This statement was made by Raoul Thulin, son of Sten Gustaf Thulin.
But who is Raoul Thulin?
Raoul is the son of the man who invented the plastic bags in 1960, the Swedish Sten Gustaf Thulin.
Thulin, the father, specialized in packaging design and during his life, has experimented with different materials to contain, ship and store consumer goods.
In the early 1960s, Thulin found a convenient and aesthetically pleasing way to transport small items.
The design he invented was the “Bag with a weldable plastic handle”.
To better understand the scope and usefulness of this discovery, let’s open a small window on the period during which the facts happened.
In the 1960s, plastic was becoming popular.
Polyethylene, which today together with polypropylene is one of the most popular plastics in the world, was created in 1898.
But it was only in 1953 that someone managed to make high-density polyethylene, that is now (or rather, it was) generally used to make the kind of plastic bags for supermarkets.
Curiously, this invention was made by a Swedish company, Celloplast, which had always sold cellulose films.
This company was looking at more sustainable ways to transport products purchased in stores.
In 1960, the company obtained a patent for “packaging tubes”, designed by a team of three Celloplast employees.
Technically, the idea was that a plastic tube, laid flat, could be sealed at regular intervals to create the bottom of a bag and left open at the top.
Although the idea was good, one of the team members, Gustaf Thulin Sten, had a better one: seal the bottom of the pipe but at the other end of the plastic pipe. create handles.
In 1965 Celloplast obtained an American patent for the idea that was later called “the plastic T-shirt bag”, because the design of this bag looked a lot like a classic T-shirt.
Already at the end of the 1970s, polyethylene bags accounted for 80% of total bag production in Europe.
But it was only in the early ’80s that, following the decision of two American supermarkets – Safeway and Kroger – to use this type of bag, they spread throughout the world.
At this point, it is natural to ask why a company that has always been involved in cellulose (i.e. paper) products decides to use polyethylene.
According to Gustaf Thulin’s family, he designed this bag to help the planet.
At that time, paper bags were used a lot, and this involved the felling of a considerable number of trees.
A problem that was creating profound difficulties for the planet’s ecosystem.
Thulin’s idea was to create a bag that was strong, lightweight and could be used dozens and dozens of times.
The result was a definite improvement in the situation.
A short report by the BBC talks about this exciting story (you can easily find it on the internet).
So, why are we backing down today?
Why are the problems that will arise from the inevitable deforestation, with all the linked consequences, not taken into account?
And yet, it is global warming that worries us most today.
In the BBC report, some environmental scientists intervene, confirming – as if it was necessary – how much the use of plastic is beneficial for the health of our planet. Unlike the use of wood and its derivatives.
The problem is, as it is evident, in the use we make of it.
This problem concerns not only plastic bags but all products made of these materials.
The polyethylene bag, initially designed to be used for several times, has become the opposite – and I would add, madly – a disposable object.
Perhaps this is because plastic is cheap and therefore, people don’t care much about it.
This lack of awareness is, therefore, the reason why today we have to face with the enormous pollution problem caused by these bags, which are scattered all over the planet, from the deep of the oceans to the tops of the mountains.
Unfortunately, because of this stupid way of thinking, today bags are banned from many countries, and instead, cotton or paper bags are used.
What they do not say, is that this will soon lead to a huge worsening of the situation, especially concerning global warming.
It is well known that paper production requires much more energy and water than plastic.
And cotton bags are even worse.
Growing cotton requires enormous amounts of water, which creates the same problems.
It almost seems – indeed, it is – a joke, since it is absolutely proven that plastic is extremely “cleaner” to manufacture. It takes very little oil – refining waste is used – and very little energy.
According to the UK Environment Agency, to have the same impact on the environment as a plastic bag, a paper bag must be reused at least three times.
Cotton bags, one hundred and thirty-one!
So, who should you believe? What would be the best thing to do then?
Making the wrong choice today could have irreparable consequences for the environment in the future. Not only that, but sooner or later the truth will come out – or rather this absurd and dangerous media campaign will cease – and despite your good faith, you will be judged and accused of being a danger for the environment.
Maybe you had invested all your time and money to follow this “trend”, and suddenly you find yourself with a handful of flies.
I don’t make it a question of ideals, nor of political line-ups.
But the answer is straightforward, and it is the one already suggested in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED).
The right way is “to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs“.
From this point of view, it is clear that the best thing is to reuse as many times as possible the resource with the least environmental impact: plastic.
Now, it is a terrible fact that man has devastated the planet with reckless use of plastic.
But it is true that if the plastic had never existed, our planet would have been on its knees from many by now.
So it has become categorical for all of us to do the same the inventor of the bags did, that he always carried one with him and used it until it was time to recycle it.
Obviously not in a literal sense, but the message is that plastic is not thrown away, it is recycled!
And above all, we must go and collect what we have scattered around the planet.
Fortunately, things are changing today.
Someone is creating companies and consortia to clean up the seas and rivers, creating real business opportunities.
Even the companies that produce consumer goods today are called in the realization of sustainable products, through processes that respect not only people, of course, but also the environment.
Personally, when twenty years ago, I decided to make only polypropylene products – the most sustainable plastic among all the existing ones – I was very clear about this goal.
I am not a hero or a seer. I have only followed the evolution of the times with a critical spirit, keeping myself well informed about the environmental consequences of my work.
And even though I came from a world of paper and cardboard – my parents produced cardboard boxes – I did as Mr Gustav did: I chose what is still today the most sustainable way.
It’s no coincidence that the main pillar of the More Sales with No Hassles methodology are the Polypro stands, which you can soon understand from the name, which material they are made with.
This new methodology is an efficient and sustainable way to help the companies which distribute by retails channel to increase margins, sales, and reduce distribution costs.
If you are involved in sales, distribute your products in the physical channels, and really worried about the environment, I invite you to get to know the More Sales with No Hassles system.
You can receive more information about the method by clicking on this LINK.