Plastic Film Recycling F.A.Q.

 

What is “Plastic Film”?

Plastic film is thin polyethylene plastic used for wraps, packaging or commercial/retail use bags. It's sometimes called stretch film. Polyethylene (PE) film may carry a #2 HDPE or #4 LDPE mark.

What types of plastic film and bags should I recycle?

Produce bags, plastic shipping envelopes, bread bags, dry cleaning bags, case wrap, packing air pillows, newspaper bags, food storage bags, product overwrap, bubble wrap, single use plastic shopping bags. All films must be clean and dry.

Where can I recycle plastic film and bags?

In the Municipality of Princeton there are multiple drop off locations for recycling plastic film and bags. 

  • Sustainable Princeton office at One Monument Hall
  • McCaffrey's supermarket at the Princeton Shopping Center
  • Whole Earth Center at 360 Nassau Street
  • Princeton University Store at 114 Nassau Street
  • Princeton University Store at 36 University Street
  • Terhune Orchards at 330 Cold Soil Road
  • Princeton Farmers’ Market at 55 Witherspoon Street every Thursday
  • Princeton municipal building at 400 Witherspoon Street
  • Princeton Senior Resource Center at 45 Stockton Street
  • Jewish Center at 435 Nassau Street
  •  Mercer Street Friends
  • All Saints' Church at 16 All Saints' Road
  • Trinity Church at 33 Mercer Street
  • Nassau Presbyterian Church at 61 Nassau Street
  • Stone Hill Church of Princeton at 1026 Bunn Drive

Why can't I put my bags in with my other curbside recycling?

Plastic films including plastic shopping bags in are not accepted Princeton's curbside recycling. Additionally, bags and films can jam sorting machinery, creating problems for the businesses that sort recyclables and increasing the cost of recycling.

Why can't frozen food or prewashed salad bags go into the bin with my carryout bags?

Many of these bags may contain a barrier polymer or other additives that is not the polyethylene (#'s 2 and 4) plastic that recyclers want. These polymer barriers help protect the food and extend shelf life but recyclers consider them to be a contaminant in the recycling drop off points.

Can I recycle it if...

The plastic is colored?
YES. Colored material is not a problem for recycling.

It tears like paper?
NO. This type of plastic is currently not accepted in bag recycling drop off points.

It crinkles loudly and is silvery or metallic (like candy wrappers, flower bouquet wraps, or chip bags) when I mash it in my hand?
NO. Please do not include, as it is not currently acceptable for recycling.

It has labels or tape?
YES, but labels, tape, and adhesive strips SHOULD BE REMOVED prior to putting it in the recycling bin. The integrity of the bag isn't important—the recycler just wants the clean plastic.

It is thicker, stiff plastic like pet food bags or bedding bags (including anything with a zipper)?
NO. These are not the same type of plastic as what recyclers want, so DO NOT include.

If it says it's degradable or compostable?

NO. These bags cannot be placed in drop-off points. The recyclers reprocessing bags don't want the products they are making to degrade over time so these bags are not acceptable. These bags are generally translucent green, have the words compostable on them. They also a tree like arrow coming from a leaf and pointing back to the leaf as a symbol.

It is dirty, has crumbs, or is wet?
NO. Recyclers need the bags and film to be CLEAN and DRY. Please don't include dirty or wet bags, or any material that has food or other residues. If in doubt, throw it out!

What happens to my bags and plastic films after they're collected?

Volunteers take the plastic bags and films collected in the bins to McCaffrey's of Princeton where they are added to the material collected at the store. The material is sent to Trex® and recycled into composite lumber for outdoor decking and furniture. 

 

If you want more information or are interested in having a collection bin at your location please contact us at info@sustainableprinceton.org.

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