Can You Recycle Garbage Bags? (And Alternatives to Them)

One thing you would be sure to find in the home of every American is a garbage bag. The reason for this is not hard to figure out. Every household generates waste daily, and it is necessary to dispose of the waste to maintain home hygiene.

For sure, you can’t go out every time you generate waste. So, it is usually okay to get a garbage bag where you put your waste. And take it out to the garbage bin when it is filled up.

However, what’s up with the garbage bag itself? Does it get lost in the garbage bin? Or does it litter the landfills? These and many more are the questions that pop up in your mind occasionally. Well, don’t go hyper. We have the answers here.

In this post, we have explained to you different things about your garbage bag. We only ask you to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Are Garbage Bags Recyclable?

Recycling things have come very easy these days. From papers to old clothes down to electronics, they are all recyclables. There are, however, some things that are still Not recyclable. And one of those things is a garbage bag.

It would help if you understood that garbage bags themselves are from recycled materials. So, the plastic fiber in them is very thin. Recycling them may pose a whole lot of problems.

Asides from this, they are often dirty and wet. This poses many challenges to workers in recycling companies if at all, the garbage bags get there. They would have first to sort them, wash and dry them. Through these processes, the garbage bags may mix with other recyclables like papers. And this is a major problem again.

Besides, the primary purpose of your garbage bag is to put your trash. In most cases, you put your waste in the garbage bag and allow it to fill up. After this, you take it to the trash bin outside.

Now, here’s where the problem is. Almost everything in your trash bin goes to the landfill. This is one reason they tell you not even to put your recyclables in a garbage bag.

If you do this, you create the impression that everything in the bag is waste. And that you don’t intend to recycle whatever you put in the garbage bag. The same thing goes for garbage bags. When you fill them up and put them in trash cans, their next destination is often in landfills.

Recyclers often don’t even get to notice them, let alone attempting to recycle them. So, that’s it. Garbage bags are not recyclables.

Are Garbage Bags Biodegradable?

Now that you know that it is unlikely for your garbage bag to be recycled, you are probably thinking about other ways. Though there seem to be no different ways except you want to re-use the garbage bags. But then, how about knowing if the garbage bags are biodegradable.

The answer to this question is essential because we need to know how much damage happens to our environment. Knowing this would inform the way we use these garbage bags.

Now, here is the thing. Garbage bags are biodegradable. However, this answer has a lot of things hanging over it. The problem is in the garbage bag materials and the time it takes to biodegrade. Let’s explain what we mean by this.

The garbage bag is the product of recycled plastics. Yes, some of your plastic bottles and plastic packaging that you throw into the recycling container evolve into garbage bags through recycling.

By now, you should know that plastic materials take a very long time before they biodegrade. Averagely, they can take up to a hundred years. Even after this, they do not entirely leave the earth’s surface. Instead, they break down into microplastics and remain in the soil.

So, the problem with garbage bags is not whether they won’t biodegrade. Scientifically, they will. The problem is when will this occur entirely.

Before the complete breakdown of the garbage bags, which are plastic materials, a lot can happen. For instance, if it rains heavily, the flood could wash them away from the landfills into waterways. From there, they could end up in rivers or seas or even on land where they are unwanted.

This could cause harm to the animals that come in contact with these plastic materials. Since animals are undiscerning, they could consume these plastics and die from it.

So, yes. Garbage bags are biodegradable, but they will take exceeding long years. In between this time, natural events could displace them, causing problems for the environment.

Are Garbage Bags Bad For the Environment?

It’s hard to wrap your head around this question. How did we get to a point where we ask if garbage bags used for storing waste are terrible for the environment? I mean, aren’t garbage bags supposed to help us store waste that would otherwise be bad for the environment? Well, this is where we are now. And we need to tackle things headlong.

Now, are garbage bags bad for the environment? The answer is astounding Yes.

Like you know, garbage bags come from plastic materials. Moreover, plastic materials, except you recycle them, are bad for the environment because they take a long time to decompose. The problem with garbage bags is that you can’t recycle them in addition to being plastic materials. So that’s it—double problem causing harm to the environment.

Asides from this, plastic materials contain some toxic chemicals.

Are Black Plastic Garbage Bags Biodegradable?

Generally, people don’t mention plastic and biodegradable in the same sentence. This is because they know that plastics don’t do well when it comes to decomposing. Although scientifically, they will later biodegrade, this can take up to a hundred years. This is the same thing for all items made with plastic.

For black plastic garbage bags, the answer is as clear as daylight. They will biodegrade, but this is after decades. The implication of this is that the black plastic bags would litter the landfills for countless years. If it rains heavily, the flood could wash them off to the sea or nearby river. This could cause a massive problem for marine animals.

Even if it ends up on land, it could harm land animals, plants, and the soil. The worse part of this is that plastic doesn’t entirely biodegrade. They only break dozen into microplastic, which remain in the ground for many years. This would reduce the fertility of the soil and affect plants’ growth.

So, the better thing to do is reduce the waste you generate in your home or offices. This is so you can have less need for plastic garbage bags. Also, you can seek for an alternative to plastic garbage bags.

Suppose you don’t already know the alternatives, don’t worry too much. We will get to that in an instant.


What are the Alternatives to Plastic Garbage Bags?

As standard as plastic garbage bags are in our homes and offices, there are still alternatives to them. Read along to know the other options.

1. Avoid Garbage Bags

Yes, this is one of the things you can do as an alternative to plastic garbage bags. You can do without them totally and begin to dispose of your waste directly to the trash bin outside. This would, however, work out for you if you are already used to making little waste.

If this works out for you, don’t, however, forget to separate your waste. Don’t put the recyclables in the trash bin. You can also separate the excess food and make compost for your plants.

If you live alone or your family is exceptionally conscious of the waste they generate, you can adopt this method. If not, you may want to consider the other alternative below.

2. Use Big Cartons

A different way to say goodbye to plastic garbage bags is by using cartons. If you have big cartons like the one that came with your dishwasher or any of those heavy machines, you can use it.

All you need to do is place it at an easily accessible place and get a broad carton to cover it. The good thing about this is that it is re-useable. You don’t have to look for a new one each time you dispose of the waste. But, you need to ensure that you keep it clean. You can line the bottom with old newspapers. And please, avoid pouring water in it and anything that could make it moist.

3. Use Reusable Bags

There are many bags that you can re-use. These are more economical and eco-friendlier than your plastic garbage bag. All you need to do is drop off the content in your trash bin and wash it. Be careful not to tear it when washing so that it can serve you for long.

How Do You Dispose of Garbage Bags?

You may wonder why do you need to dispose of garbage bags again? Are you not disposing of them with the waste when you take your garbage outside? Yes, you are. But there is a safe way to dispose of the garbage bags.

Now, let’s quickly deal with an odd scenario. And that is if you have used garbage bags stored up in your home hoping to dispose of them. We know this is not common, but then, it is still a possibility.

So, if you have used garbage bags, don’t panic. Here’s what to do. Please get a new garbage bag and put all the used and dirty bags in it. Once you do this, tie the bag like you would tie your regular waste in the garbage bag. Then, you can take it to the trash can outside and dispose of it over there. Simple and straightforward; that’s it.

So, let’s get back to the main issue. How do you dispose of your garbage bags? One thing you should know is that there is no unique way to do this. But you need to do it safely.

Now, like the way you always do, take your garbage bag, and put your waste in it. When it is almost filled up, you should tie it and take it outside the trash bin. However, you have to ensure that your garbage bag has not been torn. This is to prevent waste from falling off.

Note that as you bag your waste and throw them away, you will also dispose of your garbage bag. So, ideally, there should be no worry about that.


That’s pretty much everything about your garbage bag. Now that you know their impact on the environment, we expect that you become conscious of them. Be environmentally conscious when using them and always seek for a sustainable alternative.

Share on:

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.