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Environmental Benefits of Paper Packaging from Wisconsin Converting, Inc.

WCI was one of the first manufacturers to manufacture and stock 100% recycled natural paper merchandise & SOS bags for the retail and food service markets. We're committed to supplying high-quality, eco-friendly paper bags to serve customers large and small and to producing those bags in a way that reduces our environmental impact and improves the communities where we live and work. Environmentally conscious customers choose WCI for a variety of reasons, but here are a few of our favorites:

  • WCI stocks 100% recycled natural paper merchandise & SOS bags in many sizes.
  • We manufacture Eco-Natural paper shipping bags with 100% recycled fibers (90% post-consumer). Eco-Shipper® contains 40% recycled content. Both are eco-friendly alternatives to poly or bubble mailers.
  • Most WCI products are 100% recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable.
  • We print our products with water-based ink.
  • We work with paper mills and other manufacturers that are nationally-recognized industry leaders in environmental safety. High standards on emission controls, water purification standards, and energy efficiency help make WCI products safer for our environment.
  • Eco-conscious leadership: The State of Wisconsin has established the John C. Brogan Award for Outstanding Environmental Achievement on behalf of WCI's owner, John Brogan.
  • Responsible manufacturing processes. Our plant uses energy-efficient lighting and a high-tech ink mixing system that virtually eliminates wasted ink. Learn more about our commitment to the environment and our employees on our website.
Colorful Printed Paper BagsWe are often asked about how paper compares to plastic from an environmental standpoint. Here are some statistics that may help those seeking an eco-friendly packaging solution:
  • Paper is recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable.
  • Paper recycling is on the rise - 96% of Americans have access to community paper recycling programs.
  • Paper is recycled at a higher rate than plastic. A record 67.2% of paper consumed in the US was recovered for recycled in 2016. The remainder is often reused for other purposes including composting.
  • The annual paper recovery rate has doubled since 1990 and US paper recovery has met or exceeded 63% for the past eight years. The industry has a goal to exceed 70% paper recovery for recycling by 2020.
  • Every ton of paper recovered saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, 7,000 gallons of water, and 4,100 kilowatts of electricity.
  • Paper comes from trees - a renewable resource. Each year 1.7 billion trees are planted in the United States - more than five trees for every man, woman and child in America - an average of 4.8 million seedlings each day.
  • Nearly 37% of the raw material used to make new paper products comes from recycled paper. Today, the forest products industry uses 50% less water per ton of product than in 1975.
Sources: www.paperrecycles.org, American Forest & Paper Association, http://www.hardwoodforest.org/forestfacts

Paper Bags for Packaging Handcrafted Soaps

Eco-Friendly Packaging for Handcrafted Soap & Bath Bombs When it comes to packaging, nothing says “natural” quite like a paper bag. Artisans seeking an environmentally-friendly solution for packaging their handcrafted soaps want something that is grease or oil-resistant, recyclable, and inexpensive. That’s why many of them choose paper bags to package their products. [caption id="attachment_604" align="alignleft" width="221"]Bath Bomb Bags Cream-colored merchandise bags printed with product names and customer logo[/caption] Paper bags come in many shapes, sizes, and colors that effectively pack single bars of soap– or multiple items. From small recycled brown paper merchandise bags, to glassine bags, and grease-resistant SOS bags, we offer a range of products for packaging soaps, bath bombs, lotion bars, and more. Our Eco-Natural shipping bags are growing in popularity with Etsy shop owners and others who ship bath products worldwide. Here are some creative ways soap makers are using WCI paper bags for packaging hand-made soaps, lotions, and bath bombs:

  • Choosing different colored paper merchandise bags for packaging different scents. Think pink for rose-scented soaps, purple for lavender, yellow for lemon…you get the idea. It’s an easy way to package, sort, and identify different items and to display them for sale.
  • Purchasing a specialty bag like glassine-lined Gourmet bags to package bath bombs or bars of soap – eliminating the need for pre-wrapping in plastic or another wax paper. Originally created as an upscale way to package candies and cookies, Gourmet bags come in many vibrant colors and have become trendy for soap artisans because they are functional and attractive.
  • Specialty products deserve a distinctive touch. Plain paper bags [caption id="attachment_605" align="alignright" width="196"]Natural kraft soap bag 100% recycled natural kraft bag used for Goat Milk Soap[/caption] can be hand-stamped, doodled on, or labeled with stickers. Add ribbon and a gift tag, raffia, a hint of glitter, or another unique twist to give plain bags some personality.
  • Custom printing. Any of our stock bags can be custom printed with product descriptions, logos, instructions, and more. Minimums as low as 500 bags can make personalized packaging possible for home businesses.
Packaging should promote the products within. Paper bags are clean, simple, and natural. Call today for samples and more information.  

2017 WCI Holiday Schedule

Thank you for your business in 2017. We look forward to serving you in the New Year.

A Little Love for the Paper Bag

The paper bag doesn’t often get uproarious accolades. After all, it isn’t new or innovative. Sure, there are many different sizes of bags and several types of paper. But really, it’s still “just a bag.” As one online product review recently read, “What’s to say? You put things in them. It's a bag and it does what bags do, hold things.” Having worked at a paper bag manufacturing company for the last 14 years, I thought it was time to take a stand and sing the praises of the paper bag. After all, unless it’s an SOS bag, it certainly can’t stand up for itself (just a little inside bag humor!). For retailers and other businesses, there really are many reasons to love paper bags:

  1. They’re inexpensive. Compared to boxes or high-end poly and reusable bags, a paper bag is an economical packaging option for everything from popcorn seeds to upscale fashion.
  2. They’re classic. There’s a reason Bloomingdale’s choose a little brown bag. They let your image and products do the talking.
  3. You can reuse them. While often considered single-use, paper bags are perfect for a second life packing lunches, wrapping gifts, scrap paper, crafts, and any number of other creative purposes.
  4. When you’re finished with them, they’re biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable.
  5. Paper bags can make a unique statement. If a plain brown bag is a bit TOO understated for your business, dress them up a bit and use them to your advantage. Select a colorful paper bag to stand out from the crowd. For a special touch, stamp or add a handwritten message to your customers.
  6. A simple brown bag can be a workhorse for your brand. Print your logo or promotional information directly on the bag and use it as a “walking billboard.” And if you really want to “go for it” have your logo hot stamped on them to give them a shiny, embossed look. On stock bags, you can custom print them for as little as once case, so you don't have to be a large company or store a bunch of product.
  7. So many options! There are numerous sizes and shapes of bags and types of paper. Whether you need something grease-resistant to package food or homemade soaps or a heavy-duty bag for bottles of wine or groceries there is literally a paper bag for almost any purpose.
So, what’s not to love about the good old paper bag? Need more reasons to choose paper? Call our sales team or visit our website and we’ll help you find the right bag for your business. Share this post or comment and tell us your favorite thing about paper bags!

Mailer Size & Suggested Usage Guide (Infographic)

As eco-friendly, paper shipping bags continue to grow in popularity for e-commerce and catalog retailers, sometimes it's helpful to compare and contrast which bag is most commonly used for certain products and what sizes are available in each bag type. We've created a helpful infographic that you can print out and bring with you - or share on your website.

Mailer size and usage guide for shipping bags

View larger and download

Grease-Resistant Bag - Surface Property Experiment

Surface Property Experiment

Summer can be long (for parents), so we enlisted the help of this soon-to-be third grader in a little paper bag experiment. The assignment was to perform a test on several grease-resistant papers and photograph them over time to better illustrate the varying levels of resistance.

The 35# white and natural kraft are shown as a "control" as they have no grease-resistant properties. The results? See for yourself!

Which one is right for your product? Read our helpful guide.

Grease-Resistant Packaging Options

Don’t let a greasy bag give your restaurant an unappetizing appearance. Plain kraft paper bags are an inexpensive option for packaging many items. But products that contain oils or grease require a different type of bag entirely. That's where we come in. WCI manufactures three distinct grease-resistant bags. Glassine, waxed paper, and grease-resistant paper each have unique qualities that make them ideal for packaging greasy or oily items. The product you’re packaging, your print requirements, and your budget affect which paper is the right choice for your business. See them in action - check out our surface property experiment! All three different paper grades are safe for food contact, maintain freshness, and resist grease. But there are other factors to consider - like environmental implications and available sizes. To help retail, food service, and bakery customers select the best possible bag for their products we've outlined some of the key items to consider: Glassine: A smooth, glossy paper manufactured by a process called super-calendaring. Provides a clean grease barrier for foods like candy, cake, chocolate, bread, potato chips, soaps, cookies, greasy or oily foods, pickles, egg rolls and more.

  • Features:
    • Transparent, high-end appearance
    • Very thin and smooth
  • Environmental Impact:
    • Recycled content: up to 20% (WCI bags are made with a glassine that starts from 100% sustainability managed forests)
    • 100% recyclable, biodegradable
  • Availability:
    • Available as a custom item in sizes ranging from: 2” wide to 11” tall.
    • Glassine-lined Gourmet bags are in-stock and ready to ship. Choose from three standard sizes and a variety of colors.
    • Custom printing or hot stamping options as low as one case. Truckload quantities and volume discounts available.
Dry Wax Paper: Paper coated on both sides with wax to become resistant to moisture. Dry wax paper undergoes a process where wax is driven into the sheet, leaving no surface residue. This means no wax will transfer to the product inside the bag. The wax coating prevents moisture from passing in either direction to extend freshness of food inside the bag. Wax bags are most often used for: bakeries, cookies and other baked goods, sandwiches, pizza and “doggy” or leftover bags.
  • Features:
    • Keeps moisture in/out to extend the freshness of food inside
  • Environmental Impact:
    • Not recyclable or compostable – wax makes paper moisture-resistant and therefore paper won’t be broken down by water in the recycling process. Like grease and other residue, wax cannot be removed from the paper during recycling.
    • Can be applied to 100% recycled natural kraft for a natural appearance.
  • Availability:
    • Offered as a custom option on select bag sizes. Minimums and sizes per quotation. Please contact our sales team for more information.
Grease-Resistant Paper: White or natural kraft paper made with a grease-resistant coating applied to inhibit grease penetration or staining. Provides a superior printing surface, making it a great option for branded restaurant or food packaging. Less expensive than waxed bags, they’re an affordable option for packaging greasy or oily foods including French fries, sandwiches, pretzels, burgers, hot dogs, potato and tortilla chips, corn dogs, fried foods, bread sticks, pastries, cheese curds, and more.
  • Features:
    • Breathable to let steam and moisture out so food doesn’t get soggy.
    • Smooth surface looks great printed
  • Environmental Impact:
    • 100% recyclable, biodegradable
  • Availability:
WCI is pleased to provide packaging solutions for the restaurant and food service industries. Visit our website today for more information on food and retail packaging options.

30 Years of Service and Solutions from Wisconsin Converting, Inc.

This summer, Wisconsin Converting, Inc. (WCI) celebrates 30 years of service to the packaging industry. When John C. Brogan purchased the bag converting operation from Thilmany Pulp & Paper, he was optimistic despite "knowing nothing" about paper converting. "We moved the bag machines from Kaukauna to Green Bay, where we had a building ready for immediate occupancy and we just got moving," says Brogan. "The first couple of years we muddled along servicing Thilmany customers but eventually we carved out our niche and formed our own identity, servicing smaller runs for the retail market and providing custom-made solutions to industrial customers." In April of 1987, the first paper bag manufactured in our Green Bay, Wisconsin plant was a plain, 8 1/2 x 11 black merchandise bag. WCI now serves a growing distributor base of nearly 1,500 packaging distributors in the United States and Canada and offers many different printing and converting capabilities. Our Green Bay facility houses machines for paper bag manufacturing, flexographic printing, post printing, hot stamping, and sheer cutting. As a Midwestern, family-owned organization, we pride ourselves on providing friendly, personal service and high-quality products for the retail and food service markets. Our team has grown since 1987, and we're pleased to say that 22% of our workforce has been with WCI for 10 years or more. In fact, we have three employees who have been with us since 1987 and have been integral in our success. In the beginning, WCI manufactured only pinch-bottom merchandise bags in white, natural and a handful of standard colors. In keeping up with trends, we've updated our stock colors to include popular and seasonal colors. To meet bag legislation compliance for single-use bags we've made the transition to 100% recycled natural paper for many of our products. We've also added heavier basis weights, grease-resistant options, glassine, and other custom converting options to serve many industries. As a leader in the retail industry, we introduced our first paper mailer, Dura-Bag®, to the market in 1989. This reinforced kraft shipping bag was manufactured for the catalog industry and has grown exponentially with the invention of the Internet and online sales (who knew!?!). In addition to the Dura-Bag®, WCI has since added the Eco-Shipper® and Eco-Natural linerboard mailers to serve online and catalog retailers seeking alternatives to corrugated boxes and poly mailers. Brogan says, "When we opened our doors 30 years ago, we certainly never could have imagined the Internet or the boom of online retail - but it's certainly had a major impact on our business." Starting in 1995, additional machinery was purchased and SOS bags were added to the packaging line-up at WCI. Since then, our SOS bags have become a staple in the foodservice, retail, and grocery markets.  In addition to our standard colors, these popular bags are also available in heavyweight hardware bags and grease-resistant paper which makes them useful for packaging oily foods and baked goods. "Adding the SOS line was a great way to better serve our distributors and provide them with a single source for purchasing merchandise and SOS bags," says President Rich Bierman, who has been leading the company since 2001. "We are in constant pursuit of increasing our capabilities and improving the customer experience through new technology and a personal touch. We want customers to know they can count on us for creative solutions and quality products." As part of our mission to serve "Main Street USA" by providing small-run custom printed bags, hot stamping and post printing were added to help small packaging distributors be able to offer one-case minimums on branded packaging. The ability and willingness to print and drop-ship product in small quantities sets WCI apart as a manufacturer. To increase efficiency and improve our manufacturing flow, in 2007 WCI added almost 15,000 square feet of warehouse and manufacturing space with an addition that expanded on the tunnel connecting the production facility and warehouse. This later made room for additional bag machines which made it possible to produce SOS bags larger than 16#. People. Packaging. Solutions. That's who we are and what we're about. Bierman says, "For 30 years our distributors and our internal team have made coming to work exciting, challenging, and fun. Our goal is to look back in another 30 years with more stories of success. We can' wait to see what the 'next big thing' is that changes the way we do business."

Quoting 101: Get Your Custom Paper Bag Quote Faster

Wisconsin Converting has one of the most extensive stock bag inventories of any paper bag manufacturer.  Customers are always coming up with new and interesting uses for bags, sometimes even our wide-ranging selection of stock products may not fit their needs.  They may need something larger or smaller, heavier or lighter, one color or three colors, flat or gusseted….you get the picture. We have the capability of making literally thousands of variations of paper bags and mailers. Merchandise Bag Printed 1colorOur goal is to turn around quotes in one business day (or less!) whenever possible. In order to expedite your quote and to ensure we get you an accurate price, we need some precise information from you. Here’s what we need to know:

  1. The quantity.  Please ask the customer about their real quantity needs.  Asking us to quote on 5M to one million bags tells us your buyer may not know their real needs. Call our sales staff and they'll do their best to guide you!
  2. The type of bag.  An SOS (lunch style) bag? A merchandise (pinch bottom) bag? A shipping mailer?  If a mailer, do they want a Peel and Seal closure?
  3. The size of bag.  Is it a stock size or custom size?  Regardless, what are the dimensions (indicated in inches in the following manner: width x gusset x height).  If an SOS bag, it’s helpful to use the standard # designation, i.e. 2#, 4#, 6#, etc. Does your customer need the exact size – or is our closest standard acceptable? We can do bags as small as 2" wide and as large as 58" in length, depending on bag type.
  4. The paper.  The paper color? The basis weight? Is it Kraft, is it grease-resistant or a wet-strength paper?  Do they want a special non-stock paper? Depending on the size and type of bag, they can be made from paper ranging from 20-126# in basis weight in a variety of standard colors.
  5. Specialty Converting.  We offer a number of specialty options including banding  or shrink wrapping in smaller quantities, dry wax or waxed bags, duplex bags, poly-lined bags, bags that are shear-cut to achieve a flat edge, have pin-holes or perforations, and more.
  6. Printed or plain.  If custom printed with a logo or promotional Printed glassine lined bags for donutsmessage, how many colors will be used?  Will the bag be printed one side or two?  If the bag is gusseted, is there printing in the gussets?  Printing in the gussets makes it a two-side printed bag. View our printing specifications.
  7. Ink color/foil color.  Is the ink selected from our list of stock ink colors or are they special PMS blends? If a special PMS blend there will be an additional fee.  If using one of our stock metallic inks, 15% will be added to the total bag cost.  Is the foil from our stock color offering or is it a special order foil? Additional fees, and minimum order may apply for special-order foils. View our stock ink & foil colors.
  8. Percentage of ink coverage.  How much of the bag surface is covered by ink?  Less than 25%?  40%? 75%?  This determines the cost of the printing plates, if the coverage will impact run speeds on the bag making equipment (especially if there is printing in the gussets), and the amount of ink needed to complete the job – particularly true for special PMS blends that must be mixed.  If you are uncertain about the ink coverage and you have an existing bag send us a picture.  Or, send us the art and we’ll determine the coverage for you.Printed paper bags
  9. Carton pack.  Our Price Book Packaging Guide specifies the carton pack for all stock bag sizes.  However, if a different carton pack is required please let us know.  Special packing requests may require a made-to-order carton.
  10. Shipping.  Larger orders may qualify for free freight, based on their weight or total number of cases.  If not, and you would like us to give an estimate on shipping costs, please indicate the city and zip code to which the product is to be shipped.  If it is a residence and requires a lift-gate, and/or inside delivery, let us know that as well as trucking companies often have additional fees for such things.
  11. Price. If this is a bag previously manufactured by another vendor, do you have an idea of what the customer paid for it?  If it’s a new bag does the customer have a budget for the project?  If we know this information we can possibly offer options to keep the project within the budget.
The more information you can provide us, the more accurate and useful the quote we can provide you. Please use this helpful “cheat sheet” to help request your next custom quote! Download the Cheat Sheet!

Biodegradable Bags, Compostable Bags, and Recyclable Bags - What Does it all Mean?

As a paper bag manufacturer, we’re often asked whether our paper bags are recycled, recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable. And the simple answer is that, yes, WCI manufactures paper bags that fall into those various categories. We’d like to provide more information on some common questions regarding paper bags and their environmental implications. What’s the difference between biodegradable paper bags and compostable paper bags? In a world where many “eco-friendly” terms are thrown around interchangeably to attract buyers, even the most well-intentioned consumer can feel misinformed. Some common terms you may hear when making decisions regarding which environmentally responsible packaging best suits your product or brand are: Biodegradable Bag: A bag that will break down into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass within a reasonable amount of time in a natural environment. Note that just because something is marked as biodegradable, it requires certain conditions to do so. Landfills lack microorganisms and organisms required for waste to degrade. And if it’s disposed of inside another container or plastic bag, biodegradation may not occur in a timely fashion. Compostable Bag: The EPA definition of compostable is an organic material that will decompose under a controlled biological process in the presence of air to form a humus-like material. Compostable products must biodegrade within a reasonable amount of time (a couple months) and produce no visible or toxic residues. Composting may occur in an industrial or municipal composting site or in a home composter. Recyclable Bag: A bag that can be collected and reprocessed to produce new paper. Paper recycling involves mixing the used paper materials with water and chemicals to break them down into cellulose (an organic plant material). The pulp mixture is strained through screens to remove any adhesives or other contaminants and then de-inked or bleached so it can be made into new recycled paper. Check out this simple illustration from Earth Answers. Recycled Paper Bag: A paper bag made from paper that has been used before and put through the recycling process. The percentage of post-consumer fibers means how much of the pulp used to make the paper has been used by a consumer. Examples of post-consumer materials are old magazines, mail, cardboard boxes, and newspapers. For most bag legislation, a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled content is required to be compliant. Many paper bags manufactured in our facility are made with 100% post-consumer recycled material. Is it better to recycle a paper bag, or to compost it? Either option is acceptable but please, DON’T THROW IT IN THE TRASH! Unless they have been heavily contaminated with grease or oils from food, or are laminated with poly or foil, paper bags can be recycled to make new paper products or composted. Recycling can have a larger-scale environmental impact than composting because there is generally greater access to recycling programs than to compost collection. Recycling also puts the bag back into the paper supply stream, reducing the need for need virgin fiber.  But composting or using bags as ground cover or weed barriers positively impacts the environment as well as it eliminates use of chemicals and plastics. Before recycling or composting - don’t forget, paper bags are also reusable. They can be used to cover books, pack lunches, wrap gifts, create gift cards or notepads, or used as scrap paper. How long does a paper bag take to biodegrade? How does that compare to other items? This is an interesting statistic. Of course, how quickly something breaks down depends on the environment in which it must do so. Even fruit peels, which normally break down in just days won’t break down if put inside a plastic bag in a landfill because they won’t have adequate light, water, and bacterial activity required for the decay process to begin. This chart we found at www.sciencelearn.org shows how long some common items take to biodegrade in a natural setting: Biodegrade Chart Visit their site to learn more about biodegradability and the science of how they measured the timeframes above. Factors that may affect how quickly a paper bag biodegrades include the thickness (or basis weight) of the paper and the environment in which it is expected to break down. Wetter, warmer conditions make for faster biodegradation. Which paper bag is right for my company? WCI offers many environmentally friendly packaging options as well as several that are bag ban compliant. EcoChart All paper merchandise bags and SOS bags manufactured at WCI are 100% recyclable and can be composted. We also offer many eco-friendly shipping bag options like the Eco-Natural mailer, which is made with 100% recycled fibers and can be composted as well. Please visit our website or call our sales team if you’d like help selecting a bag that will effectively package your product. Sources: www.twosidesna.org www.tappi.org www.sciencelearn.org