Zero Waste Tip: How to Recycle Your Plastic Bags

We’re all about banning the bag and using reusable options where possible. But even those leading a dedicated zero waste lifestyle run into instances where products come in a plastic film – such as the wrapper around toilet paper. When you are faced with a situation where you can’t avoid plastic packaging, what do you do to prevent sending less to the landfill?
Recycling capabilities vary per location, but a standard for most recycling sites is an inability to process plastic bags and plastic films. These materials tangle up the sorting line and cause issues in the recycling process – this is why it is so important to sort your recyclables loosely in your curbside bin rather than bagging them.  This leaves plastics such as bags from online orders, dry cleaning bags and plastic wraps such as those around paper towels and diapers to be doomed to the landfill. But did you know, these materials can be recycled in their own way? 

At the proper facility, these items can be used to make composite lumber for decks, benches, and playground sets. Plastic film can also be reprocessed into small pellets, which can be made into new bags, pallets, containers, crates, and pipes. Recycling materials provide valuable materials for American manufacturers and we encourage you to continue recycling when and where possible.

Our friends at and the Flexible Film Recycling Group coordinate local plastic bag pick up in neighborhoods across the country. Take a look at your local collection sites on their webpage.*
We do want to note that due to the ever-changing conditions, stores may be temporarily pausing or discontinuing their programs for the collection of plastic bags/wraps at this time. They do their best to maintain up-to-date listings but please confirm with your local collection site before going to recycle your plastic bags and wraps.

Unfortunately, plastic bags are seeing a resurgence during this COVID-19 pandemic with many stores preventing the use of reusable bags as a safety precaution. We urge you to collect your bags/wraps at home until events change. Luckily, bags/wraps can be compressed and stored inside another plastic bag for easy storage until recycling is possible.

Thank you for your effort in living a sustainable lifestyle – every little change and choice makes a difference!

*As always, please follow the direction of your local and state public health officials, and do not shop or take anything to a store/drop-off if there’s reason to suspect anyone in your household has been exposed to the coronavirus.