This is the Easiest Way to Recycle Plastic Bags

Updated: Jun. 12, 2024

This is the Easiest Way to Recycle Plastic Bags

Bagsvia Emilija Miljkovic/Shutterstock

Despite your best efforts to have a reusable shopping bag on you when you’re running errands, an unexpected trip or purchase can end in you being the proud owner of yet another plastic bag. Throwing them in the garbage may seem harmless, but plastic bags aren’t biodegradable, meaning they’ll take hundreds of years to decompose. Your best bet is to take advantage of plastic bag recycling.

The easiest option for plastic bag recycling is to take them back to the store. Most national grocery retailers, including Target, Walmart and Whole Foods, as well as department stores like JCPenney and Kohl’s, and home improvement stores including Home Depot and Lowe’s, offer a bag collection bin onsite. You can simply type in your zip code here to find out the options nearest you. There may some retail locations that have a different policy regarding what they will accept for recycling, so always check first. Find out if plastic bags are recyclable.

Along with harboring a plastic bag in your home, you likely have plenty of other plastic packaging that could be recycled, as well.

While plastic bags, wraps and films can’t be recycled in your curbside recycling bins in most communities in the U.S., any package that you see with the How2Recycle Store Drop-Off label can be recycled by bringing it to the local retail stores mentioned above.

While grocery and produce bags are obvious qualifiers, you may be overlooking other flexible plastics made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and low-density polyethylene (LDPE), such as bread bags, some plastic wraps, some plastic mailers and some cereal bags.

Smaller plastic bags may go unnoticed, like newspaper bags and zipper sandwich bags. These can be also recycled through Store Drop-Off. Stretchy plastic wraps, like those around multi-packs of drink bottles and paper towels, can also be brought to your nearest How2Recycle retailers.

There’s one very important step of plastic bag recycling to remember! Be sure what you drop off is clean. That means removing receipts, gum, produce leaves and other debris. Happy recycling! Have you ever wondered what happens once you toss that plastic bottle in a recycling bin? Get to know the life cycle of recycled plastic.