Not all plastic bags have to end up in the landfill. In this post, I’ll share how to recycle plastic bags and why you should.
I know that recycling alone won’t solve our waste problem so I try to reduce the amount of packaging I bring home. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s unavoidable and I end up buying products we need that are packaged in plastic bags.
Why Recycle Plastic Bags
I get it, plastic bags – whether for shopping or packaging – are convenient, but consider these facts about plastic bags:
- Every year, around 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. Of those 500 billion bags, about 100 billion are consumed in the United States alone.
- According to Waste Management, only 1 percent of plastic bags are returned for recycling. That means that the average family only recycles 15 bags a year; the rest end up in landfills or as litter.
- It takes 500 (or more) years for a plastic bag to degrade (not completely) in a landfill.
- Plastic bags make their way into the environment as litter. They can be seen hanging from the branches of trees or flying in the air on windy days.
- Animals and sea creatures are hurt and killed every day by discarded plastic bags. They are mistaken for food or they can become entangled causing injury or death.
Which Plastic Bags Can Be Recycled?
Fortunately, the news about plastic bags isn’t all bad. It turns out there are quite a few types of plastic bags that can be recycled. It’s way more than just those plastic shopping bags – which you have responsibly replaced with reusable bags anyway, right?! 🙂
Here is a quick overview:
- Retail, Newspaper, Dry Cleaning, Bread, Produce, and also other Plastic Bags labeled #2 and #4
- Zip Close Food Storage bags (clean and dry)
- Furniture and Electronic wrap
- Plastic cereal box liners (if it tears like paper do not include)
- Plastic shipping envelopes, including Tyvek ®, bubble wrap and air pillows (remove labels and/or deflate)
- Product Wrap (used on paper towels, diapers, bathroom tissue, water bottles)
- Any film packaging or bag that has the How2Recycle label
That’s a pretty extensive list, right?
Currently, putting any of those into the trash? Well, now you don’t have to! Just do your best to get into the habit of separating them out to be recycled.
For more info about the type of plastic bags that CAN be recycled, check out plasticfilmrecycling.org
Sorting Plastic Bags
I find the easiest way to recycle plastic bags is to sort them just like any other item I’m keeping out of the landfill trash – sort as I go. It’s simple and it doesn’t take up much space!
I just use a recyclable plastic bag hung inside a kitchen cabinet to collect all the plastic bags. Once it’s full – and I can no longer shut the cabinet door – I’ll take the whole thing off to the collection bin.
Now remembering to actually take it from my car to the drop off bin is a habit I am still working on! My kids usually start complaining about having to sit among the plastic bags in the car which is my reminder to get them out! 🙂
How To Recycle Plastic Bags
Unfortunately, many communities don’t accept plastic bags in their curbside collection – mine included.
This means you have to put in the extra effort into dropping them off somewhere to be recycled. The good news is that there are lots of plastic bag recycling bin drop off locations. I bet you’ve walked by one a million times!
To find the most convenient location for you, check out this location finder.
Mine is the grocery store I visit multiple times a week!
Plastic bag recycling is SO easy! It really is as simple as tweaking one small habit!
Now that you know how to recycle plastic bags all you have to do is put that next plastic bag into your super easy to set-up plastic bag recycling bin!! And since it’s SO easy, why not do it??
No big changes! It’s just your family only greener!!
For the longest time all I recycled was the plastic grocery bags. Once you take it a step further, it’s amazing how many types of “plastic” fall in to the plastic bag list. What do you do if you can’t get a sticker off a bag? Do you cut it out and then recycle what’s left? That’s what I’ve started doing b/c I wasn’t sure.
Yep, I cut off the sticker and recycle whatever is leftover! I emailed someone at plasticfilmrecycling.org and you got it right!