Are #7 Plastic Bags Recyclable?

In today’s world, recycling has become increasingly important as we strive to reduce waste and protect the environment. One common question that arises is whether #7 plastic bags are recyclable. In fact, #7 plastic bags are generally not recyclable in most recycling programs. However, it’s essential to understand the reasons behind this and explore alternative solutions. In this article, we will delve into the topic of #7 plastic bags and their recyclability, discussing the challenges they pose and potential ways to manage them more sustainably.

Understanding #7 Plastic Bags

Plastic bags have become an integral part of our daily lives, but not all plastic bags are created equal. When it comes to recycling, it’s important to understand the different types of plastics and their recycling capabilities. In this article, we will focus on #7 plastic bags and explore whether they are recyclable.

What is #7 plastic?

#7 plastic is a category of plastic resin that includes various types of plastic materials. It is often referred to as “Other” or “Miscellaneous” plastic. Unlike other plastic categories, #7 plastic is not as easily recognizable as it can encompass a wide range of materials. This category includes polycarbonate (PC) and other mixed plastic resins.

Polycarbonate is a durable and heat-resistant plastic that is commonly used in the production of baby bottles, food containers, and even eyeglass lenses. Other mixed plastic resins under #7 category are used in the manufacturing of certain types of packaging, such as yogurt containers, squeeze bottles, and some plastic bags.

Types of #7 plastic bags

When it comes to #7 plastic bags, it is important to note that not all #7 bags are the same. Some #7 bags are considered recyclable, while others are not. It ultimately depends on the specific type of plastic resin used in the bag’s production.

One commonly found type of #7 plastic bag is the compostable bag. These bags are made from a biodegradable material called polylactic acid (PLA), which is derived from renewable resources such as cornstarch or sugarcane. Compostable bags are designed to break down naturally in composting facilities, making them a more eco-friendly option.

On the other hand, some #7 plastic bags are not recyclable due to the complexity of the plastic resin used in their production. These bags may contain a combination of different plastic materials, making them difficult to separate and recycle efficiently.

It is important to check with your local recycling facilities to determine if they accept #7 plastic bags for recycling. Some facilities may be equipped to handle certain types of #7 bags, while others may not accept them at all. Recycling guidelines can vary from one area to another, so it’s always best to stay informed about the recycling options in your community.

For more information on plastic recycling and sustainable practices, you can visit websites such as EPA or

Recycling Challenges

Why are #7 plastic bags difficult to recycle?

#7 plastic bags, also known as “other plastics” or “miscellaneous plastics,” present unique challenges when it comes to recycling. One of the main reasons is that #7 plastic bags are made from a variety of different polymers, making it difficult to process them in recycling facilities. These bags often consist of a mixture of different plastics, which can complicate the recycling process and make it less economically viable.

Unlike some other types of plastics, #7 plastic bags do not have a standardized recycling code. This lack of uniformity makes it more challenging for recycling facilities to identify and sort them properly. As a result, many recycling programs do not accept #7 plastic bags, and they often end up in landfills or incinerated.

It’s important to note that not all #7 plastics are bags. Some #7 plastics, such as certain types of food containers and water bottles, are recyclable in some areas. However, the focus of this discussion is specifically on #7 plastic bags.

Contamination issues

Contamination is another significant challenge when it comes to recycling #7 plastic bags. These bags are often used to transport various items, such as groceries, toiletries, or even hazardous chemicals. As a result, they can become contaminated with residues that are difficult to remove during the recycling process.

Contaminated plastic bags can compromise the quality of recycled materials and make them less suitable for reuse. Additionally, the presence of contaminants can also pose health and safety risks for workers at recycling facilities.

Due to these contamination issues, recycling facilities may choose to avoid accepting #7 plastic bags altogether or require additional cleaning and sorting processes, which can be time-consuming and costly.

For more information on plastic recycling and the challenges associated with it, you can visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website.

Alternative Solutions

Reducing the use of #7 plastic bags

While #7 plastic bags may not be widely recyclable, there are several alternative solutions that can help reduce their usage and minimize their impact on the environment. One effective way to reduce the use of #7 plastic bags is by opting for reusable bags instead. These bags are made from durable materials such as cotton, jute, or canvas, and can be used multiple times, reducing the need for single-use plastic bags.

Did you know? According to a study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American uses about 1,500 plastic bags per year. By switching to reusable bags, you can significantly reduce this number and make a positive impact on the environment.

Reusable bag options

When it comes to reusable bags, there are plenty of options available in the market. One popular choice is the classic tote bag, which is spacious, sturdy, and perfect for carrying groceries or other items. Another option is the foldable bag, which can be easily folded and stored in your purse or pocket, making it convenient to carry around.

If you prefer a more stylish option, there are also reusable bags with trendy designs and patterns that can add a touch of personality to your shopping trips. Some companies even offer custom-made reusable bags, allowing you to showcase your creativity while being environmentally conscious.

Pro tip: Keep a few reusable bags in your car or near your front door, so you never forget to bring them when you go shopping. This way, you’ll always be prepared to say “no” to single-use plastic bags and contribute to a greener planet.

For more information on the environmental impact of plastic bags and the benefits of reusable alternatives, you can visit websites such as EPA.

Special Recycling Programs

When it comes to recycling #7 plastic bags, there are special recycling programs that have been put in place to address this particular type of plastic. These programs aim to divert plastic bags from ending up in landfills and instead give them a second life through recycling.

Local recycling initiatives

Many local communities have implemented recycling initiatives that accept #7 plastic bags. These initiatives can vary from city to city, so it’s important to check with your local municipality or waste management authority to see if they have a recycling program for #7 plastic bags. Some cities provide drop-off locations where you can bring your plastic bags for recycling, while others may have special collection events throughout the year.

Did you know? Some cities even offer curbside pickup for #7 plastic bags, making it even more convenient for residents to recycle them. Check with your local recycling program to see if this service is available in your area.

Terracycle programs

Terracycle is an innovative company that specializes in recycling hard-to-recycle materials, including #7 plastic bags. They partner with various organizations and retailers to provide collection points for these bags. Through their programs, you can drop off your #7 plastic bags at designated locations, such as participating grocery stores or community centers.

Fun fact: Terracycle has partnered with major retailers like Walmart and Target to offer convenient drop-off locations for #7 plastic bags. So, the next time you’re out shopping, keep an eye out for these collection points and do your part in recycling these bags.

It’s important to note that not all recycling programs accept #7 plastic bags, as they can be more challenging to recycle compared to other types of plastic. Therefore, it’s crucial to participate in the specific programs mentioned above to ensure that your #7 plastic bags are properly recycled.

For more information on local recycling programs and Terracycle initiatives, you can visit the following websites:

Future Innovations

The issue of recycling #7 plastic bags has been a challenge for many years due to their complex composition. However, researchers and scientists are constantly working towards finding innovative solutions to tackle this problem. Let’s explore some of the future advancements in #7 plastic recycling and biodegradable alternatives.

Advancements in #7 plastic recycling

One of the most promising advancements in #7 plastic recycling is the development of new technologies that can efficiently process and break down this type of plastic. Researchers are exploring various methods, such as chemical recycling and pyrolysis, to convert #7 plastic into useful materials.

Chemical recycling involves breaking down the plastic into its basic components, which can then be used to create new products. This process not only helps in recycling #7 plastic bags but also reduces the dependency on fossil fuels. Pyrolysis, on the other hand, involves heating the plastic at high temperatures to break it down into smaller molecules that can be used as feedstock for the production of fuels or chemicals.

These innovative recycling technologies hold great potential in solving the recycling challenges associated with #7 plastic bags. They offer a promising future where these bags can be effectively recycled, reducing their environmental impact.

Biodegradable alternatives

In addition to advancements in recycling, another approach to addressing the issue of #7 plastic bags is the development of biodegradable alternatives. These alternatives are designed to break down naturally over time, reducing the accumulation of plastic waste in our environment.

One such alternative is the use of biodegradable polymers, which are derived from renewable sources such as plants. These polymers have similar properties to traditional plastics but can degrade much faster under specific conditions, such as exposure to sunlight or microorganisms.

Another innovative solution is the use of compostable bags made from materials like cornstarch or vegetable oils. These bags can be broken down into organic matter in composting facilities, providing a sustainable alternative to #7 plastic bags.

It is important to note that while biodegradable alternatives offer a promising solution, proper disposal is still crucial. These bags should be disposed of in the appropriate waste streams to ensure they can break down effectively.

For more information on the latest advancements and research in #7 plastic recycling and biodegradable alternatives, you can visit websites like Plastics Recycling Foundation.


While #7 plastic bags may not be widely recyclable in traditional recycling programs, it’s crucial to explore alternative solutions to reduce their environmental impact. By understanding the challenges they pose and adopting reusable bag options, we can make a significant difference. Additionally, supporting local recycling initiatives and utilizing specialized programs like Terracycle can help divert #7 plastic bags from landfills. As advancements in recycling technology continue, there is hope for a future where #7 plastic bags can be recycled more efficiently. Ultimately, by being mindful of our plastic consumption and exploring sustainable alternatives, we can contribute to a greener and cleaner planet.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top