Why Gauge Isn't Always Important.

Film thickness is no longer a satisfactory standard for judging overall strength. The development of improved LLDPE resin in the liner industry has completely changed the standard method for selecting the correct can liners. These materials have allowed manufacturers to produce thinner, lighter trash bags which are stronger and more durable than the thicker bags previously made from low density resin. This is why gauge is no longer an effective way to determine liner strength. Instead of stating actual thickness, it is now generally accepted to use terminology such as "Light", "Medium", "Heavy", and "Extra Heavy". (See comparison table.)

Steps to Choosing the right can liner.

1. How to determine the proper can liner type for your application.

There are 2 types of resins commonly used in the manufacture of can liners: (LLD) Linear Low & (HD) High Density.  To decide which type you need, answer this question:  "Are sharp objects being thrown away?"   If yes, you need (LLD) Linear Low Density liners.  If no, you need (HD) High Density liners.

For Can Size use the instructions below for correct can liner size.



Strength Rating

Linear Low Density

Mil Thickness

.75 mil =.00075

1 mil =.001

2 mil =.002


Old Low Density



Light (L)

.35 to .50


Medium (M)

.45 to .75


Heavy (H)

.60 to 1.0


Heavy Plus (H+)

.74 to 1.3


Extra Heavy (XH)

.90 to 1.5


Extra Extra Heavy (XXH)

1.3 to 2.0


Each manufacturer has its own blend formulations, so the proportions of these materials vary from one producer to another. The best way to determine the correct liner is to actually test some suggested samples.


It's important to know a little bit about what can liners are actually made of, and how thicknesses are measured. That way, you can determine which of the polyethylene resins and liner gauges will work best for your particular application

Resin- The basic raw material from which can liners are made. There are 3 types of resins: Low Density, Linear Low Density, and High Density Polyethylene.

Linear Low Density Polyethylene- This resin is highly puncture and tear resistant. These properties make this the best choice for applications where additional strength and stretch are required. Works well for waste with sharp or jagged edges. These liners provide maximum puncture and tear resistance.

High Density Polyethylene- Liners made from this resin are generally available in lower gauges, and are more temperature resistant. High Density provides substantial cost savings per liner.  These liners are an excellent choice for soft refuse (typical office, restrooms, paper products, etc.)

Measuring for Correct Can Liner Size

Bag Width:  Use 1/2 of the outer circumference of the container.

Bag Length: Use the height of the container, plus 1/2 of the diameter of the container bottom, plus 3 inches (for overhang).  For square or rectangular containers, use the diagonal of the container bottom, rather than the diameter.

Low Density Polyethylene- This is an older resin still used mainly in lower end liners. It has largely been replaced by Linear Low Density Polyethylene.

Post-Consumer and Post-Industrial Polyethylene­

This is made from recycled post-consumer plastics, such as milk jugs and industrial scraps. These are reprocessed and blended with other types of resins.

Gauge-A term used to describe the thickness of a liner. Linear Low density liners are measured in mils, while High Density liners are generally measured in microns.

Mil- Measurement based on thousandths of an inch (.000). For example, a .55 mil bag would be 55 thousandths of an inch thick. Common Linear Low density liners range from .35 to 2.0 mil in thickness.

Micron- Based on one hundred thousandths of an inch (.000000). High Density liners usually range from 6 to 24 microns in thickness.

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