claims that the bags are “recycled.” The word commonly used for “recycled,” environmentally friendly” and “recycleable” are pretty much the same in the Chinese language and are widely misunderstood or misrepresented. While it is technically possible to produce PP Nonwove bags with a small amount of recycled material, quality and production limitations are such that it is rarely if ever done in China at the moment.

2. PET bags and PP Woven bags CAN be made from up to 100% recycled material (in China, PET material primarily comes from recycled plastic soft drink bottles! However, this can run up cost to be 20-30% higher than PP nonwove bags.

Case Study:
Reusable Fashion Shopping Totes Program

Client: Albertson’s Supermarkets

Project Name: Reusable Fashion Shopping Totes

Albertson’s wished to implement an ongoing program of reusable shopping bags With a fresh and fashionable appeal that they could resell to their customers to support their green initiatives and practices. Our USA parent company Ivie & Associates, developed a series of Unique bag designs along with an integrated campaign of weekly ads and materials for in-store display racks. Over 1 million reusable bags were designed, produced and shipped to Albertsons stores for a coordinated kick off.

Key Challenges: Working with a range of colors and designs and a short time frame required a concerted effort of fabric sample making and design print testing. Once the bags were produced, the range of designs needed to be packaged, paletted and labeled so that once the shipment arrived the US distribution center, pallets could be easily shipped off to individual stores for campaign launch.

Meet the Staff:

Malcolm, formerly national VP of Marketing and Advertising at Lotus Supercenters, has extensive hands-on experience and know-how from years of experience developing and executing China-wide marketing communications.

From loyalty cards to signage to myriad regional and national promotional campaigns, Malcolm's market insight and hands-on experience ensure that solutions provided to clients have the best combination of global best practice and local efficacy.

Malcolm also has 2 years learning and working experience in France with MBA degree obtained. He speaks fluent English, Mandarin and French. In the spare time, Malcolm loves gym and sports a lot, which keeps his body fit as always.

Malcolm can be reached at Malcolm.zhu(at)

Upcoming Events
Sep-Oct, 2009

September 22-24:
China Paper / China Forest 2009 (Beijing)

Oct. 1-8:
The Chinese National Holiday

October 14-18:
Frankfurt Book show
For more information: please click here!

October 13-15:

CPS Founder and General Manager Aaron Brent Landis business trip to US

Shipping Solutions in China

+1.877.CPS.3933 +1.314.266.0741 +44.(0)20.7193.0741 +61.(0)3.9018.5729
© 2009 Ivie Asia Limited. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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