Publix Recycling Bins

Part of our mission statement is to be intolerant of waste, and to be involved as responsible citizens in our communities. To stay true to this mission, initiatives we’ve participated in have included the instruction of our front-service clerks on proper bagging techniques, bag reduction goals for every store and communication campaigns to encourage the use of reusable bags. Since 2007, we have distributed 54 million reusable bags. When you decide to purchase a bag, ten cents of the bag purchase go to support sustainability projects in local communities.

One of the questions we get most at Publix is what happens to our plastic bags after they’re returned to the recycling bins in the front of our stores? We’ve partnered with our Sustainability team to provide more information to you.

Publix Recycing Plastic Bin

The recyclables (plastic bags, paper bags, foam trays and egg cartons) that customers bring back to our stores are loaded on our trucks and sent to our return centers. When they arrive here, they are co-mingled with other like recyclables. From there, our recyclers pick up the material. It is then processed and sold to be made into other items. Some of these items include:

  • Low-maintenance fencing
  • Composite deck boards
  • Building and construction products
  • New plastic bags

Unique Facts:

  • Plastic bags use 71% less energy to produce than paper bags and less than 6% of the water needed in the manufacturing process. These statistics are based on a bag capacity rating of one paper bag to 1.5 plastic bags.
  • Plastic bags generate 39% less greenhouse gas emissions than non-composted paper bags, and 68% less greenhouse gas emissions than composted paper bags.
  • Plastic bags generate 4,645 tons of CO2 equivalents per 150 million bags, while non-composted paper bags generate 7,621 tons, and composted paper bags generate 14,558 tons, per 100 million bags produced.
  • After four or more uses, reusable plastic bags are superior to all types of disposable bags —paper, polyethylene and compostable plastic — across all significant environmental indicators.

Now that you’re familiar with the process of what happens to plastic bags after they’re returned to our recycling receptacles, our Sustainability teams provided us with more information about the difference between plastic and paper bags, and their impact on the environment.

Publix Recycling Paper BinPaper or Plastic?

Did you know?

  • Paper does not degrade or break down at a substantially faster rate than plastic does. Due to the lack of water, light, oxygen and other important elements necessary for the degradation process to occur, nothing completely degrades in modern landfills.
  • Even though traditional disposable plastic bags are produced from fossil fuels, the total non-renewable energy consumed during their lifecycle is up to 36% less than the non-renewable energy consumed during the lifecycle of paper bags and up to 64% less than that consumed by biodegradable plastic bags.
  • Using paper bags generates almost five times more solid waste than using plastic bags.



Did you know about all the efforts Publix takes to be sustainable? Learn more here.

Matthew L.

Written by

Matthew L. started with Publix in 2009. After working his way up to a Publix Manager, Matthew decided to make a change from retail and pursue his passion for writing. Matthew enjoys hearing stories from the people he's writing about and loves the Publix culture. Outside of work, Matthew enjoys spending time with his wife and their dog, Edmund. They love to explore all that Central Florida has to offer.

2 Comments on “Recycling your Plastic Bags at Publix


    Thanks for the information, Matthew. I recall reading a while back that customers could also include things like the plastic film wrappings that toilet paper and paper towels come in. Has that changed?

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