How to Recycle Plastic Bags

Plastic bags and film packaging are generally #2 and #4 plastic, both of which are recyclable. If you are looking for a location to recycle plastic bags you can scroll to the end of this article and use our recycling locator.

Most plastic bags are recycled into composite lumber, but can actually become a wide variety of products. Drop-off locations for these plastic bags are available all over the country. Some cities and counties do have curbside programs that can accept plastic bags for recycling however before placing your plastic bags in the recycling bin check with your city or county.

Find Recycling Guides for Other Materials

Frequent Plastic Bag Recycling Questions

Plastic bags can be recycled, however, that doesn’t mean they can be placed in your curbside recycling bin. Plastic bags require a specialized collection and processing system separate from other recyclable materials. Check with your city before placing any plastic bags or films in your curbside bin.
Though commonly debated, many are surprised to find out that compared to paper, plastic grocery bags can be a resource-efficient choice. Plastic grocery bags require 70 percent less energy to manufacture than paper bags. And produce half the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the process, according to the Plastics Industry.

Though efficient to produce, it is crucial that plastic bags be reused and recycled. Plastic bags don’t biodegrade quickly and can cause problems for wildlife when disposed of improperly.

Most grocers and large retailers such as Target and Walmart now accept plastic bags, wrap and film for recycling. Look for a bin near the front of the store or check for local recycling options nearest you.
About 85 percent of plastic bags used in the United States are American-made and come from natural gas, not foreign oil, according to According to the Plastics Industry,less than .05% of a barrel of oil goes into making all of the plastic bags used in the US.