Plastic Bags

Myths: Fact or Fiction

Degrade in Landfill Myth

The Single Use Myth


Paper vs. Plastic Bags

Paper vs. Plastic Studies

Reusables Greener?

Types of Bags

Litter: The Facts
Public Health

Canada Update

Bags Around the World

The Oil Myth

Made in Canada
Ireland's Bag Tax

Plastic Bag Recycling

Fiction: Plastic bags are not recycled, or have very low recycling rates in Canada.

Fact: No. Canada has a national network of plastic bag recyclers and recycling rates are high and growing as recycling expands. 

The Facts

  • The recycling of plastic shopping bags that have not been reused for household and pet waste or for organics collection (40-60% of the bags) is very popular in Canada. Recycling rates are high:  32% in B.C, 32% in Alberta, 36% in Ontario and as high as 50% in some provinces in Atlantic Canada.1 
  • The bags are recycled and remanufactured, locally, extending the life of the resource and creating valuable green manufacturing jobs.  

  • The bags are recycled through a national network of recyclers into new bags, outdoor furniture, office supplies, water pipes, plastic lumber, and garden supplies.

More Detail

Recycling rates are high and growing

Canada Plastic Bag Recycling Rates
Sources: End Market Statistics, NS & ON MOE Data, Recycling Council Input

 There is a national network of bag recyclers coast to coast

plastic bag recycling Canada

There are many successful recycling systems in Canada

Toronto recycling           Toronto plastic bag recycling 

Canadians are Innovators in Recycling Technologies

plastic bag jobs for Ontarians               plastic bag jobs for Ontarians

Recycled Products are Made in Canada

Plastic Muskoka Chairsproducts made from recycled plastic bagsproducts made from recycled plastic bags

Reusable Bags are not Recyclable in Canada

Le Journal de Montreal, January 2011:

“In ecological jargon, we say that a product is considered green when it complies with the three “R’s”.

  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle

Reusable bags meet the first two criteria, because of the quantity of bags used, and of course, because they are reusable...but not the third, because in practice most of them are not recyclable. The bags they replace do not meet the first criterion, but partially the second (they often have other uses such as garbage bags) and can be recycled.”

Plastic Shopping Bags are Used to Recycle Organics in Toronto


1  End markets. NS & ON MOE, Recycling Councils
2   Decima Research, 2005