Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Frequently Asked Questions about Plastic Bag and Film Plastics Recycling

What is the definition of "a store" under the law?

A store means a retail establishment or a chain store that provides plastic carry out bags to its customers as a result of the sale of a product. Retail establishments with more than 10,000 square feet of retail space and chain stores (defined as a retail establishment under common ownership and management engaged in the same general field of business that operates five or more units with more than 5,000 square feet of retail space) are included.

For chain stores, does the law apply to all stores in the chain or only those stores with more than 5,000 square feet of retail space?

The law applies to all stores in the chain.

What about Shopping Malls?

The owner of an enclosed shopping mall is required to place recycling bins at reasonable intervals throughout the mall. Large mall stores (50,000 square feet or more of retail space) are required to establish their own film plastics bag recycling programs.

What is the new amendment to the Law?

Retail stores covered by this Law are required to accept the following materials starting March 1, 2015:

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 wrap from paper products (paper towels, toilet paper, etc.)
Plastic stretch/shrink wrap with all food residue removed
Plastic zipper-type bags

(Note: All materials must be clean and dry)

These items may be accepted:

Plastic bubble wrap
Plastic air pillows found inside shipping packages
Plastic shipping envelopes
Plastic from pellet bags with all residue removed

BUT These Items Can Not be Recycled With Plastic Bags:

Plastic bags with strings, rigid plastic handles, or food residue
Plastic soil or mulch bags
Plastic frozen food bags
Plastic food containers
Plastic bottles

What about Biodegradable, Compostable Bags?

Compostable bags cannot be recycled. They must be labeled "COMPOSTABLE BAG - DO NOT PLACE IN RECYCLING BIN"

What about Reusable Bags?

The store must make reusable bags available for purchase and allow customers to use reusable bags in lieu of plastic or paper bags.

What is the definition of a Reusable Bag?

A reusable bag is made of cloth or other machine washable fabric that has handles or is a durable plastic bag with handles made for multiple use.

Do stores need to maintain records of the materials that are recycled?

Record keeping will be required for the life of this law. Stores must retain, at a minimum, three years of records at the store. Records need to describe the collection, transportation and recycling of film plastics, including the weight of plastics collected and where they are recycled.

What recyclers accept plastic bags?

Find a recycling solution at, (link leaves DEC's website) an organization supported by the American Chemistry Council with a goal to double plastic film recycling.

Please Note: This vendor list is by no means complete or comprehensive. Inclusion of a service in this list does not constitute approval or endorsement of that company by the NYSDEC, or provide any assurances with regard to the quality of services provided. Their environmental compliance has not been authenticated. Please contact the vendor to find out all pertinent information including costs. More listings will be found by searching the web.

Here are companies that have a collection program for small quantity retail stores:

North Shore Recycled Fibers

Poly-Pak Industries, Inc.

g2revolution, LLC

Are stores responsible for ensuring that film plastics are properly recycled?


How can stores ensure that film plastics are recycled?

Stores should contact their waste/recycling hauler to get assurances that plastic bags are properly handled and recycled.

Would using film plastics as a fuel source qualify under this law as recycling?

No. In New York State, recycling does not include conversion to energy. Therefore, incorporating plastic bags into fuel products will not qualify as recycling under this law.

If I bring my film plastics back for recycling, does that mean I am getting used bags at the check out?

No. All film plastics collected in this program will be sent to a recycling facility to be manufactured into a new product like composite lumber, trash can liners or new plastic bags.

I think my store is covered by the law, but there are no collection bins for film plastics. What should I do?

If film plastics collection containers are not available in a regulated store, please email DEC at or call (518) 402-8706. Please provide the store name, street address and city.