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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has added a link to a translation service developed by Microsoft Inc., entitled Bing Translator, as a convenience to visitors to the DEC website who speak languages other than English.

Additional information can be found at DEC's Language Assistance Page.

Plastic Bag Recycling for Consumers

Consumers will be able to recycle plastic carryout bags at certain retail stores and most grocery stores. Stores must make collection bins for plastic bag recycling available to customers in a visible, easily accessible location. If plastic bag collection containers are not available in a regulated store, please email recycling@dec.ny.gov or call (518) 402-8706. We will need the store name and location.

What are Acceptable Plastic Bags for Recycling?

The law requires that stores collect plastic carryout bags. In addition to those bags, must programs will accept:
Note: All materials must be clean and dry

Plastic grocery bags
Plastic retail bags with string ties and rigid plastic handles removed
Plastic newspaper bags
Plastic dry-cleaning bags
Plastic produce bags with ALL food residue removed
Plastic bread bags with ALL food residue removed
Plastic cereal bags with ALL food residue removed
Plastic frozen food bags with ALL food residue removed
Plastic wrap from paper products (paper towels, etc)
Plastic salt bags with rigid plastic handles removed
Plastic stretch/shrink wrap with all food residue removed
Plastic zipper type bags WITHOUT rigid plastic closing mechanism

What are UNACCEPTABLE Plastics Bags?

Plastic bags with strings or rigid plastic handles
Plastic bags with food residue
Plastic soil or mulch bags
Plastic zipper type bags with rigid plastic closing mechanism
Plastic bubble wrap
Plastic food containers
Plastic bottles

Why Recycle Plastic Carryout Bags?

By recycling plastic bags, you can provide valuable materials to manufacturers of plastic lumber, plastic bags and other useful products. Using bags as feedstock, in place of virgin plastics, reduces our demand for oil. In addition, recycling bag help reduce waste and litter which means cleaner streets and waterways, and less materials in the landfill. Plastic bags can also be dangerous to animals that ingest them or are strangled by them.

All the bags collected in this program will be sent to a recycling facility to be manufactured into a new product like composite lumber or new bags.

What are Alternatives to Single Use Plastic Grocery Bags?

Instead of using a plastic grocery bag, you can:

  • Use canvas, cloth or a durable plastic bag made for multiple use. Reusable bags are more environmentally friendly than paper or plastic. Under the law, any store required to recycle plastic bags must also sell reusable bags. Keep them in your car for the next time you have to run out for groceries.
  • Say "No thank you." Not all items require a bag so tell the clerk, "No thank you." Carry small purchase items like a magazine, one piece of candy, or drink to the car instead of in a plastic bag.
  • Reuse them. There are many great uses for plastic carryout bags such as trash can liners in the home, for doggie waste or to use again at a retail store. Get creative and find new ways to reuse those bags.
  • Tell a friend. Get others to recycle and use reusable bags. Let them know where they can find them or turn them on to recycling opportunities at their nearest grocery store.

  • Contact for this Page
  • NYSDEC Bureau of Solid Waste, Reduction & Recycling 625 Broadway Albany, NY 12233-7253
    Send us an email
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  • Page applies to all NYS regions