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Can I recycle plastic bags?

 No plastic bags in the recycling cart. Do not bag recyclables. Collecting recyclables in a bag? Empty the contents into the cart. Return plastic bags to retailers. Yes! But never in blue-bin mixed recycling. Bags get stuck in the recycling-sorting machines, which can be dangerous for workers.

Some recycling centers and grocery stores have a special bin for certain clean and dry plastic bags. Ask your local waste district or town if there are options near you or look for a drop-off at

Which plastic bags can I recycle at drop-offs?

Only recycle empty, clean, and dry plastic bags, no matter where you bring them. Grocery stores and recycling centers may accept different bags, so read on for specifics. If you’re not sure whether a bag is accepted for recycling, ask for help or throw the bag in the trash so you don’t contaminate the bin.

At recycling centers, ask what types of bags they take and how to prepare the bags for recycling.Recycle your empty, clean, dry plastic bags and film packaging at grocery store drop-offs.

At grocery stores, only recycle the plastic bag types listed on this poster (image on right) or the recycler's "What Goes in The Plastic Bag Recycling" website. Also,

  • Only bring in small batches of bags. Grocery stores don’t usually have space to accept a large load of bags.
  • Rip or cut off any attached labels (e.g. shipping envelopes or some bread bags).
  • Pellet bags must be cut on both ends and turned inside out or cut on three sides and shaken out. This keeps the bin free of debris.

Do not put these in the plastic bag recycling bin:

  • Pet food or bird seed bags, unless they are labeled with “Store Drop-Off” or #2 or #4
  • Crinkly bags (e.g. grape bags and some bakery bread bags)
  • Food bags not listed on the poster (e.g. chip bags)
  • Dirty food bags (e.g. cheese or meat bags, crumbs, etc.)
  • Compostable bags

What happens to the plastic bags?

Most of the plastic bags collected in recycling drop-offs get made into composite decking.

You can also reuse plastic bags

  • As trash bags. Use larger ones in the kitchen and smaller ones in the bathroom. You’ll save money and reduce your waste!
  • To pick up dog poop or for kitty litter, or to give to a friend for this purpose.
  • For food. If needed, hand wash them. (Tip: dry them on a mini clothesline in the kitchen.) Use them instead of zip bags or bring them to the store for your produce or to buy food from a bulk section.
  • As padding material for shipping boxes.

If you can't reuse a bag, give it to someone else to reuse, or drop it off for special recycling, it goes in the trash.