How to Recycle Plastic Bags, Dry Cleaning Bags, Shrink Wrap

Plastic bag recycle bin at our local Stop & Shop

Plastic bag recycle bin at our local Stop & Shop

I try to use cloth bags regularly.  I really do, and I’m getting better at it, especially thanks to some of the tricks I shared in Getting Started – Use Reusable Shopping Bags. However, we all still end up with some plastic bags.  Hopefully you’re like me and end up with a small enough bunch that you find you have uses for just about all of them.   However, try as we might, we still end up with a variety of things made from materials similar to plastic bags  – wrappers on paper towels, packing material in boxes, bags that held parts of kids toys, I’m sure that try as you might, some of these end up in your home.

I was very excited recently read a post by Random Charlotte about a way to recycle these materials!  She links to the website Plastic Bag Recycling  that collects information about many places that take plastic bags and links to them.  At first I thought it was one universal program, but I realized that each place has its own recycling program. 

Typically you can put the following CLEAN  and DRY bags into their receptcals:

  • Grocery bags
  • Retail bags (hard plastic and string handles removed)
  • Paper towel and toilet paper plastic wrap
  • Plastic newspaper bags
  • Plastic dry cleaning bags
  • All clean, clear bags labeled with a #2 or #4

They have one big warning about what to NEVER include. The following are considered contaminants and could jeopardize recycling programs.

Do NOT include the following.

  • NO food or cling wrap
  • NO prepackaged food bags including frozen food bags (e.g., pre-washed salad bags)
  • NO film that has been painted or has excessive glue
  • NO other bags or films
  • NO bio-based or compostable plastic bags

Plastic bag recycling center picture; Look for clearly marked bins at participating grocery and retail stores.I started looking up some of the big retailers in my area that are listed on their site for what their programs are.

Stop & Shop

We accept #02 and #04 plastic shopping bags, dry cleaning bags and newspaper bags. We send them, plus all of our shrink wrap from stores, to our plastics recycling company AERT (Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies Inc.). The plastic becomes composite decking (ChoiceDek at Lowe’s). We have collected millions of pounds of bags for recycling. [Update – this statement is still on Stop & Shop’s site as of Nov 20, 2013]

This is great, and indicates that you can also put in wrappers from around packages of toilet paper & paper towels as well. 

Other grocery stores in our area that have plastic bag recycling containers include: Shaw’s, Whole Foods, Foodmaster and Market Basket.  You might be surprised to find these recycling containers at other kinds of stores as well, including: Staples, Lowes and JC Penny. 

We all know that it’s better to reuse bags and there are many uses for them, but if you can’t reuse them, make an effort to recycle them!

Happy Greening!

Tell us in the comments: Do you recycle plastic bags?  Where?


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  1. Great article. I found you through Momb loggers club Congrats on hitting over 100 followers!

  2. Awesome that this option is available. The best thing though would be if supermarkets just eliminated those plastic bags altogether!

  3. I was so good about using cloth bags the entire time I lived in Hong Kong. Now they just sit collecting dust on the shelves. They are so cute too but US stores make it so easy to use their free plastic ones that once you forget your bags there is no necessity the next time not to forget.

  4. Great article. Thanks for sharing!

  5. This is a great article. It is so good for the environment too.

  6. Recycle them so that you can also help the environment.

  7. Luckily you have to pay for blastic bags in Germany. But even though they are still widely used and people somehow don’t use cloth bags. I don’t get it…
    We simply have to make those bags far more expensive but I guess the stores just like the advertisment space. Politicians have a look at that. It’s so easy to do something for the environment!

  8. It is always a good practice to recycle plastics and other materials so we can help our environment. We need to preserve mother nature to prevent floods and other disasters. I always recycle and reuse plastic bags to help clean our environment. I also use biodegradable plastic bags when shopping.

  9. Interesting post. Everyone must learn how to do simple things like this to help clean our environment. environmental services

  10. You can also put in these containers washed and dried Ziplock bags.

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