Plastic Inserts: The Low Down

The small plastic insert in the bottom of a reusable bag can extend bag life dramatically. But down isn’t good if it’s dirty or toxic. Make sure yours is clean and safe.

What Does the Insert Do?

The plastic insert has two main functions. First, it protects the bottom of your bag from pressure points. The corner of a box or a sharp object can tear bag fabric even when the bag is not overloaded. The plastic bottom insert prevents bag failure due to pressure points.
The insert also helps stabilize the bag. Stores and consumers save time when a bag stands up for loading and unloading. A flat bottom ensures items are supported and stable during packing and when the bag is lifted.
Laminated bags generally don’t need inserts. Lamination makes the fabric thicker, stronger and stiff enough to hold its shape while loading.
No matter what kind of bag you have, make sure you take a minute to rinse or clean your bottom inserts often.

Clear PE Inserts Are Better

Compared to black PP stiffeners, clear polyethylene (PE) bag inserts are cleaner, more flexible, and longer lasting. PE is a food-grade plastic, the same plastic used in water bottles. It is non-toxic, recyclable, and it remains strong and flexible for up to two years.
Because it is clear, you can be sure no lead has gone into them. Lead and other heavy metals are dark in color. For a bottom insert, transparency is an indication of purity.

Problems with Black Inserts

Black PP inserts can vary widely in composition because many of them use recycled materials which can be contaminated. A main source of recycled PP is car parts, which have no business near your food. Lead and other toxins are easily hidden in the black molded plastic.
PP inserts also dry out and become brittle quickly. They can be prone to breakage in a few months and are not designed to last for a year. One crack can lead to an early failure of your bag.