Plastic Bags & Overwrap
Plastic film is lightweight, versatile, reusable and strong - a great all-round packaging material
Most Canadians use plastic film in many ways, large and small every day. We probably all have a stash of used plastic bags in various shapes and sizes, and purchase items multi-packs of paper towel, or flats of pop or juice with an overwrap that holds the individual items together. For larger applications, plastic film protects hay bales, adds a vapor barrier to homes and protects boats in the winter. It's less a question of where is plastic film used than where is it not providing a valuable service in our everyday lives!
Plastic bags and overwrap are recyclable!
Plastic film is usually made of low or high or low density polyethylene HDPE and LDPE) and clean film and overwrap from homes and businesses is readily recyclable. It is not collected in all recycling programs and we’re always working to make improvements. If your program doesn’t collect plastic film, you can always use the Film Drop-off Directory to find out where and how you can recycle bags & overwrap.
And when they're recycled...
What is CPIA doing?
Plastic bags and overwrap are valuable resources and used wisely, offer many benefits. CPIA supports efforts to divert used plastic bags from landfill, educating consumers about reduction, reuse and recycling options and working with:
- retailers to promote proper packing and use of bags
- municipalities to expand curbside recycling of plastic overwrap and shopping bags
- industry to ensure that viable end markets are available and continue to grow
CPIA has funded studies and worked with communities and industry partners to find out how best to recycle the largest possible amounts of plastic film. It's always best to reuse plastic film products and packages as long as you can, but when they can no longer be used safely and hygienically, the next best option is to recycle them, using the path promoted in your community.
- Over 61% of Canadians can recycle plastic bags in municipal recycling programs and more can drop off bags at depots and stores. To find out where, use the Plastic bag look-up tool
- Chip bags and juice pouches are made of layers of flexible plastics laminated together to create properties that protect and preserve goods. They aren't collected in Canadian recycling programs yet but tests are underway to assess options. Find out more about laminates
- Recycled plastic bags and overwrap are used to create new products with post-consumer recycled content. For example, a 16’ long composite board on an outdoor deck can take up to 2250 bags
- Plastic film and overwrap can prevent food spoilage and maintain hygiene in fresh goods, and reduce the amount of food sent to landfill. For example, wrapping meat in ultrathin plastic can extend its shelf life by at least 21 days. Learn more in CPIA’s Plastic Packaging: Preventing Food Waste (2015) and How Packaging Contributes to Food Waste Prevention (Europe, 2014)
- Grocery Carry Bag Sanitation “A Microbiological Study of Reusable Bags and `First or single-use’ Plastic Bags".
For more information: see Recycling Resources