Going Green with CMYK Paper Bags

August 5, 2022  Sponsored by by Delphax Solutions Inc.

In June of this year, the Government of Canada published final regulations to prohibit certain single-use plastics, including plastic checkout bags. In most cases, this will prohibit the manufacture, and import of these items effective December 2022, with businesses required to use up their current inventory of such items by December 2023. Furthermore, there will be a ban on exporting these items from Canada by 2025.

Canada has long been recognized as a leader in environmental causes, and the Government of Canada estimates that these regulations will eliminate as much as 22,000 tonnes of plastic pollution over the next decade, and will virtually eliminate the up to 15 billion bags used by Canadian shoppers every year.

Aside from the obvious environmental benefits that this brings, could there be other opportunities for the printing industry? Delphax Solutions Inc., a manufacturer of inkjet-based printing equipment, located in Mississauga, Ont., believes so.


Plastic bags not only serve as a means to carry goods from the store to a retail consumer’s home, but also provide retail establishments with the opportunity to advertise their business. Higher volume users such as grocery stores and national brand retailers will continue to offer branded reusable bags, and bulk produced paper bags. Low volume users including smaller retailers, take out restaurants, cottage industries, etc., could benefit from short to medium production runs of customized paper bags for their goods. However, the current offerings available are not typically cost effective.

One major online promotional goods provider currently offers one of their personalized rope handled paper bags for between $2.70 and $3.10 per unit (volume dependent), with one design in CMYK across all bags. Another supplier will print on the same style bag in just a single colour, but for a small run of 500 bags, has a plate setup charge of over $0.27 per bag, with each bag costing an additional $0.98 each. The same style bag can be purchased from a Canada wide shipping and industrial goods supplier for less than $0.40 per bag unprinted. Move to bulk suppliers, and the cost of an unprinted bag drops drastically. After that, with a cost effective CMYK inkjet solution to print on these bags, you can offer your customers fully personalized bags with no plate costs using pigment-based inkjet printing, generating substantial margins for your business, while still providing cost savings to your customers.

It’s possible to further increase the value proposition by providing seasonal versions of bags, weekly or monthly version for restaurants to promote special deals, or even create 100 per cent variable bags that allow for competition entries with time limited QR or other codes printed directly on the bag. The options are almost limitless.

Additionally, because you can eliminate the setup/plate fees, you can offer shorter runs allowing retailers and business to reduce their inventory holdings and better manage their cash flow and ensuring repeat business.

Delphax Solutions Inc.’s Elan 170 platform is a CMYK pigment inkjet solution that has already proven itself able to deliver on the promise of an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic bags with the recent installation of an Elan 170, sold by Delphax’s Quebec-based reseller MD International, at Aubry Printing (AUBRY Solutions d’Impression) in Montreal, Que.

Martin Charbonneau, president, MD International, said of the installation, “MD International is proud to have sold and installed a brand new Delphax Elan 170 printing unit to Aubry. The system sold and delivered in March 2022, was easy to install, and the customer was up and running very rapidly with minimal support. Aubry has been producing small to medium size runs of full colour paper bags using Delphax’s Elan 170 with the custom bag feeder which is allowing Aubry to develop a new revenue generating market.”

This Canadian manufactured inkjet solution can not only print on paper bags, but with swappable feeding options, can also print on paper, corrugated, and envelopes further increasing the ROI to any business investing in the system.

Moving to a more environmentally conscious production method can often be a challenging time, especially if trying to recreate the output from a previous process. However, in situations such as the migration from plastic to paper bags, there are opportunities to not only positively affect the environment, but also to provide greater marketing and cost saving opportunities for your customers, while increasing your bottom line.

For more details, contact Delphax Solutions Inc. at 1-833-DELPHAX (1-833-335-7429) or visit

Richard Lee is the CEO of Delphax Solutions Inc.

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