11 Types of Plastic Bags Used in Healthcare Packaging

There are strict regulations the medical and pharmaceutical sectors have to comply with when it comes to tamper-proof packaging, waste disposal, and transfer of medicines. Also, the bags in which packaging is done or the waste is disposed need to comply with the regulatory standards set for the concerned state, regarding plastic disposal and recycling. The bags need to be recyclable. There are a number of plastic medical bags or pharmacy bags used in these two sectors for various applications ranging from dressing disposal waste bags, specimen bags, and adhesive closure bags to bedside and respiratory setup bags. This post discusses various types of plastic bags used in the healthcare sector for packaging and disposal among others.

Types of Plastic Bags Currently Used in Healthcare Packaging

Based on the purpose and contents, there are various types of medical bags available. Here are some of them:

  • Adhesive Closure Bags: This is a non-printed bag with a two-wall construction. They are used to enclose adhesives and have a tamper-evident perforation for easy access.
  • Bedside Bags: These bags have two adhesive strips and can be attached to bedside tables. They are use in hospitals or care centers and are convenient for patients.
  • Dressing Disposal Bags: This is red-colored non-printed bag made of high-density plastic. They are used to discard wound dressings.
  • Specimen Bags: These bags come with the “hazard” mark and are ideal to transfer specimens from hospitals to labs. They have a three-wall construction and an outer pouch which helps accommodate the related documentation.
  • Pharmacy Bags: These extremely durable bags are made from high-density polyethylene. They are robust and have a latex-free adhesive tape closure. These bags are opaque white and hence help with the patient’s privacy.
  • Respiratory Setup Bags: These bags have drawstrings and are used to carry respiratory equipment such as endothelial tubes and bag valve masks.
  • Sterilization Bags: These are green tinted bags used for gas sterilization of various equipment and components.
  • Waste Bags: These are linear low density liners with sealed bottoms. They protect the user or handler from the contents inside. They display the biohazard symbol and warnings in prevalent languages such English and Spanish. They are used to carry and dispose infectious waste.
  • Ziplock-Reclosable Bags: They have a reclosable seal and are used to carry drugs or small medical tools and equipment. The printing is done as per the requirement. For instance, these bags may carry information such as “refrigerate”, lab specimen”, Narcotic Drug”, or anything relevant depending upon the use.
  • Water Soluble Bags: These bags are environmentally friendly and are used to transfer contaminated linen to the laundry. This reduces contact of the medical staff with the laundry stuff and helps maintain hygiene. These bags are completely soluble in water at a temperature of 140° F. They can withstand dirty and moist linen for hours, without damaging them.
  • Transfer Bags: These bags have a tamper-evident seal closure. They come with an integrated perforation for easy tearing. Extremely strong adhesives are used for this seal closure. They are used to safely transfer or transport the required drugs from the pharmacy to the site where they are needed. They are labeled accordingly.

Legal Norms for Medical Bags by WHO

It is crucial that plastic medical bags, specimen bags or pharmacy bags should be free of contamination. Hence, the quality of these bags is crucial. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), here are some of the norms all the manufacturers of such bags need to comply with:

  • The bags should protect the contents within from the external environment.
  • They should be sterile and totally free of dirt and biological contamination.
  • They should carry the correct product identification and information.
  • The packaging material should be non-reactive and not react with either the internal contents or the outside environment.
  • The packaging itself should not in any way damage the product.
  • The plastic packaging should protect the product against light, moisture, physical damage, oxygen, and temperature variations.
  • They should be able to retain the purity, strength, and quality of the contents inside.

Aside this, there are different norms for labeling of the drugs or other contents on the bag. Some of the mandatory information which should be printed on the bags includes drug name, batch number, list of active ingredients, special storage conditions, expiry date, name and address of the manufacturer, and so on.

If you are in the healthcare sector and looking for a safe waste disposal without harming the environment, ensure you use good-quality plastic bags that meet the norms of the concerned regulatory body in the state. Also, make sure you source these bags from a reliable manufacturer and supplier such as Universal Plastic.