Plastics IndustryBackground

Sustainable Industry

American-made, recyclable plastic carryout bags are the smartest, most environmentally-friendly choice at the checkout counter for retailers and consumers. Every lifecycle assessment of various carryout bags has shown that plastic retail bags have the smallest environmental impact when disposed of properly.

As many as 77 percent of plastic retail bags get reused for household tasks, offsetting their already minimal environmental impact and helping consumers avoid purchasing alternative products that may be more plastic- or resource-intensive.

ARPBA members are not just plastic bag manufacturers, they are plastic bag recyclers who purchase, collect, and recycle hundreds of millions of pounds of plastic bags and film each year. In 2021, over 1.1 billion pounds of plastic film were collected for recycling. Of that total, over 264 million pounds of plastic retail bags and film were collected through the store takeback program, a 7.9% increase from the year prior. This recycling value chain supports jobs throughout North America as more than 88 percent of these materials are claimed by U.S. and Canadian processors.

Recyclable Products

100-percent recyclable


Plastic retail bags are 100-percent recyclable when returned clean and dry through the industry-pioneered store takeback program. Materials recovered and recycled through this convenient program help the industry with its sustainability goals and increase the amount of recycled content in each bag produced. Next time you go to the store, be on the lookout for these labeled bins usually located near the front entrance.

This actively managed resource helps consumers locate drop-off bins in their community, educates consumers on proper recycling habits, and highlights other recyclable films that can be returned alongside bags. With thousands of drop-off locations across the country, over 90 percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a drop-off location.

Further, ARPBA announced that the industry exceeded the initial minimum recycled content threshold established in our sustainability commitment. As a result, every plastic retail bag in America contains, on average, a minimum of 10 percent recycled content and many product lines manufactured by ARPBA members contain substantially more.

American Jobs







U.S. manufacturers and recyclers of plastic bags employ more than 20,000 hardworking Americans across the country at more than 340 plants across more than 20 states.

ARPBA members are proud of their contributions to the U.S. economy and the communities they operate in. We are part of an industry that generates millions in annual economic output.

Beyond producing domestically manufactured, recyclable products that millions of American families rely on every day, America’s plastic bag manufacturers played an important role in our national response to the coronavirus pandemic. As supply chain disruptions and demand for PPE spiked, these facilities retooled operations to produce critical products that kept Americans safe on the frontlines of the pandemic.