Plastic Bag Recycling in Gwinnett

Plastic Bag Recycling in Gwinnett
Plastic Bag Recycling in Gwinnett

You’ve likely seen them: The “Plastic Bag Recycling” drop-off bins located outside of Publix and Kroger, by the checkout lines at Target, in Wal-Mart’s customer service lobby, and at many other local stores. They’re everywhere!

In Gwinnett County, these store drop-off sites are the only way to recycle plastic bags. Don’t put them in your curbside bin! When bags are placed in curbside recycling bins along with our bottles, cans, and containers, they get too dirty and wet to be recycled and can even jam sorting machinery at the recycling facility—a common and costly occurrence. If you’re not ready yet to say goodbye to plastic and make the switch to reusable bags, collecting your grocery and other shopping bags and putting them in these convenient store drop-off bins is a great (and easy) thing to do.

Did you know? Much more than just grocery and shopping bags is welcome in those “plastic bag” recycling bins! Bags are made up of polyethylene plastic—and so are a lot of other items we use every day. In addition to plastic grocery bags, carryout bags, and all other retail bags labeled #2 or #4, bins marked “Plastic Bags” accept the following items:

  • Product packaging wrap (used on paper towels, diapers, toilet paper, water bottles, and more)
  • Furniture wrap
  • Pallet wrap/stretch wrap
  • Newspaper and magazine sleeves
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • Bread bags
  • Produce bags
  • Zip-close food storage bags
  • Bubble wrap and air pillows (deflated)

In general, if the plastic stretches, rather than rips, when you pull it with your fingers, it can be recycled in store Plastic Bag drop-off bins. If it’s wet, dry it before recycling. If there are labels, tape, or adhesive strips on the plastic, remove these first, and don’t worry if they leave a hole.

Not all plastic bags and plastic wraps are recyclable. If it tears like paper or crinkles loudly when you crush it in your hand (think candy wrappers, flower bouquet wrap, or chip bags), it’s not recyclable. If it’s thicker plastic, like pet food bags or bedding bags with a zipper, it’s not recyclable. Frozen food bags and prewashed salad bags are not recyclable. Six-pack rings are not recyclable. Plastic cling wrap is also not recyclable—the chemicals and resins added to make it “clingy” make it too difficult to process. And if it’s dirty, throw it out—even if it’s the right kind of plastic.

Plastic bags are recycled into many different products. Most bags and film are turned into composite lumber for low-maintenance fencing and decking. They’re also reprocessed into small pellets or post-consumer resin to create new bags, pallets, containers, crates, and pipe. Unfortunately, today only about 3% of plastic bags consumed are recycled—a scary statistic when you consider that over one billion plastic bags are used every day.

Do your part: Recycle stretchy plastic!


About Gwinnett Recycles: Gwinnett Recycles is focused on helping Gwinnett County, the second-largest county in the state of Georgia, reduce, reuse, compost, and recycle more material and keep waste out of landfills and the environment. Gwinnett Recycles is run 100% independently by citizen volunteers. To connect with us and support our efforts, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, subscribe to our newsletter, and consider volunteering with us!


  • Mike Goetz Posted January 8, 2020 8:52 am

    I own a grocery store in Iowa and looking for a good bin for recycling plastic bags. Do you know where the ones in this article were purchased. It’s the best I have seen.

    • Laura Posted January 10, 2020 8:00 pm

      I’m sorry, I don’t know where they were purchased. I do know these bins pictured are at Publix Supermarkets. Maybe there is a contact there you could reach out to. Good luck!

  • Deb Posted March 23, 2021 11:09 am

    What about those bags that are often used to cover or hold things during shipping like laptops, accessories, screws, bolts, etc. They often have the number 04 on them inside a recycling symbol, but not always.

    • Laura Posted March 23, 2021 11:42 am

      Yes! If the plastic film stretches and/or is marked with a 2 or a 4 inside the recycling symbol, is is the type of plastic film that can be recycled in plastic bag bins. Those bags that package electronics and baggies that contain small accessories are a great example of recyclable plastic film.


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