Skip to content
Home > Recycle > Plastic Bags Recycling
Plastic Bags Picture By rubyreusable on Flckr orginal at

Plastic Bag Recycling

While it's always best to bring your own reusable bag, plastic carryout bags are recyclable in your blue bin as well as at all supermarkets and large retailers with a pharmacy.

Collection at large stores is California law!

Before we get into recycling, remember that reusable bags are the best! We used over 100 billion plastic shopping bags in the US alone in 2008 (Source US International Trade Commission). If everyone used a reusable bag each time they shopped, we could reduce this number dramatically.

We can recycle plastic bags in our Blue Bin now?

Great news everybody! In all of Santa Barbara County, plastic bags can now be recycled in your curbside blue bin or recycling dumpster. This includes grocery bags, sandwich bags, and even bubble wrap (which can also be reused). Tell all your friends to add these types of plastics to their recycling bin:

  • Grocery bags
  • Retail bags
  • Newspaper bags
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • Sandwich bags
  • Bread bags
  • Produce bags
  • Snack bags
  • Non-waxy cereal bags
  • Bubble wrap

IMPORTANT NOTE!  Please do not place any bio-based or compostable bags in your blue bins.  These types of bags interfere with the recycling of conventional plastics.

Should I bundle my bags together?

It depends.  If Waste Management is your trash and recycling hauler, yes, it's best to bundle your bags together in one bag (i.e. "bag in a bag").  If MarBorg is your service provider, you can leave the bags loose.

What about food contamination?

From a recycler's standpoint, clean, dry plastic is most preferable. It's easiest to work with and most likely to be used as feedstock for new products. If your plastic bag or container is really dirty and can't be easily rinsed, please trash it.

California's Plastic Bag Law

AB 2449, passed in 2006, requires all grocery stores and large retailers to accept plastic carryout bags for recycling. The collection kiosks should be placed where customers can easily see and use them. Read more about this law on CalRecycle's website.

The following types of bags are collected at grocery stores:

  • Grocery bags
  • Bread bags
  • Retail bags (hard plastic handles removed)
  • Newspaper bags
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • All clear bags labelled #2 and #4

All bags must be clean, dry, and free of residue.

Why do people dislike plastic bags?

Plastic bags are often the target of environmental movements because they are so lightweight, easily carried by the wind, easily eaten by animals, and do not degrade naturally. They are a permanent object made for only minutes of use.

Where to go?

Find more information at

If your business collects bags, please contact us and we'll include you in future listings on our site.

Where to go