Can You Recycle Garbage Bags?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when starting to recycle is bagging your recyclables up in a garbage bag. Even though garbage bags are made of plastic that can technically be recycled, most facilities do not accept garbage bags for recycling.

Can You Recycle Garbage Bags?
Can You Recycle Garbage Bags?

Garbage bags should not be recycled. The material itself is recyclable, but it can get stuck in machines which can damage them or make them unusable for recycling other materials.

For this reason, you should not recycle garbage bags unless you live in a rare community that accepts them. Even though garbage bags are not suitable for regular recyclable pickup, you have other recycling options. Read on to find out more about recycling garbage bags and other plastic bags.

Short Answer: No

If you are wondering whether or not you can recycle garbage bags, the short answer is no. You cannot recycle garbage bags. Most communities will not accept garbage bags within their recycling facilities, and they will not accept bagged recyclables. It is best to avoid putting garbage bags in your recycling bin for pick up.

Putting your recyclables in a plastic garbage bag or any other plastic bag almost always goes straight to the landfill in most recycling facilities. If you want your recyclables to be recycled, do not put garbage bags in or around the recycled materials.

Why Garbage Bags Are Not Recyclable

The reason that you cannot recycle garbage bags is not because of the material. In fact, the material used to make garbage bags is technically recyclable. Recycling garbage bags is more trouble than it’s worth, though.

Garbage bags and other plastic bags can get stuck within the machines that are used for recycling. This means that garbage bags and other similar materials will damage the machine so that they either have to be fixed or are unable to recycle materials in the first place.

Because of how expensive it is to fix these machines, recycling garbage bags is prohibited by most communities. Even if the bag claims to be recyclable, recycling these materials is simply more trouble than the benefits of recycling garbage bags.

Recycle Garbage Bags

The Exception to the Rule

With that being said, there are special communities that do except bag recyclables. These communities are few in number, but they do exist. You should contact your local facility to see if they require you to bag or not bag your recyclables before setting them out for pickup.

How to Recycle Garbage Bags

Even though most curbside pickups for recycling do not accept plastic bags and wraps, you can still recycle these materials. The plastic they are made out of is recyclable. To recycle garbage bags, it is best to recycle them at a Store Drop-Off.

The Store Drop-Off method is a super easy and convenient way to recycle plastic grocery bags, garbage bags, and other plastic bags and wraps that normal curbside pickup does not accept.

All you have to do for this recycling method is to find a Store Drop-Off location near you. You can use this website to find your closest location. Stores like Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, and other large chain stores often have Store Drop-Off locations for plastic recyclables.

You can recycle many items through Store Drop-Off. This includes most plastic bags, plastic wraps, pouches, and air pillows.

Other Uses of Garbage Bags

In addition to dropping a garbage bag off at a Store Drop-Off location, you can also reuse your garbage bags yourself. There are tons of ways that you can reuse garbage bags. Just be creative, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box and get your hands a little dirty. Here are some reuse ideas:

1. Packing

The most common reuse of garbage bags is for packaging valuables. If you plan on moving or relocating items, use old garbage bags instead of packing peanuts to keep your valuables safe from damage.

2. Protect Plants During a Cold Front

You can also make use of old garbage bags if there’s a cold front coming. Protect your plants from frost by tying a garbage bag around them gently. This bag will insulate the plant inside and prevent harsh wind and chill from damaging the leaves and pedals.

3. Make Plarn

Probably the most crafty use of old garbage bags is by making “plarn.” Plarn is like yarn, but it is made from plastic. This is a great way to turn your garbage bags into a crafty knitting or crocheting project.

All you need to do is cut the bag from top to bottom and create loops. Knot the loops so that you can create a strand. From there, you can use the plarn just like you would regular yarn.


Why can’t I recycle plastic bags?

The materials that plastic bags are made out of are often recyclable, but they can easily get caught in the recycling machines, causing a blockage or breakage. This makes recycling plastic bags more trouble than they’re worth.

How do you bag recycling?

If you want to bag your recycling, you should avoid bagging it in plastic containers. Instead, bag your recycling by using an open paper bag. The open bag means that the recyclables will easily spill out, and the paper material will be able to be recycled as well.

What isn’t accepted through the Store Drop-Off?

Biodegradable or compostable bags, candy wrappers, prewashed salad mix bags, and most pet food bags are not accepted for Store Drop-Off.


Even though garbage bags are made from plastic, they normally cannot be recycled because they can get tangled up in the machines used at recycling facilities. This means that you cannot recycle garbage bags or bag your recycling in garbage bags unless you live in one of the rare communities that accept bagged recyclables.

Instead of simply tossing your plastic bags in your garbage, take them to a Store Drop-Off location next time you run errands or go to the grocery store. These Drop-Off locations are often at the most convenient stores, so you can easily recycle plastic bags with little to no hassle.

Just by taking the few minutes, it requires to find a location near you, you can dramatically help the planet and feel like you are contributing to the world positively.