Chances are, recyclable plastic bags and film can be found in your household as well as every other household and business in your community. But, what’s the difference between a plastic bag and plastic wrap and film? What can be recycled? Where can it be recycled? These are just a few of the questions that come up again and again, and we’ve got some answers for you.

Plastic film, sometimes called stretch film, is a thin polyethylene plastic and may carry a #2 HDPE or #4 LDPE mark.

Both are recyclable, but a plastic bag is associated with groceries and retail shopping, while plastic wrap and film covers a wider variety of the same recyclable materials and includes items such as newspaper bags, produce bags, furniture and electronic wrap, bread bags and Ziploc® brand Sandwich Bags.

The good news is that almost all plastic films and bags are 100 percent recyclable, as long as they are clean and dry. Generally speaking, if plastic film stretches when you pull it with your fingers, it can be recycled.

When it comes time to recycle, your area may accept bags and wraps in their curbside pickups, although most do not. This is because the bags and wraps have to be clean and dry to be recycled and when they mingle in bins with bottles and other containers it’s hard to keep them from getting dirty. However, a recent study found that more than 91 percent of the U.S. population has access to plastic bag recycling and nearly 75 percent has access to plastic film recycling.

Drop-off locations can usually be found at your favorite grocery store or retailer, but if you want to easily find the closest drop-off location all you have to do is visit the Drop Off Directory.

In addition to making sure your items are clean and dry, here are a few helpful tips on what fits into the recyclable plastic bag and film category and what does not. 


✔ Colored plastic
✔ Plastic with labels or tape (if they are removed)

✘ If it crinkles loudly, like candy wrappers or potato chip bags
✘ If it tears like paper
✘ If it’s thicker, stiff plastic like pet food bags or bedding bags
✘ If it’s silvery or metallic (like some snack packaging or printer ink cartridge packages)

While it may seem like a lot to remember when it comes to recycling, many household brands, such as Ziploc® brand, have been working to make it easier. For example, Ziploc® brand updated their packaging to include new How2Recycle labels that call out information about how Ziploc® brand bags and the packaging itself can be recycled. The How2Recycle logos indicate whether the box can be recycled with other paper goods, if the plastic bags are recyclable with plastic products at store drop-offs and even include special instructions such as “Recycle if Clean & Dry.”

Learn more about plastic bag recyclability and the recycling efforts of Ziploc® brand at


Confused by plastic bag and film recycling?
We’ve got answers to your frequently asked questions.