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Is Plastic Wrap Recyclable? How Is It Properly Disposed? Facts & FAQ

Plastic Bags on the Floor

Plastic wrap is a popular item that protects items during shipping and while it sits in storage. However, with the recent push for everyone to become more environmentally friendly, many wonder if plastic wrap is recyclable. Fortunately, the short answer is yes. You can recycle most plastic wrap, but keep reading as we look at the different types of plastic wrap to see which ones are not recyclable, discuss how to dispose of them properly, and consider a few other facts to help you be better informed.

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Is Plastic Wrap Recyclable?

Most manufacturers make their plastic wraps from #2 and #4 plastic. Both kinds are recyclable. The material helps make composite lumber and other items and contains no contaminants, so it’s usually clear and void of bright colors.

man and woman covering furniture with plastic
Image By: elabracho, Shutterstock

What Kind of Plastic Wrap Is Not Recyclable?

Unfortunately, cling wrap is usually not recyclable, as it is a #3 plastic, though some companies are looking for a new environmentally friendly formula. Cling wrap is popular in the kitchen, but manufacturers make it from a kind of PVC containing contaminants incompatible with recycling. It also frequently comes in contact with food, preventing its reuse, so you will need to place this type of plastic in the trash and send it to the landfill.

How Do I Recycle Plastic Wrap?

Unfortunately, most curbside pickup recycling trucks will not accept plastic wrap. Instead, we recommend taking it to your local grocery store, which often has a program for recycling plastic bags. Large home improvement stores, like Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walmart, and Target, also frequently collect recyclable plastics and other materials. Additionally, contact your local recycling plant to find a suitable location to take it.

How Can I Tell If the Plastic Wrap Is Recyclable?

The best way to tell if your plastic wrap is recyclable is to look at the plastic resin code printed on it. You will usually find it inside a triangle shape on the item. If the printed number is a 2 or 4, you can recycle it. Otherwise, you cannot recycle it.

What Other Common Items Use #2 and #4 Plastic?

Many common items in the home use #2 and #4 plastic, and you can recycle them with your plastic wrap. These include plastic grocery bags, Ziploc bags, bubble wraps, bread bags, and newspaper bags.

Bubble wrap
Image Credit: Pete Linforth, Pixabay

What Common Plastic Items Are Not Recyclable?

You cannot recycle prepackaged salad bags or any plastic that contains leftover food. Any plastics that contain excessive coloring are also usually not recyclable.

How Can I Reduce My Need for Unrecyclable Cling Wrap?

If you want to reduce your independence on plastics, try switching to mason jars or other food storage containers. You can reuse these containers many times, making them better for the environment even if they aren’t recyclable. Fabric bowl covers or oil cloth also work well, as do wax and parchment paper.

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The ordinary plastic wrap that you find on many products is usually recyclable by taking it to your local grocery store or big box stores like Target, Walmart, Lowe’s, or Home Depot. You can also recycle grocery bags, Ziploc bags, and bubble wrap in the same way. If you are unsure whether your plastic wrap is recyclable, look for a triangle symbol with a number printed inside. If the number is 2 or 4, you can recycle it. Otherwise, you must throw it away. Unfortunately, cling wrap is not recyclable, though a few brands are working on a recyclable formula that may be available soon.

Featured Image Credit: Anna Shvets, Pexels


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