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Recycle beyond your plastic bags - recycle all plastic film

A couple of days ago we talked about choosing reusable bags that spark joy so you could avoid using plastic grocery bags. We know everyone is doing a great job with this one, but inevitably plastic bags just have a way of making it into your home and piling up. And we're not just talking about plastic bags that accumulate, think about all those bread bags, plastic case wraps, plastic shipping envelopes, newspaper bags, etc! So how can you dispose of all these plastics in a sustainable manner?

Recycle them at your closest drop-off location!

I hope we all know that these film-type plastics can't be recycled in your curbside recycling bin with the other hard plastics and cardboard. (If you didn't know this, not to worry! We'll be doing an in depth post on the dos and don'ts of recycling soon.) However, lucky for us there are so many conveniently-located film plastic drop off locations these days and most often they're at the entrance of your local grocery store. When we both looked up the available drop-off locations in our areas, we each had between 6 and 12 locations within a five mile radius!

So, exactly what can and can't be recycled at these drop-off locations?

First of all, plastic film (the type of plastic we're talking about and also known as plastic film packaging) is the soft flexible plastic that we see everyday, such as grocery, bread, zip-top and dry cleaning bags. It’s also used to wrap many products including paper plates, napkins, bathroom tissue, diapers, etc. Eve if you're using reusable bags at the grocery store, it's very hard to stay away from all plastics because many of the items we buy (bread for example) are wrapped in this plastic film.

To recycle all of your plastic film, you first need to make sure it is clean and dry, so it won't contaminate the batch. Make sure to remove any receipts from the bags as well. Then, take it to your nearest drop-off location. (This is a great website to find the closest one to you.) You're done! Easy peasy!

Here is a list of examples of items you CAN recycle:

  • Retail, carryout, produce, newspaper, bread, and dry cleaning bags (clean, dry and free of receipts and clothes hangers)

  • Zip-top food storage bags (clean and dry)

  • Plastic shipping envelopes (remove labels), bubble wrap and air pillows (deflate)

  • Product wrap on cases of water/soda bottles, paper towels, napkins, disposable cups, bathroom tissue, diapers, and female sanitary products

  • Furniture and electronic wrap

  • Plastic cereal box liners (but if it tears like paper, do not include)

  • Any film packaging or bag that has the How2Recycle Label shown above

Here is a list of examples of items you CAN'T recycle at drop-off locations:

  • Degradable/compostable plastic film

  • Pre-washed salad mix bags

  • Frozen food bags

  • Candy bar wrappers

  • Chip bags

  • Six-pack rings

And because we know visuals help, here are a few images from to help you remember which plastic film items (in addition to plastic grocery bags) you can drop off to be recycled at location near you!

So get to recycling all the plastic film in your home to get that much closer to living plastic-free!


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