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NYC - recycle more, waste less New York City Recycles NYC Department of Sanitation
Plastic Bag Mandatory Take-Back Recycling Program
Info for Residents

plastic bag recycling

types of plastic bags to recycled
where to recycle plastic bags
legal requirements
why plastic bags

plastic bag take-back info for businesses 

Types of plastic bags to recycle

Under State (not City) law, the New York State Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling Act requires certain retail stores in NYC and State to accept plastic carryout bags.

Other types of plastic bags, such as plastic dry cleaning bags and plastic newspaper delivery bags, are also accepted at many retailers, although not required.

 plastic bags dry cleaning bags newspaper delivery bags





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Where to recycle plastic bags

  • Bags can be dropped off at large stores and shopping malls, as well as medium to large chain stores that provide plastic bags

in-store collection of plastic bags

If a store refuses to accept your plastic bags, the NYS DEC (not the NYC Department of Sanitation) is responsible for enforcing New York State's plastic bag recycling law. For more information, go to Report an Environmental Problem leaving NYCWasteLess on the NYS DEC website, or contact DEC law enforcement for Region 2 leaving NYCWasteLess.

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Legal Requirements

Plastic bag recycling is governed under NY State's Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling Act (Assembly Bill A11725/ Senate Bill 8643-A), which requires large retail stores and shopping malls, and medium to large chain stores, to accept clean plastic bags for recycling.

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Why plastic bags?

Plastic bags are being targeted for recycling since film plastic comprises a good portion of the waste stream. In New York City plastic film accounts for about 7.5% of the residential waste stream. Plastic bags, specifically, comprise about 2.87% of New York City's residential waste stream, which is the largest source of plastic in NYC's waste (see what's in nyc's waste).

The system of returning plastic bags to a retail location is preferable to collecting plastic bags as part of the DSNY mixed recycling collection because it ensures the clean stream that is required to effectively recycle plastic bags and film. If bags were mixed together with recyclable food packaging, the organic material contained on those recyclables would contaminate the bags.

Visit all about plastics for more info.

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