Currently the back of my car contains three pillow-sized sacks of plastic bags and packaging, just waiting for me to swing by my local supermarket so that I can drop them off in a soft-plastics recycling collection bin.
If you’re pretty conscientious about recycling, like me, you probably already know that plastic bags and other soft plastics should not go into most curbside recycling bins. Instead, these materials can be dropped off in collection bins, usually found at supermarkets, hardware stores, recycling centers, and other locations (search for a location near you on PlasticFilmRecycling.org).
I’m always wondering, though, what can and cannot go in those drop-off bins. What about the thin, pliable bags my bread comes in? The saran wrap left in my kids’ lunch box? It looks like Recyclebank readers have the same sorts of questions — we get a lot of reader mail asking for recycling advice on various food packages and other flexible plastic. I’ve done the research for you, so now you can refer to this post to clear up as much confusion as possible about the various types of plastic you encounter, and whether they can be recycled.
A quick note about recycling soft plastics: The most important thing is to make sure it is clean (that means no food residue), dry, and empty. Even a single paper receipt inside a grocery bag will slow down the process or contaminate the plastic.
Without further ado, here’s your guide to what’s recyclable in your nearest soft-plastics drop-off bin:
1. Dry Cleaning Bags
2. Produce Bags
3. Grocery and Retail Bags
4. Plastic Wrappers (like those from toilet paper, diapers, paper towels)
Note: If it tears like paper, it’s not recyclable.
Note: Pop the bubbles and pouches first.
7. Plastic Shipping Envelopes
9. Bread Bags
10. Newspaper Bags
1. Food Wrap (cling wrap)
2. Cellophane (like from flowers or gift baskets)
3. Frozen Food Bags
4. Pretzel and Potato Chip Bags
5. Biodegradable Produce Bags (often recognizable by their greenish tint)
Note: These bags are better suited for compost collection.
6. Salad and Greens Bags, Food Packages
Note: They might be accepted by your curbside program — check with your hauler.