Q&A: Can I Recycle Plastic Bags?

Photo by Morgan Vander Hart on Unsplash

Q: Can I recycle plastic bags?

A: This is a question we get asked very often.  From the bags you get with your shopping to the plastic bags, wrap and film that encase many of the items you buy. It is a huge problem that many cities are trying to address with regulations.

The good news is that plastic bags and film are recyclable. The unfortunate news is that they are NOT recyclable everywhere. 

In many other parts of the country, plastic bags CANNOT be placed in recycling bins because the loose bags tend to get caught in sorting machines at recycling facilities, jamming and damaging the equipment.

San Francisco is one exception. The city has made it possible to easily recycle plastic bags and other clean, dry film and flimsy plastic such as plastic wrap. See how it is being done at the W hotel in San Francisco. 

So what can you do?

Today, plastic pollution is a real threat.  Millions of animals die because they ingest plastic bags or become ensnared in plastic packaging and other plastic items. The ocean is filled with trillions of microplastics that end up in seafood that we consume.  One study found that 94% of drinking water samples in the U.S. revealed the presence of plastic fibers! See this analysis of the impact of single-use plastic bags to learn more.

So the next time someone hands you a plastic bag, let’s REFUSE it.

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