Paper Bags


Clean and dry paper bags may be placed in the recycling.

Paper bags that have been decorated with glitter, glue, paint, and/or tape should be placed in the trash. These items are contaminants and render them nonrecyclable.

Depending on your city, food-soiled bags made of 100% brown kraft paper may be allowed in the organics container. Does my city accept food scraps and food-soiled paper in the organics container?

  • Commercial Accounts: Athens can provide food scrap collection for most business accounts. Check your city for verification.
  • Residential Accounts: Currently, not all cities have added food scrap collection to their services. Check your city for verification.

If you do not have an organics container (that also accepts food scraps and food-soiled paper), please place food soiled paper bags in the trash.

Brown Paper Bag

Recycle Bags With Handles

Paper bags can be recycled even if they have handles attached with adhesive. A small amount of adhesive will not contaminate paper recycling. If the handle is not made of paper, remove it before recycling the bag.

Soiled Paper Bag

Soiled Bags Are Not Recyclable

Wet or soiled bags should be thrown away or composted because food residue and grease contaminates recycling. If only part of the bag is soiled, remove it and recycle the rest.


Gift Bags Usually Not Recyclable

Sometimes gift bags can be recycled, but if they have a glossy coating, they are most likely a mix of plastic and paper and cannot be recycled. Learn more about reusing, reducing and recycling gift bags.

Ways to Reduce

Reusable Lunch Sack

Bring Your Reusable Bags

Skip paper bags altogether and bring your own reusable bags, which reduces how much you need to throw away or recycle.

Ways to Reuse

Reuse Paper Bags

If your paper bag is still in good condition, try reusing them as many times as you can.

Gift Wrapped in Brown Paper

Use As Wrapping Paper

Paper bags can be cut up and used as wrapping paper for small gifts. Larger shopping bags can also be used as book covers.

Did You Know?

Paper Bags: Not as Eco-Friendly as They Seem

Plastic bags have their problems but so do paper bags. Although paper bags do degrade much faster than plastic bags, it takes nearly double the resources to create a paper bag than one made out of plastic. That’s why reusable products are better than paper or plastic bags.

How Paper Gets Recycled