Can cereal bags be recycled?

Cereals have become widely popular around the world as breakfast food. Thanks to the convenience it offers, it has also gained popularity as a midnight snack. Because cereals are favored by kids and adults alike, it is no wonder how cereal bags make a big part of the trash we accumulate at home. Good news–they are recyclable.

But depending on what your local authority says, you can probably recycle your cereal bags in the same place you recycle plastic shopping bags and dry cleaning bags. We may also be able to return your cereal bags to a recycle through the mail.

What are cereal bags made of?

A lot of cereal box liners are made from a plastic called high density polyethylene (HDPE). This type of plastic is most commonly seen as milk jugs and are often accepted by curbside recycling programs. 

HDPE can be remanufactured back into plastic bags. It can also be turned into plastic bottles, lumber, and pipes, among others. It is easily recyclable and is considered to be among the safest types of plastic, which is also why it is commonly used to contain food and beverages.

How to make sure your cereal bags are being recycled

If you live in a community that allows plastic recycling, make sure you follow their instructions for recycling plastic bags. Usually, they ask that you put all plastic bags into one bag. Doing so will prevent plastic bags from being blown away by the wind or getting tangled with other recyclable materials. This also explains why they should not be added to other bins as they have the tendency to stack and damage recycling machinery. 

Instead of recycling plastic by yourself, the right way is for plastic film to be dropped off in the facility. Despite curbside plastic bag recycling programs being promoted, they are not as common as we would like it to be. 

As with any kind of food packaging, make sure that all remaining cereals residues are removed properly from the bag. This is to ensure that contamination is avoided. Washing the bag with water is also a big no-no. However, a quick wipe with a towel to remove residual crumbs is generally fine.

What about cereal boxes?

Majority of cereal boxes are made from lightweight cardboard that are easy to recycle. Recycling them is the same as recycling other paper products such as envelopes,  newspapers and other food boxes. 

Recycling stations take paper products and easily process them to be repurposed. To make it even easier for your recycling facility, It is a good idea to break down cereal boxes before placing them in your recycling bin. This way, they take up less space and will go through recycling machinery more easily.

Not all cereal bags are created equal.

A wake up call on cereal bags, though. Not all of them are made from HDPE. This means that not all cereal bags are that easy to recycle.

If the bag could easily tear like paper, or has a plastic resin number on it, you may want to rethink how you should dispose of it. Instead of merely throwing it, you could try repurposing your cereal bags as a substitute for wax paper or to hold other objects such as paper and magazines.

Can cereal bags be reused?

Another great thing about cereal bags is that you can easily reuse them. In fact, you can even enjoy doing it with your kids. 

You can use cereal bags like you would a wax paper, something to trace pattern pieces for applique projects onto cereal boxes to create templates. With the cardboard being just the right weight, craft opportunities are endless. 

Because cereal bags are made of high quality plastic, we can use it for keeping veggies fresh in the fridge. Simply place them on the top of bowls and put them in place using a rubber band. This is a perfect way to reuse them, since HDPEs are known to be safe for handling food.

Common questions about cereal bags being recycled

How can you tell if plastic is recyclable?

Plastic usually comes with a resin number, or that number you see with arrows around it. Although not a very accurate description of how easy it could be recycled, it will give you a concrete idea of whether or not the plastic has the chance to be recycled. Recyclable plastic types are numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5.

Can bread bags be recycled?

Yes. The best way to dispose of them for recycling is to collect all your bread bags and place them in one big bag before placing them in the recycling bin. This way, it could be handled better by the recycling machinery and prevent them from getting entangled. Washing and drying them off to remove residue should also be done before putting them to the trash.

Can you put grocery bags in the recycle bin?

No. Soft plastic such as grocery bags are not easily recyclable. Although some communities accept them to recycle, it is not as readily available as for other plastic types such as PET bottles.

Cereal bags make up a huge amount of trash the world because of how convenient and delicious cereal is. It is a relief that for once, convenience does not mean we have to sacrifice the environment. However, the fact that it is still made of plastic should be treated as an opportunity for manufacturers to look into greener alternatives to make it even more guilt-free than it already is.