Are shopping plastic bags recyclable?

Yes, they are. They are one of the few plastics that actually can get recycled back into shopping plastic bags. However is not as simple as throwing your plastic bottle in the recycling bin.

In fact, throwing plastic bags in the recycling bin is a setback for the recycling/sorting company. The plastic bags get stuck in the gears and the entire sorting operation has to be paused to manually remove the bags. Recycling/sorting plants request that plastic bags do not get placed in the recycling bins to avoid these setbacks.

So how can you recycle your plastic bags if you can’t place them in the recycling bin? In the state of Florida, if a grocery store offers shopping plastic bags, they have to provide a way to collect them back to send them to a recycling center that specializes in recycling plastic bags. When the grocery stores send the plastic bags to the specialized recycling centers, they actually go back to becoming new plastic bags, but the saddest part is that only 1% of the plastic bags consumed per year are recycled, according to Waste Management.

If you come across plastic bags you can take them to collection bins in places like Walmart and Publix. Walmart usually has the bing in the interior of the main entrance, while Publix keeps their bins outside the main entrance.

However, there are several things to keep in mind when placing plastic bags in these bins to be recycled. 

  • The shopping bags have to be clean. 
  • The shopping bags have to be dry.

This means that plastic bags used for items that were wet or in the freezers need to be hang-dry. And plastic bags that were used to carry poultry, meats, and fish need to be cleaned and then hang-dried. If any of these plastic bags makes its way to the bins (wet or “dirty”) it will actually damage the entire batch, according to Earth 911.

I personally try to stay away from shopping plastic bags myself, but they always find their way into my home, so it is good to know that there is a way for me to dispose of them in a conscious way.

How many shopping plastic bags do you generate in a week? and how do you used them after removing the groceries, or how do you dispose of them?




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