Solid Waste & Recycling Newsletter

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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Solid Waste & Recycling Newsletter 

Recycling Right NY - Film Plastics

From Bubble Wrap to Bread Bags - The Right Way to Recycle Your Film Plastics

We've all been there - you have a bread bag or grocery bag in your hand and wonder if it can be recycled. The truth is, what we decide to do with these plastics, otherwise known as film plastics, influences recycling programs on a global scale. You as the consumer play a very important first step in the recycling process.

Examples of film plastics include:

  • Bubble wrap, air pillows, and all-plastic envelopes/mailers that protect items during shipping
  • Produce bags, bread bags, grocery bags, and zip top food storage bags
  • Product overwrap (paper towels, bathroom tissue and bulk cases of water wrapped in plastic)
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • Newspaper bags

Film Plastics

How do I recycle film plastics?

Although recyclable, film plastics cannot go in your household recycling bin with bottles, cans, jars and jugs. The flexible lightweight film plastics cause dangerous machinery jams at sorting facilities that are designed to sort containers. Film plastics require their own special recycling programs.

In NY, stores that meet certain criteria are required by law to provide film plastic recycling under the Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling Act. Recycling your film plastics in many cases is as easy as bringing them back to the grocery store to special drop-off bins for recycling. Find a drop location near you

When bringing film plastics to retail drop-off locations be sure they are:

  • Acceptable film plastics to drop off to avoid contaminating the recycling stream
  • Clean and dry
  • Free of any food, residue or debris

What happens after I drop my film plastics off?

When you properly recycle your film plastics at a return to retail drop off location, they can be recycled into composite lumber for making decks, benches, and playground sets. Film plastics can also be reprocessed into small pellets, which can be made into pallets, containers, crates, and pipe. Recycling film plastics converses natural resources, keeps our streets and waterways clean, and protects wildlife.

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Is there a topic you'd like to learn more about or a public event or workshop related to recycling (organics, textiles, traditional recyclables, etc.) you'd like the greater community to know more about? E-mail us at: