This guide is meant to educate consumers on two types of popular can liners: High Density Can Liners and Low Density Can Liners.  We will go over the differences and help you select the best can liner for your application. Thank you for reading!

Getting Started

If you’re new to the janitorial and sanitation industry, or new to purchasing supplies for your company, you might find that there’s a surprisingly steep learning curve associated with a product you’ve been using your whole life: Can Liners.    Trash can liners sold and used in professional settings do not abide by the same rules as consumer can liners that you buy at the grocery store. Consumer trash cans designed for home use are largely consistent in their dimensions and as such, merely labeling the can liners by gallon capacity is a sufficient sizing method. Trash cans designed for commercial, professional and industrial settings can vary dramatically in physical dimensions, as well as intended contents, requiring can liners that are just as diverse.

Resin – Low Density Vs. High Density

The first thing to consider when deciding on a trash can liner is the resin. High Density trash can liners tend to be clear, buff or opaque in color. They’re the least expensive liners and they feature good weight capacity, however high density can liners will rapidly “unzip” and lose their contents if punctured. High density can liners are well suited for paper and other non-sharp objects, especially if cost is a concern, but may not be a good choice in settings with rough, jagged or sharp refuse. Low density trash liners tend to be black or gray in color. These trash can liners are more expensive than high density liners, but they’re strong and will not “unzip” when punctured. The balanced features of low density can liners make them a preferred choice in applications where refuse may be likely to puncture the bag.


High Density (HDPE) Can Liners

Low Density (LLDPE) Can Liners

Color Usually clear/opaque (natural) sometimes available in black Usually black or grey. Can be manufactured in wide variety of colors.
Cost Least Expensive Higher cost than HDPE
Weight Capacity Best Good
Puncture Resistance Good Best
 Measurement Guage  Micron (Mic) Mil
 Ideal Use & Application Office Waste, Restroom waste.

Shredded paper, wet or bulky trash, food scraps or heavy towels. Non sharp waste

Kitchen, retail, yard waste, outdoor receptacles, recycling bags.

Plastic cutlery, Cardboard, wood, glass or other “jagged” items


Generally, trash liners are measured by 3 physical dimensions: the perimeter or circumference of the opening, the height or depth of the bag, and the gauge or thickness of the plastic. You can measure the receptacle yourself and use that as a guide to sizing your can liners (remember to add several inches to the height to allow for appropriate overhang) or you can check out this helpful guide provided by one of our manufacturers, Republic Bag: HERE.  We have provided a direct link to the image below:


Finally, determine the thickness of can liner which will be necessary for your application. High density trash liners are measured in Mic (short for micron and equal to 1/1000th of a millimeter). Low density trash can liners are measured in Mil (equal to 1/1000th of an inch). The table below can act as a guide to approximate strength equivalents:

High Density (HDPE) Liners

Low Density (LLDPE) Liners


6 Mic 0.4 – 0.45 Mil Light Duty
8 – 10 Mic 0.6 – 0.75 Mil Light Duty
10 – 13 Mic 0.75 – 0.95 Mil Medium Duty
13 – 16 Mic 0.95 – 1.1 Mil Medium Duty
16 – 18 Mic 1.1 – 1.5 Mil Heavy Duty
18 – 25 Mic 1.5 – 1.8 Mil Heavy Duty


In many cases, slightly reducing the thickness of your bag can offer substantial savings without a noticeable difference in performance. We find this is the truest when our customer’s previous suppliers were importing liners from China. Imported liners are rarely the specifications that they say on their labels and their true thickness could be as little as half of what is purported. This fools the end user into thinking they need to pay extra for the thickest liner available when a thinner “honest” liner would do the trick at a fraction of the cost.

If you have more questions about trash liners or other products, contact us today!