It’s not uncommon to hear news stories about the harm that single-use plastics are doing to the environment. It’s causing people all over the world to take a harder look at their personal habits and think of new ways to reduce their plastic use. Among the more common types of plastic you might put in your shopping cart are plastic sandwich bags.
Plastic sandwich bags, such as the brand name Ziploc, are convenient and easy to use. But how eco friendly are Ziploc bags? Can they be easily recycled? Can they be safely reused?
Can Ziploc bags be recycled?
The short answer is: yes! The long answer is: yes, but not as easily as you might think.
Plastic sandwich bags are considered a “plastic film.” Plastic film is a flexible type of plastic material commonly used in grocery bags, dry cleaning bags, and the thin plastic material that products like toilet paper comes in. Plastic film is generally not permitted in curbside recycling bins, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be recycled.
Many grocery stores have recycling drop off centers for plastic film. These centers usually accept frozen food bags, salad mix bags, cellophane, cling wrap, and, you guessed it, plastic sandwich bags. You can locate your nearest drop off center here.
Is it safe to reuse Ziploc bags?
If you’ve decided to purchase some plastic sandwich bags, you might be feeling a little bit guilty about buying a single-use plastic item. But do they have to be single-use? Can Ziploc bags be washed and reused safely?
There are situations where you can reuse a plastic bag and situations where it’s not recommended. For example, if you’ve used a plastic bag to marinate raw meat, it’s advisable that you rinse it out and take it to a recycling center. It’s also advisible to dispose of the bags if you’ve used it to store a common allergen, like peanuts and shellfish. You should also discontinue use if the bag doesn’t seal or has holes.
But if you’ve used your Ziploc bag to store other types of food, like a PB&J sandwich, you’re good to reuse the bag. That isn’t to say that there aren’t still risks involved. Ziploc bags can be challenging to effectively clean. An improperly cleaned plastic sandwich bag can harbor bacteria that causes illness. Be sure to thoroughly wash them.
What are some eco-friendly alternatives to Ziploc bags?
For the most part, companies that manufacture plastic sandwich bags don’t manufacture them with reuse in mind. They truly are single-use plastic items. If you purchase these bags, it’s best to dispose of them in an eco friendly way. But there are alternatives to single use plastic sandwich bags.
Stasher Bags are 100% silicone reusable food bags that are sealable and intended to be reused. Bee’s Wraps are also increasing in popularity but are more of an alternative to plastic food wraps. If cloth is more youre style, these reusable Juco bags, made from 75% jute and 25% cotton, are a good option for you.
So to summarize, yes, you can recycle your plastic sandwich Ziploc bags, you can reuse them in certain circumstances, but ultimately, it’s better to find an eco friendly alternative to single use plastic.