Hefty Recycling Bags Not Recyclable

A class action lawsuit was filed earlier this month against the makers of Hefty Recycling bags alleging that their bags are not recyclable.

Hefty recycling bags

On the back of the box, the company claims the “bags are perfect for all your recycling needs.” And in a commercial on the Hefty website, they show that the bags can be filled with recyclables and put out at the curb or in your recycle box.

Hefty recycling
Click above to watch ad


The disclaimer, which is only on the screen for two seconds, says you need to check with your locality if you are actually allowed to put recyclables in plastic bags for pickup curbside. And an inconspicuous statement on the back of their boxes says that the product was developed for use in municipal recycling programs where applicable.

According to various recycling information sites, only a small number of cities and towns allow it because plastic bags tend to get caught in the sorting machines.

Don't recycle in bags

Although neither the product box nor the advertising explicitly says the bags themselves are recyclable, the lawyers contend that because the bags are explicitly used for recycling purposes that consumers will reasonably infer that the bags themselves are recyclable too. They also say that bags are made of a type of plastic that for practical reasons is not recyclable and may wind up in a landfill along with their contents.

Under the FTC’s Green Guides, sellers cannot claim directly or indirectly that their products are recyclable when such is not the case.

§ 260.12 Recyclable Claims.

(a) It is deceptive to misrepresent, directly or by implication, that a product or package is recyclable.

Reynolds, the maker of Hefty bags, did not respond to a request for comment in published stories.

We will have to wait to see if the company is able to get the case tossed out.

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5 thoughts on “Hefty Recycling Bags Not Recyclable”

  1. Obvious question: If you put your recyclables in a bin for pickup, why would you spend money on bags, “recyclable,” or not? Observation: I take mine to a recycling center. The stuff goes into a dumpster. Sign on dumpster says: “NO BAGS.”

    • We collect our recycling in the house in small bins, then empty those into the larger bin that goes to the curb. If we decided to bag them, we’d have to empty the bags into the large bin, then recycle the bags in bag recycling… for no reason! What a waste.

  2. This is just stupid and I hope Hefty loses.

    This ad is clearly in violation of advertising rules. There’s no question what Hefty is implying with this commercial. If they really cared about recycling they’d find some other solution like selling Hefty brand containers to put inside that house that you can dump outside later.

  3. I don’t see much of an issue here. I think all that needs to be done is Hefty issuing a disclaimer that the bags themselves are not recyclable on the box and not air misleading commercials about them. Perhaps they should even change the name to “Clear Trash Bags”. The bags themselves are fine and very useful. I use them all the time for cans and bottles that I redeem at the supermarket. When I’m done I either take the bag home with me for another use or put it in the trash bin at the supermarket. I also use them for clothing that I store in plastic tubs in my garage. I prefer being able to see through the bag at what’s inside so I can easily identify it.

  4. i put out recyclables in the brown paper bag i get when i go grocery shopping and drop it in the recycle bin when i fill it. our local trash authority begs people not to use plastic bags as it fouls their machines also.

    when it comes to plastic bags i try not to get them for anything but the Hartford Courant seems to love them…rain or shine my paper comes in between 2-3 plastic bags that say recycle on them.

    asked not to get bags but falls on deaf ears.

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