San Francisco Environment Department

Now that single-use plastic bags are banned, what should I use to line my bins?

Now that many residents are bringing their own bags to the grocery store, they no longer have extra bags on hand for their household bins. Here are some tips for alternatives to using single-use bags as liners.

Recycling bin: no liner needed 

  • With dry and cleaned recyclables, no liner is needed for your recycling bin and recyclables can be emptied directly in your blue curbside bin.

  • Another option is to reuse a brown paper bag or cardboard box as many times as possible. When it gets soiled, compost it.

Composting bin: find a compostable liner that works for you

  • Use a soiled cardboard to-go container or a milk carton, newspaper, or a reusable container (rinse as needed). 

  • Freeze your compostables and avoid all liners! Freezing compost prevents leaks and smells.

  • Purchase compostable bags to line your compost bin (make sure they are certified “compostable”). Learn how you can get a free kitchen compost pail from Recology

Landfill bin: think small 

  • Very little actually belongs in this bin except for some chip bags or broken ceramics, so you can use any small container - even a coffee can! No liner is needed and your landfill materials can be dumped directly in your black bin. You can rinse the bin as necessary.

  • If you do end up using a paper or plastic bag, try to reuse it as many times as possible.

The Department of the Environment strives to help residents waste as little as possible. Share your zero waste recycling, composting, or landfill collection strategies with us on Facebook or Twitter, or email us.

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