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Solid Waste Agency of Lake County
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Plastic Bag and Film Recycling

Many retailers throughout Lake County have collected and recycled plastic bags and film for years to decrease waste streams and be more eco-friendly. In 2006, more than 812 million pounds of plastic film and bags were recycled nationwide. With the enactment of the Plastic Bag Recycling Act (Public Act 095-0268), plastic bag and film recycling programs here in Lake County are being expanded.

The Illinois Plastic Bag Recycling Task Force was created by the Act and is charged with developing and implementing a plastic bag and film at-store recycling program in Lake County. The goal of the pilot campaign is to pull together various stakeholders in order to raise consumer awareness about recycling and its availability in Lake County in order to increase the recovery of plastic bags and film.

For more information, read our Overview or the Report to the Illinois General Assembly from the Plastic Bag Recycling Task Force (May 2010).


Residents are encouraged to recycle both plastic bags and film. The bag-in-bag system, where plastic bags and film are collected in a larger plastic bag before bringing to a local retailer, is recommended.

Items that can be recycled should be empty, clean and dry. They include:

  • Grocery Bags
  • Newspaper Bags
  • Bread Bags
  • Produce Bags
  • Plastic Retail Bags (hard plastic and string handles removed)
  • Zip-Lock Bags (remove hard components)
  • Other Storage Bags
  • Cereal Box Liners
  • Toilet Paper, Napkin and Paper Towel Wraps
  • Dry Cleaning Bags
  • Tyvek (no glue, labels or other material)
  • Diaper Wrap (packaging)
  • Plastic Shipping Envelopes (no labels)
  • Case Wrap (e.g. snacks, water bottles)
  • Furniture Wrap
  • Electronic Wrap
  • All empty, clean and dry bags labeled #2 or #4

The following items are considered contaminates and cannot be recycled:

  • Frozen food bags
  • Prewashed salad mix bags
  • Biodegradable bags


Nine retailers in Lake County, IL have opted to participate in the pilot program:

  • Butera Market
  • CVS Pharmacy
  • JC Penney
  • Jewel-Osco
  • Piggly Wiggly
  • Lowes
  • PetSmart
  • Sunset Foods
  • Walgreens

Together these companies provide approximately 70 locations for residents to drop off recyclable plastic bags and film. Participating retailers have implemented collection bins at the entrance and exit of stores. Residents have the opportunity to drop off acceptable bags and film at the above collection locations. To find collection locations across the country by state, click here to visit the consumer section on

Please check with your local retailer to see if they recycle plastic bags and film currently, or plan to in the future.

Overview of the Plastic Bag Recycling Act

The Plastic Bag Recycling Act (P.A. 095-0268) became effective on January 1, 2008 and created the Plastic Bag Recycling Task Force. The Task Force is responsible for developing and implementing a pilot recycling program and is comprised of retailers, recyclers, a Lake County board member, state representatives, a state senator, the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County SWALCO), and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Retailers throughout the county are implementing plastic bag and film collection programs that facilitate the return and recycling of plastic bags distributed to consumers by retailers. When the pilot program concludes at the end of this year, the Task Force will submit a report to the General Assembly that will address the costs, benefits and challenges of implementing the pilot program. Ultimately, the findings may be used by the General Assembly to determine if statewide legislation is warranted.

The program requires the involvement of both retailers and consumers to be successful. The retailers’ role is to provide an accessible, clearly marked collection bin for the plastic bags and film. The consumers’ role is to collect the plastic bags and film and bring it to a convenient location as part of a regular trip to the store. Please refer to and/or PUBLIC ACT 095-0268 for more information regarding this program and plastic film recycling in general.