9 Recycled Trash Bags For A Green(er) Garbage Can
We’re here to (trash)talk about one of the world’s most ubiquitous trashy items: garbage bags.
Specifically, recycled trash bags.
Because even the most hardcore low-waste living advocates find total waste reduction to be the most challenging aspect of greenifying one’s home routines.
With enough discarded items already facing the landfill, the plastic trash bag itself is one of the biggest contributors to microplastics, GHGs, and fossil fuel use on our planet.
Sure, we see countless reusable, recyclable, paper, biodegradable, and compostable options on the market today, but this means little by way of a real green solution, a lessened carbon footprint, reduced landfill waste, or fewer GHG emissions.
That’s because anything organic or bio-based decomposes anaerobically in a landfill (as opposed to aerobically in a compost bin), which releases methane gas that is 28x more deadly to the environment and our health than CO2.
We’re not here to get you down in the dumps; we’re here to develop a more sustainable alternative for waste management.
Recycled garbage bags may not break down any differently than virgin plastic ones, but at least they’ve lived a life or two before the inevitable dumpster-graveyard. They also reduce the need to use petroleum to produce new plastic and prevent the release of methane.
So ‘eco-friendly’ trash bags may still be an oxymoron, but there are at least more sustainable garbage bags than others.
Everything we recommend to you on Sustainable Jungle is independently researched and we ask all brands to confirm their claims. To avoid waste, we test products on an as needed basis. This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission. Learn more about why we do this here.
The Best Eco-Friendly Trash Bags Made From Recycled Plastic
Popular eco-home-hub Grove Collaborative offers some of the top recycled garbage bags today, featuring zero virgin plastic.
Beyond their recycled bags with 10% sugarcane plastic, Green Polly recently released a 100% post-consumer recycled content bag, which tickles us green with happiness.
Plastic can be circular, and Certified B Corp Full Circle proves it with their plastic bags that have gone full circle with 80% recycled content and all plastic neutralized via Plastic Bank.
Dumpster dive to the bottom of this article to find out how we found the best recycled trash bags.
The Full List Of Recycled Plastic Trash Bags
- Green Polly | Visit Store
- Grove Co | Visit Store
- Seventh Generation | Visit Store
- Envision | Visit Store
- Full Circle | Visit Store
- Earthsense | Visit Store
- Evolution Trash Bags | Visit Store
- simplehuman | Visit Store
- Enpack Eco Renew | Visit Store
Green Polly’s Eco-Friendly Trash Bags 13-Gallon
Price Range: $5–$20
GreenPolly offers some of the first of its kind: trash bags made from 80–90% post-consumer plastic and 10–20% bioplastic made of sugarcane.
The brand has also just released their first ever 100% post-consumer recycled content bags, certified by SCS.
Bags come with drawstrings and hold 13 gallons, which fits most trash can styles.
Packaged in recyclable cardboard and shipped in packaging made from recycled content.
To give back, the brand has donated more than 215,000 recycled plastic trash bags to communities in need of waste stream support.
2. Grove Co.
Grove Co’s 100% Recycled Trash Bags
Price Range: $7–$8
Their BPA-free recycled trash bags are sustainably made from reclaimed plastics already headed to the landfill—zero virgin plastic here.
Bags are offered with an easy tie top and two trash can sizes—4-gallon or 13-gallon.
Due to the mixture of recovered materials, color variations may occur from trash bag to trash bag. Rest assured, all are equal quality and highly durable.
The bags are manufactured in partnership with WasteZero, a Certified B Corp intent to cut trash down by 50% in the US by collecting single-use plastic waste to convert it into durable and strong trash bags.
Itself a Certified B Corp, Grove sells more than 150 other sustainable brands of home cleaning and personal care products, in addition to its own highly rated in-house brand of things like eco-friendly dishwasher tablets and eco-friendly carpet cleaner.
Product shipping is carbon offset through reforestation projects, and all purchases are plastic neutral via rePurpose Global.
Grove aims to be 100% plastic free by 2025 and publishes annual impact reports to ensure transparency.
3. Seventh Generation
Seventh Generation’s Earth Friendly Trash Bags
Price Range: $7
For more than three decades, Seventh Generation’s mission has been to transform the world into an equitable and sustainable place for the next seven generations—and beyond.
Their eco-friendly tall kitchen trash bags are reliable and mess-free, sold as 13-gallon bags with drawstrings and made of 65% recycled polymer.
Their Genecore® 3-layer technology sandwiches recycled material between two layers of virgin plastic for tear-resistant bags you can count on to keep kitchen trash contained.
A Canadian Certified B Corp, Seventh Generation hopes their products provide lasting solutions to problems like plastic waste, consumer trust, air pollution, and water health.
That’s why they create only the safest products for your family, and honor transparency by offering full formula lists.
The brand also maintains transparency by publishing an Annual Corporate Consciousness Report that provides full climate impact disclosure. Additionally, they publish their 2025 goals (which include 100% zero waste and 100% biobased materials) and the journey toward them.
The Seventh Generation Foundation gives back by stewarding social and environmental progress in communities they’re closely connected with.
While it may seem worrisome that the brand was acquired by Unilever, Seventh Generation uses this relationship to consult the corporate cleaning giant on how to clean up their often toxic products.
4. Stout by Envision
Stout by Envision’s 100% Recycled Trash Bags
Price Range: $30–$140
Say goodbye to trashy trash bags that create more mess and hello to strong and affordable waste management.
Stout by Envision’s Total Recycled Content Plastic Trash Bags are made from 100% recycled polymer resins, with at least 30% post-consumer recycled material.
These bags are so sturdy, they’re useful for work, home, commercial, or industrial use across a wide range of brown or black size options: 10, 33 45, 60, and 65 gallons.
Envision is a uniquely socially responsible American company employing an almost entirely sight-impaired staff. They also provide outreach, rehabilitation, education and research for the blind and visually impaired.
5. Full Circle
Full Circle’s Recycled and Recyclable Trash Bags
Price Range: $14–$18
Full Circle hopes for our plastic use to come full circle by offering recycled polymer trash bags that are made from 80% GRS-certified recycled plastics.
They’re sold as 13-gallon white eco-friendly kitchen trash bags or as 30-gallon black trash bags.
Customer reviews give these bags full scores for durability, affordability, and sturdiness.
Full Circle is a brand that has everything your household needs to keep it clean and wholesome—including eco-friendly lunch bags, sustainable mops, compost collection bins, silicone snack bags, and more.
As a Certified B Corp, the brand also works with Plastic Bank to become plastic neutral. That means any plastic Full Circle uses (such as their trash bags) is offset.
Earthsense’s Trash Bags Recycled Plastic
Price Range: $15–$89
Earthsense makes clear, white, and black trash bags a little more sensible for the Earth, thanks to their extensive line of trash bin liners and trash bags.
All are Certified Recycled Content by SCS Global Services.
Clear bags have at least 50% reprocessed resins and at least 30% post-consumer resins, while black and white bags contain 75% reprocessed resins and at least 10% post-consumer resins.
For those in building and construction, using this brand can help with government bids when recycled content is required and also may qualify for LEED sustainability points.
There is a huge range of sizes and bag types available, including extra heavyweight up to 2 millimeters thick.
Earthsense is a brand of Berry Global, who offer a transparent sustainability strategy, align themselves with the UN’s SDGs, seek to minimize product impacts, are finding ways to minimize operational impacts, have an ethics and compliance program and openly publish corporate responsibility reports.
They’re also one of the largest specialist plastic recyclers in the UK through Berry Circular Polymers with ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 accreditation.
EvolutionBags’ Eco-Friendly Garbage Bags
Price Range: $27
Keep evolution from total extinction with EvolutionBags 13-gallon white kitchen bags, made from 70% certified post-consumer recycled LLDPE (linear low-density polyethylene).
These sustainable garbage bags are EPA compliant, UL ECOLOGO certified, and SCS Global Services Certified as made of recycled materials. They also qualify for LEED building projects.
EvolutionBags are created with the highest percentage of third-party certified post-consumer recycled materials via a closed loop recycling process that ensures superior quality and minimal virgin plastics.
They partner with a large crop irrigation company to recycle the plastic tubing from their agricultural water tubes after use.
According to the brand, their closed loop recycling process has kept over 200 million pounds of plastic waste from landfills annually.
Made and shipped in the USA with only recyclable shipping materials.
simplehuman’s Box Of Recycled Kitchen Garbage Bags
Price Range: $20
Being a human nowadays isn’t always simple, but simplehuman’s 50% Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic High Performance Trash Liners are here to help.
These black kitchen trash bags help keep plastic out of our oceans, carbon out of our atmosphere, and bad smells out of your home with their 50% PCR plastic that is carbon-infused to naturally absorb garbage odors.
These small recycled unscented garbage bags are thick and have a double-seam construction to prevent rips and tears, no matter how full of stuff the bags are.
Trash bag packaging comes simple(human) with a recycling cardboard box and bags easily removed one-by-one from a large roll.
While Japan’s iconic trash can brand hasn’t always been known for its sustainability, today simplehuman is improving their eco-friendliness by making high performance products with more recyclable materials and less impact.
Since 2015, they’ve improved their sustainability by increasing the amount of PCR plastic in their products, which in turn helps create a world where recycled polymer is a high-value material.
9. Enpack Eco Renew
Enpack’s Eco Renew Recycled Plastic Garbage Bags
Price Range: $23
Enpack’s Eco Renew Tall Kitchen TwistTie Kitchen Bags are made from 100% recycled plastic and 30% post-consumer recycled content, so your trash can feel a little less dubious being sent to the landfill.
These thick, unscented 13-gallon white trash bags are multipurpose and usable for home, office, kitchen, lawn, commercially or industrially.
They claim they’re made in the USA, but we found at least one reviewer concerned they’re actually made in China, so we’ll be reaching out for more details from Enpack.
10. Can Trash Bags Be Recycled?
While The Guardian previously declared “plastic recycling is a myth,” the truth is that plastics can and are recycled globally—just not enough.
Only 9% of plastic waste is actually recycled and 22% is mismanaged, thanks to things like food scraps or a mislabeled recycling bin.
By 2050, plastic will outweigh all the fish in our oceans, where microplastics are also a scourge of our environment and health, found in most marine life today (including those we eat.)
They’re even been discovered within human placenta.
In other words: finding safe, effective, and cost-effective ways to recycle trash bags has never been more urgent on Earth.
Recycling soft plastics is also pricey—especially if they jam machines—so most recycling centers refuse grocery bags from the recycling stream.
Furthermore, the quality of plastic lessens every time it’s recycled, so there is a finite amount of times you can recycle plastic bags. This is different from, say, glass or metal that are infinitely recyclable without compromising quality.
If you are using purportedly “recyclable” garbage bags, first check with your local recycling plants if they consider trash bags recyclable. Oftentimes, they won’t as their flimsy nature and likely contamination can easily clog and break recycling machinery.
White Trash Bag:
Bags have an RIC (resin identification code) on them. If your recycling streams accept bags and your white ones have #2 or #4 on them, they will recycle them. This includes plastic grocery bags.
Black Trash Bag:
The most popular, hardest to recycle, and least eco-friendly trash bags since they’re melted into black pellets and cannot be re-dyed, which makes it a very specific recycling process.
Oftentimes facilities don’t recycle them because most include recycled polymer that often breaks machinery.
Clear Trash Bag:
This includes recycling ziploc bags, which are made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE). And although LDPE is recyclable, not all recycling centers accept soft plastics.
Recycling facilities accepting LDPE usually have a specific bin for it, or it can be combined with #4 type of plastics.
Clear Blue Trash Bag:
Both zero wasters and recycling facilities alike beg people to stop using these “recycling” bags because most facilities DON’T RECYCLE THEM.
In NYC, though, they are accepted, so check with your facilities.
Additional Recyclable Trash Bag Resources
Did you know we Have a Newsletter?
We cover the latest in sustainable living, fashion, zero waste, beauty, travel, finance and more…
Why Choose Recycled Trash Bags?
With so many compostable and biodegradable trash bags being touted as the most eco-friendly trash bags today, you may think they’re the best choice.
These bio-based bags are only worth their eco-weight if they’re properly disposed of.
Bioplastics tend to behave the same as regular plastic, taking lifetimes to completely break down.
They can never be recycled, shouldn’t go to landfills (their organic makeup will release methane gas,) and their only end-of-life outcome is a commercial composting facility—for which the US has just 185 full-scale operations.
While in the compostable vs biodegradable debate, compostable bags remain the winner—the latter being fraught with greenwashing, marketing gimmicks, and zero legal standards—both do more harm in landfills than their plastic counterpart.
What about paper bags?
Between deforestation issues, their quadruple-sized water and energy manufacturing footprint, their heavy weight, and scientific research indicating that in landfills they decompose as slow as plastic, we say leave the trees alone.
Where does that leave our trash?
The trashy truth is that if you plan on throwing your garbage away, recycled garbage bags are ironically the best trash bags for the environment because they’ve given a second life to already-made plastics, and they won’t release potent methane like bio-options do in landfills.
Of course, if you want to make your trash bags eco-friendly, our #1 sustainability tip is simply to use fewer trash bags by following zero waste principles: refuse, reduce waste, reuse, rot (AKA compost), and lastly recycle—in that order.
We can’t all lead a life that allows us to fit a year’s worth of trash into a mason jar—but huge props to those who (trash)can!
How We Found The Best Recycled Eco-Friendly Garbage Bags
We factored in a few considerations before giving the green seal to this list of the best eco-friendly kitchen trash bags.
Post-consumer recycled plastic, which is repurposed from plastic cast away by everyday consumers, is preferred over pre-consumer recycled plastic, which comes mostly from scraps on the assembly line.
Post-consumer recycled content is considered to have greater eco-benefits than pre-consumer recycled content because it has successfully been diverted from the landfill.
Some environmentalists argue pre-consumer recycled plastic is technically virgin, since the waste was never truly waste, and manufacturers have long found ways to use their trimmings and excess for financial rather than environmental reasons.
All this is to say that bags made of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic are the holy grail here, with decreasing amounts in a bag’s ingredients lessening the bag’s eco-value. Here are the recycled content certifications to look out for.
Sustainable & Ethical Business Practices:
We like it when those eco-friendly small trash bags also have a small(er) impact, through carbon offset programs or sustainable packaging.
We prefer if products are locally manufactured in the US with fair pay for workers, as opposed to dangerous, underpaid labor in places like China, Bangladesh, or India. Ethical manufacturing certifications can help to ensure this.
Final Thoughts On Garbage Bags Made From Recycled Plastic
Only trashy people litter the environment with waste without a conscience.
That’s why we congratulate you on choosing the lower impact option of recycled garbage bags.
By opting for recycled earth friendly garbage bags that give new life to plastic before it meets its inevitable fate, you’re helping to reduce GHGs and the epic amount of fossil fuels used to produce the very eco-un-friendly material.
But if you do opt for these recycled plastic bags, use at a minimum since the most important thing is to refuse and reduce where you can and reuse wherever you cannot.
The road to zero waste isn’t set in stone, and the amount of plastic our Earth is buried in also shouldn’t be set in stone.
So, the next time you see your trash bag happy neighbors dragging out their garbage curbside, drop some friendly eco-hints and pass along this article.