Store Drop-off

Plastic bags, wraps, and films can’t be recycled in your curbside recycling bins. But, you can take some of these items to local retail stores where they collect plastic grocery bags for recycling. Any package that you see with the How2Recycle Store Drop-off label can be recycled this way.

What can be recycled through Store Drop-Off?

Certain flexible plastic packages can be recycled through Store Drop-off locations. Look for the How2Recycle Store Drop-off label on flexible plastics made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and low-density polyethylene (LDPE), including grocery and produce bags, some bread bags, some plastic wraps, some plastic mailers, some cereal bags, and more.

Many Plastic Bags and Pouches

Many plastic bags, like grocery bags, produce bags, newspaper bags, zipper sandwich bags, and some cereal bags can be recycled through Store Drop-off. Many pouches in the marketplace today are also eligible for Store Drop-off. If the pouch or bag has had contact with food or other sticky, oily substances, be sure that it is clean and dry before dropping it in the bin.

Most Plastic Wraps

Many plastic wraps, like the wrap around paper towels, diapers, and multi-packs of bottles can be recycled through Store Drop-off. Just like other Store Drop-off items, be sure that it is clean and dry before dropping it off.

Bubble wrap and Air Pillows

Some bubble wrap and air pillows carry the How2Recycle label and can be recycled through Store Drop-off. To save space in the bin, be sure to deflate bubble wraps and air pillows. 

Where can I bring my Store Drop-off packages?

Many retailers have Store Drop-off collection bins at the front of their stores, including Target, Publix, Walmart, Albertsons, and Wegmans! Wherever you see a plastic bag recycling bin in retail stores, you can also recycle the other items mentioned above. You do not need to take these items back to the same place where you bought them. Even if you purchased the packages online, you can still take them to any retail store with a plastic bag recycling bin.

Find a Store Drop-off location near you.

Why can’t I put bags in my curbside recycling bin? [For US residents only.]

Unless you live in one of the few communities in the U.S. that accepts plastic bags, wraps, and films in curbside recycling, you must take them to the store for recycling, no matter what the claims on the package may suggest. These bags, wraps, and films get tangled up in the equipment in facilities that serve curbside recycling programs, causing problems for recyclers. After this, they are landfilled. Make sure flexible packages don’t make their way into your curbside recycling bin! They go through an entirely separate recycling stream after entering the Store Drop-off bin.

What is NOT recyclable through Store Drop-off?

Not all flexible plastic packages can be recycled through Store Drop-off. When you take your items to the store, you should not include any:

  • Biodegradable or compostable bags
  • Most metallized chip bags
  • Paper-lined bags
  • Mailers, bags, pouches, and wraps with attached paper labels
  • Flexible plastics with rigid attachments
  • Packages with a Not Yet Recyclable How2Recycle label

If you don't see the item listed above and you don't see the How2Recycle label, don't include it in Store Drop-off recycling to make sure you aren't contaminating the bin. 

What does “Recycle if Clean & Dry” mean?

Plastic bags, pouches, wraps, and films need to be clean and dry when you place them in a store's bin. This means no crumbs, no food residue, and no liquid inside. You don’t need to rinse out and air-dry each and every bag, but if there are crumbs, shake them out. If the bag is damp, let the water evaporate before stuffing it into the bin. And if there’s a lot of food residue that doesn’t come off easily, it is best to not recycle it.

What about the "1-7" numbers?

Some communities use Resin Identification Codes, often misidentified as “recycling numbers,” to communicate what types of plastic they will accept. For example, flexible plastic packages with #2 or #4 are usually good to go in the Store Drop-off bin. But these numbers don’t always tell the full story about recycling. Even if your community says they accept “#2 and #4 plastics” in curbside bins, although it’s confusing, they are referring to rigid plastics like bottles and jugs. You should not try to recycle your bags, wraps, and films curbside. If you see the How2Recycle Store Drop-Off label on a package, you know that How2Recycle has confirmed the package can be recycled through Store Drop-off.

What happens to these flexible plastics after I place them in the Store Drop-off bin?

After they’re collected at a Store Drop-off location, the bale is sold to independent companies. These companies will remove any mistaken contamination (like metals, rigid plastics, food scraps, and more) and will start the process of recycling the LDPE and HDPE films into their next iteration: pelletized recycled plastic. What was once a pouch, bag, wraps, or film may be turned into synthetic lumber for decking or park benches, or they might be recycled directly into another film, pouch, or bag form. How2Recycle highly encourages members to source recycled content for flexible plastic items, to encourage the end market of the Store Drop-off stream. 

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