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Plastic Bag Recycling

While it's always best to bring your own reusable bag and avoid plastic altogether, plastic carryout bags are acceptable 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. If everyone used a reusable bag each time they shopped, we could reduce this number dramatically.

Secondly, if you do have plastic bags, please bring all the clean ones back to the grocery store. This gives them the best chance to be recycled. Bags placed in curbside recycling bins are easily contaminated with food and may not be marketable enough to be recycled.

Are plastic bags accepted in the blue bin?

Keeping the above points in mind, yes, plastic bags can indeed be placed in your curbside blue bin or recycling dumpster. This includes grocery bags, sandwich bags, and even bubble wrap (which can also be reused). Here's the complete list:

  • 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?

Yes, it's best to bundle your bags together in one bag (i.e. "bag in a bag") to prevent the bags from jamming up the sorting equipment at our local recycling facilities.

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 labeled #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 www.plasticfilmrecycling.org.

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

Where to go