Green Tip — How to Recycle Soft Plastics

Posted on March 30, 2022 by Dave Cohen, Green Team

Starting May 4, most single-use, point-of-sale plastics will be banned in New Jersey, including plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam take-out food containers.

But you’ll still see plenty of recyclable plastic: produce bags for loose fruits and vegetables; many shipping bags; and anything prepackaged with film. We’ve checked with a couple of local grocery stores, and they will continue accepting plastic for recycling, but it’s important not to include plastics that aren’t recyclable.

Basically, stretchable plastics are recyclable, but crinkly ones like cellophane are not. Recyclable plastics are either high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or low-density polyethylene (LDPE). These are plastic categories #2 and #4, so check the bags for the numeric recycling symbol.  Also, before recycling the bag, remember to remove any food material; soiled plastics are often considered contaminated and can’t be recycled.

Lastly, we’ve seen conflicting advice about paper labels on the bags. Some websites say the high heat used in the recycling process will burn away the paper, so you don’t have to remove it, but other sitessay you should remove as much as you can. If you can, try to cut or tear off those pesky labels.

Environmentally yours,

TBE’s Green Team