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?
Please see below for more specific details on which films and bags are acceptable for recycling.
Where can I recycle plastic film and bags?
In the Municipality of Princeton there are thirteen drop off locations for recycling plastic film and bags. These locations are as follows.
1. McCaffrey's supermarket at the Princeton Shopping Center
2. Whole Earth Center at 360 Nassau Street
3. Princeton University store at 114 Nassau Street
4. Princeton University store at 36 University Street
5. Terhune Orchards at 330 Cold Soil Road
6. Princeton Farmers’ Market at 55 Witherspoon Street every Thursday
7. Princeton municipal building at 400 Witherspoon Street
8. Princeton municipal building at 1 Monument Drive
9. River Road Convenience Center at 298 River Road
10. Princeton Senior Resource Center at 45 Stockton Street
11. Jewish Center at 435 Nassau Street
12. Littlebrook Elementary School at 39 Magnolia Lane
13. Mercer Street Friends
14. All Saints' Church at 16 All Saints' Road
15. Trinity Church at 33 Mercer Street
Please see below for more information about what can and can’t be recycled at one of these drop off locations.
Why can't I put my bags in with my other curbside recycling?
Films are not recycled when included in Mercer County curbside recycling and these must be taken separately to one of the drop locations listed above. Additionally, bags and films can jam sorting machinery, creating problems for the businesses that sort recyclables.
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 wraps after they're recycled?
Plastic bags are recycled into many different products. Most bags and film are turned into composite lumber, but they can be reprocessed into small pellets or post-consumer resin, which can be used to make a variety of new products, such as new bags, pallets, containers, crates, and pipe. Watch this video to learn more about how your bags and wraps can become new composite lumber.
If you want more information or are interested in having a collection bin at your location please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.