Are Grocery Bags Recyclable? (And Are They Biodegradable?)

Going shopping for your groceries is something that you cannot do without. In fact, it is quite common that most people do so more often than they care to imagine. What this leads to is several bags in your kitchen from your shopping adventure.

Yes, you soon find yourself with several grocery bags. In turn, you are soon wondering what to do with them. Should you just dispose of them in your trash can? Should you consider recycling grocery bags? Can you even recycle them?

Well, we get that these are all questions that you have got on your mind and need answers to. But, the good news is that you do not need to look too far for answers as we have got you covered. In this article, we will tell you all you need to know about recycling your grocery bags.


Can You Recycle Grocery Bags?

Recycling your grocery bag is something you would have considered if you are conscious of environmental protection. However, there is usually some confusion on the issue. So, you are wondering the way to go. Should you get your grocery bag to the recycling center or not.

Well, here is what you need to know.

To determine if your grocery bag is recyclable, you will need to consider the material that it is made from. In some cases, your grocery bag comes from paper materials, and in some other cases from low-density and high-density polyethylene.

In the cases of paper grocery bags, you can usually recycle them. As you know, paper is one of the most recyclable materials out there today. So, you can get your paper grocery bags to the nearest recycling center. Typically, you should have no issue getting them to accept it for recycling.

However, you will need to ensure that the paper grocery bag is clean and free of any form of toxic waste or stain. This is because such a grocery bag can damage the whole pool. So, you will need to ensure that your grocery bag is kept in the best possible condition before taking it for recycling.

Are Plastic Grocery Bags Recyclable?

Beyond this, another question that you might have is whether you will need to fill landfills around with plastic grocery bags. Or whether you can opt for recycling. Well, it is a great thing that you are thinking about protecting your environment. So, here is what you need to keep in mind.

Usually, you can recycle your plastic grocery bags. However, do not for once think that you can just toss them into your recycling can with your cartons and cans. We bet you are wondering why. So, let us get right to it.

When it comes to plastic grocery bags, they usually require a special processing and sorting machine during recycling. Unfortunately, this machine is not common to all recycling centers. In turn, recycling these grocery bags with other materials can cause damage, even at a serious scale. This is because this bag tends to jam the conveyor belt of the machine.

So, what you need to do is find out if the recycling center in your area accepts grocery bags. Usually, they will have certain rules about how they receive grocery bags for recycling. For instance, you will usually need your bags to be empty and dry. So, remove items like stickers, receipts, and crumbs.

Also, you do not need to stress yourself by delivering a plastic grocery bag to the recycling center each time you are done with one. You can now accumulate them before delivering them. For instance, you can fit around 50 to 100 bags in a garbage bag before sending them to the recycling center.

You will also need to keep in mind that the color of your bag significantly affects recycling. We bet you are wondering if that is even possible. Well, it is a fact.

Usually, black plastic bags pose more problems during recycling. In fact, some centers opt to omit them from their recycling programs. This is because such plastics are dyed, and they produce dark pellets. The result of this is that there are fewer options when it comes to reprocessing such plastics.

Are Grocery Bags Biodegradable?

Today, thanks to the significant spread of environmental pollution worldwide, recycling has become more prominent. Similarly, considering the significant number of landfills across the world today, the question of biodegradability has become relevant.

When it comes to biodegradability, it simply means the capacity of waste to break down into nothing, thanks to the activities of bacteria and other living organisms. In such cases, they cease to exist as waste and free up space in landfills.

Generally, the material is regarded as biodegradable if it will breakdown fast thanks to these bacteria.  However, when the breakdown takes a very long time to occur, such items are not considered biodegradable. So, now that we have cleared that up let us get back to whether your grocery bags are biodegradable.

When it comes to your paper grocery bags, they are biodegradable. In fact, they will break down in little or no time. This is because you can trace its origin to a natural item – trees. So, even if they find their way to landfills, they will not spend ages there.

On the other hand, when it comes to plastic grocery bags, they are not biodegradable. In most cases, their breakdown will take hundreds of years. As such, when they find their way to landfills, they tend to fill up space indefinitely.

This is why it is always best to prioritize recycling your plastic grocery bags if you are interested in saving the environment. For instance, when you recycle one ton of plastic grocery bags, what you do is save 11 oil barrels. Great, right? You get to reduce the carbon footprint around the world.

Even better, plastic bags constitute a significant source of debris in the marine environment. In addition, they are usually deadly to aquatic life as they are sometimes regarded as food by fish and birds. However, by recycling your plastic grocery bag, you reduce the number of bags that make it to landfills and save aquatic lives in one way or the other.

Are Grocery Bags Compostable?

The next question on your mind is whether or not your grocery bags are compostable. You most likely have a garden, and you are wondering if your grocery bag can be useful beyond accompanying you to the market. Let us tell you what you need to know.

Whether your grocery bag is compostable depends on the material that your grocery bag comes from. So far, we have explained that your grocery bag can be made up of plastic or paper. So, we will assess whether or not they are compostable.

First, your paper grocery bag is compostable. That is, you can convert it to compost for the benefit of your garden. If you are wondering why you will recall that you can trace paperback to a living thing which is a tree.

In itself, it is organic. So, you can combine it with other compost materials and expect it to provide favorable returns to your garden. First, however, ensure that the paper grocery bag is clean. Also, ensure that it is empty and free from stickers or other materials that can compromise the compost mix.

On the other hand, when it comes to plastic grocery bags, they are not compostable. This is because plastic is a synthetic material. So, please do not make the mistake of adding them to your compost material. They cannot be broken down or absorbed as nutrients by the plants. They will only damage your compost mix.

7 Great Ideas to Dispose of Grocery Bags

While recycling is a great idea for your grocery bags, there are other options available that you can take advantage of. This involves reusing or repurposing your grocery bags. Now, let us get right to these options that are available for you.

1. Protecting Your Plants

One thing that you can do is use these grocery bags – usually plastic – to protect your plants. So, for instance, if there is a snowstorm coming to your area, all you need to do is cover your potted plants with the bag. It will ensure that the petals and leaves do not get killed by the pitter frost.

2. Packing Your Items

Beyond going to the grocery store, you can also use these bags when packing. For instance, if you are moving to a new location, you can use it to wrap fragile items. This will provide extra protection to your item. You can also be sure that the item is less susceptible to damage.

3. Lining Your Paint Tray

You cannot deny that painting can be quite messy. If you are not careful, you will need to do loads of cleaning after the whole painting expedition. However, you do not have to go through that whole stress. You can use your grocery bag to reduce this.

All you need to do is line your paint tray using the grocery bag. Once you do this, you can pour the paint on the surface and get right to the painting. Once you are done, remove the bag and then wash it.

4. Pet Waste Bag

You do not need to keep wasting money on getting pet waste bags. You can now maximize your funds and apply your plastic grocery bags. It works great, and you get to save tons of money on waste bag expenses.

5. Drying Your Patio Pillows

While patio pillows are a fun option in your house, they come with some stress. This is especially when it rains. It can be very difficult and annoying to dry them out. However, your plastic grocery bags can be quite useful.

All you need to do is stuff your patio pillow with these grocery bags. Once you do so, you will realize that they dry up faster after it rains.

6. Car Waste Bags

We might sometimes miss it, but our cars also get dirty and filled up with different trash. If you are not careful, you will find yourself with too much trash than you can handle. However, you do not need to wait for this. You can easily place these grocery bags in various compartments in your car.

It will direct people to put their trash there. Then, once it gets filled up, you can empty the bags and keep your car clean.

7. Keep Leftovers

You can also use it to protect and wrap your leftovers before placing the food inside the fridge. For instance, you can put your place your vegetables in this means. First, however, you want to ensure that the bag is very clean and dry. This way, you do not contaminate your food.


How you handle your grocery bag is something that you should be worried about. After all, you get to have a considerable number of these bags. As a result, one option that has become popular is recycling.

However, there is still some confusion in some cycles as to whether you can recycle grocery bags. Well, that should not be the case anymore. In this article, we have discussed all you need to know. So, read up and make more informed choices.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.