Can You Recycle Chip Bags? (All You Need To Know)

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Jean Richardson

Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

Recycling, green living, and sustainability practices are all important in the current day and age. Everyone wants to do their part to help the environment and our wildlife.

Yet, some materials are not able to be easily recycled, including the materials of one of the most popular snacks: chips.

Therefore if you’re a frequent chip eater you might be wondering, what is the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of your chip bags? Well, continue reading to find out the answer!

Can You Recycle Chip Bags?

Chip bags are made up of several materials, including both plastic and aluminum. These materials are unable to be separated, thus the bag cannot be recycled. That said, there are several ways to go about reusing chip bags in order to practice more sustainable living such as using them as confetti or a new wallet. 

If the idea of creating more waste bothers you, consider reusing rather than recycling your old used chip bags, or learning about other ways your chip bags can be properly disposed of. Read on to learn more!

How Do I Dispose of My Chip Bags?

Chip bags do not pass the crinkle test, this means that when you crinkle the bag, once you release it the bag will return to the original shape.

This is an easy test to determine whether or not the bag is recyclable.

If the bag remains crinkled, it is usually made of recyclable material, whereas if it does not then it best belongs in the trash. Chip bags consist of the following materials:

  • Polypropylene
  • Aluminum
  • Polyethylene
  • Nitrogen

This complex mixture of materials means the recycling plants do not have the tools necessary to separate each layer and recycle materials separately.

However, the process, being too complex and time-consuming, is not possible for these large plants. That said, there is one program that does offer the possibility of recycling.

Terracycle

Terracycle is a United States-based recycling company that is headquartered in New Jersey.

Furthermore, Terracycle operates by collecting non-recyclable materials, such as your average chip bag, and turning them into raw materials.

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These raw materials then get used to make new products. What makes Terracycle so easy is that it collects your chip bags via mail-in service.

It is completely free to you and they offer prepaid mailing labels to collect your used snack bags.

Furthermore, anything from snack size to family size bags is accepted.

Terracycle has even paired up with companies like Frito Lay and Kraft in order to streamline their recycling efforts.

Some of the new materials they can make out of old chip and snack bags include:

  • Tote bags
  • Clipboards
  • Spray bottles
  • Umbrellas
  • Shower curtains

While chip bags typically cannot be recycled, Terracycle makes it possible to turn chip bags into new reusable items, lessening waste.

However, if using Terracycle to recycle your old chip bags does not work for you, disposing of them in a trash bag with the rest of your garbage is the best option.

What Is The Future of Chip Packaging?

What Is The Future of Chip Packaging?

The good news is that many chip companies recognize their lack of efforts in sustainability and are working on better packaging practices for the future.

With so many consumers becoming environmentally conscious, these snack companies need to keep up with the times and produce environmentally friendly products.

If they don’t, they’ll possibly risk losing business to companies who are doing that.

If mailing in your snack bags does not sound appealing, or feasible, there are still ways you can reuse your old chip bags in order to get the most out of your materials.

Are Chip Bags Biodegradable?

You may be left wondering if there are other ways you can dispose of your old chip bags without having them go to the landfill.

After all, once your chip bags make their way to the landfill they can take a long while to decompose.

Some chip companies have taken to making biodegradable chip bags, as many bags are not biodegradable and could take decades to break down.

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Additionally, once the bag does break down, microplastics can usually still be found within the soil.

However, this can be harmful to the small organisms living in the soil, as well as to plants and animals that come across it.

Sadly, chip bags often wash up on the shores of beaches resulting in sea life also being affected by them.

Can You Burn Chip Bags?

You may be wondering if it is possible to burn your chip bags, especially during those family camping trips where chip bags may appear to be good kindling.

However, it is never recommended to burn chip bags. The fumes released from burning the materials in the chip bags are toxic for you and the environment.

Furthermore, chemicals released from these burnt chip bags make their way into the atmosphere, soil, and even local water supplies.

So, this has far more damaging effects than just leaving your trash to eventually decompose naturally.

How Can I Reuse and Repurpose My Old Chip Bags?

Reusing your old chip bags may sound crazy, but there are plenty of projects that will allow you to reuse these old snack bags as opposed to throwing them away.

Some of these projects include:

  • Gift bags
  • Shoulder bags
  • Wallets
  • Crinkly baby toys
  • Party decorations

If you are crafty, it is easy to make spunky, fun upcycled products of your own to get the most out of your used snack bags.

In addition to being more environmentally friendly, they make for great trendsetting opportunities.

1. Gift Bags

As long as you flip your chip bag inside out and give it a good washing, it can make a surprisingly cute and trendy gift bag for a small gift or party favor.

Additionally, turning them inside out gives the gift a shiny, silvery appearance, and when wrapped with a bow or ribbon, these bags are perfect for any occasion.

2. Shoulder Bags

If you thought making accessories out of duct tape was the only trendy option, you are mistaken.

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Furthermore, several tutorial videos on YouTube walk people through the creation of various bags made out of upcycled chip packaging.

3. Wallets

Now that you have made a shoulder bag, why not go a step further and make a matching wallet?

Just like shoulder bags, wallets are also great options for a trendy accessory to upcycle your old chip bags.

Instructables is a website dedicated to providing user-friendly DIY projects. It even has an uploaded set of instructions for a chip bag wallet.

4. Crinkly Baby Toys

Babies love shiny, crinkly toys that offer an array of sensory experiences. These toys encourage tactile stimulation that babies need to learn about their environment.

Therefore, potato chip bags make the perfect inside for a fabric toy and will keep your little one entertained for hours.

5. Party Decorations

Old chip bags also make excellent party decorations. Therefore, shredding chip bags can make unique and colorful decorations, streamers, and confetti.

However, before using your chip bags as party decorations, make sure they are properly cleaned.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle acrylic plastic, what the 17 debunked recycling myths are, and what the 27 advantages and disadvantages of recycling are.

Conclusion

Chips are a favorite snack among many. Yet, the fact that they are made of non-recyclable materials means that they are potentially hazardous to the environment.

However, in this article, multiple ideas and options were said for how you can recycle and reuse chip bags.

If none of those options are appealing, throwing your chip packaging away in the trash may be the easiest option.

Furthermore, it is better to get rid of the packaging in the garbage as opposed to littering or burning your trash, which leads to further complications within the environment.

Author

  • Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

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