While not all plastic bags are recyclable, it is still highly recommended that you recycle as many as you can to help reduce plastic pollution; by recycle and reusing plastics, you’re contributing to saving our seas and oceans from other plastic waste.
Can you recycle plastic bags? Are plastic chip bags recyclable?
If you have been thinking about how plastic affects the environment, you’ve probably thought a lot about single-use plastics, or plastics that are used exactly once and are discarded forever. Today’s blog will cover facts about recycling plastic bags and what to do with old plastic bags.
What Kind of Plastic Bags Can Be Recycled?
A variety of plastic bags can be processed by recycling facilities. Some of these plastic bags include shipping envelopes, bubble wrapping material, plastic covering materials, wraps used for keeping newspapers and magazines dry, bags used for carrying produce, liners found in cereal boxes, bread bags, Ziploc bags, and similar food liners and envelopes, and all kinds of plastic shopping bags from any store.
Be sure to remove the receipts from your plastic shopping bags and remember – all the plastic bags have to be clean. If even one bag has additional trash or paper, you’re going to end up contaminating the entire batch for recycling. The bags must be super dry and clean before being passed on to the recycling facility.
How Do You Dispose of Plastic Bags?
The best approach for plastic bags is to reduce your dependence on them. You are carrying reusable bags when grocery shopping or buying meals on the road can already cut down your plastic bag use by over 50% or more. On top of the effort to reduce your use of plastic bags, you can help your local recycling facility by sorting your plastic bags.
Many curbside recycling bins don’t accept plastic bags because they’re a pain to sort, and many facilities don’t have the personnel nor the extra time to sort, clean, and recycle bags. Therefore, do not include those plastic bags if the facility can’t handle them in the first place. If the facility does accept bags, review the facility guidelines on how to sort and bag those extra plastic bags for recycling properly.
It would help if you avoided what recycling facilities call “wish cycling” or simply adding materials to the recycling bin, hoping that the facility can figure out what to do with them. The problem with this approach is if the facility is not equipped to handle the plastic, there’s no way that they’re going to be able to recycle in the first place. Any bad plastic bits in the batch will wrap around the machinery, and this can cause problems during the recycling process. There are instances when workers in the recycling facility have to shut down all the machines to remove all of the bad plastic bags.
You might be wondering – if plastics, in general, last for centuries, then surely, they can be thrown together and recycled all at once, right? Wrong. Plastics of the same type have to be sorted, classified, and grouped before recycling. It’s not possible to recycle different kinds of plastic all at the same time. Not all plastics are recycled, either, because of cost issues.
A recycling facility has to sell recycled plastic to factories to recoup costs. It’s often too expensive to ship recycled plastic to factories, especially if the factories are overseas.
On the other hand, factories have to make sure that all their purchases are profitable and do not impede their profit margin. Suppose virgin plastic is cheaper to produce or buy elsewhere. In that case, factories will not be interested in buying recycled plastic, which has a reputation for being weaker and having off smells.
Recycling facilities often categorize plastics by number (e.g., 1-7), with each number or step representing a different type of resin. Resins must be sorted properly because plastics have different melting points.
If you mix the wrong plastic in the batch, you’re going to have bits of other plastics sticking out because the temperature was not hot enough. Suppose the facility raises the temperature too much. In that case, this might damage the other plastics, to the point that the plastic is weakened, and the final product becomes less durable and marketable.
Plastic caps aren’t usually recycled because they are made from too many different resin types, and even one wrong resin in a batch of plastic can render the entire pile useless. This is because the wrong resin will eventually combine with the other plastics, causing physical integrity problems.
Are Plastic Garbage Bags Recyclable?
Not all plastic bags are recyclable. Recyclability is determined primarily by the availability of recycling facilities, staff, local codes on recycling, etc. Many things go into recycling that it’s not as simple as combining plastic items in a large bin and having the facility pick them up. Plastic bottles are the easiest to recycle as they are marked on the bottom with either a one or two. One or two marks what type of plastic or resin it is, making it easier for people to place them in the correct bin at curbside deposits simply. Nearly all plastic bottles can be recycled.
How to recycle plastic bags at home?
There are many ways to recycle plastic bags at home:
- Use plastic strips as a cushion when reupholstering chairs and sofas.
- Plastic bags can be used as cushioning materials when shipping items.
- Use plastic bags as cushioning for pillows when they need more filling materials.
- Plastic strips and glue can be used to create beads for crafts. Combine different plastic bags and colors for the best results.
- Use plastic bags as floor and furniture shields when painting. Plastic bags are great covers for the patio if you don’t want splotches of paint everywhere.
Can Bread Bags Be Recycled?
Yes, bread bags can be recycled. Check with your local MRF to how to help them sort. Bread bags are usually recycled alongside magazine and newspaper envelopes and shipping envelopes made of plastic.