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Plastic Bag and Film Plastics Recycling for Consumers

Did you know plastic bags are a type of film plastic? Film plastics should not be put in household recycling bins and should only be put in film plastics recycling bins (if the material is acceptable). Certain retail stores and most grocery stores in NYS are required to collect film plastics from customers for recycling. Stores must make film plastics recycling collection bins available to customers in a visible, easily accessible location. If film plastics collection containers are not available in a regulated store, please notify us via our online reporting form, by email at or call (518) 402-8706. We will need the store name and location (street, address and city).

A "store" is a retail establishment that currently provides, or at any time prior to March 1, 2020 provided, plastic carryout bags to its customers as a result of the sale of a product, and have over 10,000 square feet of retail space or is part of a retail chain operating 5 or more units with over 5,000 square feet of retail space in New York State.

Fast facts for consumers on recycling plastic bags and other film plastics in NYS. (PDF)

Acceptable Film Plastics for Return to Retail Film Plastic Recycling

Note: All materials must be CLEAN, DRY, and FREE OF RESIDUE. Receipts should also be removed.

The law requires that stores collect film plastics, which include:

  • grocery bags
  • garment bags
  • retail bags with string ties removed
  • newspaper bags
  • dry cleaning bags
  • produce bags
  • bread bags
  • cereal bags (but if it tears like paper, do not include it)
  • over wrap from paper products (paper towels, toilet paper, etc)
  • stretch/shrink wrap
  • zip top food storage bags
  • bubble wrap
  • air pillows (must be deflated)
  • shipping envelopes and bubble mailers (must be all film plastic, labels removed)
  • furniture and electronic wrap
  • ice bags (must be dry)

UNACCEPTABLE Items for Return to Retail Film Plastic Recycling

  • food containers
  • bottles
  • degradable, compostable bags or film packaging
  • salad bags
  • frozen food bags
  • six-pack rings
  • chip bags
  • snack/candy wrappers
  • mulch or soil bags
  • silage and hay bags
  • pet food bags
  • No bags, film, or wrap labeled with #1, #3, #5, #6 or #7

Biodegradable, Compostable Bags

Compostable bags cannot be recycled in film plastics recycling bins or household recycling bins. It is important for manufacturers and retailers to note that compostable bags must be labeled "COMPOSTABLE BAG - DO NOT PLACE IN RECYCLING BIN."

Why Film Plastic Recycling Matters

It is important to learn what types of film plastics are recyclable. (Link leaves DEC's website) When you properly recycle your film plastics at a return to retail drop-off location, they can end up as composite lumber for making decks, benches, and playground sets. Plastic film can also be reprocessed into small pellets, which can be made into new bags, pallets, containers, crates, and pipe. You are also helping to conserve natural resources, keeping our streets and waterways clean, and protecting wildlife by ensuring film plastics are properly handled and recycled and do not end up in the environment or the landfill.