How can I reuse or recycle the plastic bags from cereal boxes?

Like tin foil the other week, I can’t believe we haven’t covered this one already.

To extend the product shelf lift and to protect it from moisture, most breakfast cereal is wrapped in some sort of plastic – either a snug film wrapping or, more frequently, a plastic bag/liner – inside its cardboard box.

The bags tend to be made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is resin code 2 and so is theoretically recyclable wherever type 2 plastics are collected. (Do check with your local councils/collection spot though – some places don’t accept film type packaging, even when they accept the same resin code in bottle form.)

But what about reuses before recycling?

My father-in-love stores bread in them since they’re better quality than any sandwich bag you could buy for the purpose. Other people cut them open to use instead of wax paper when preparing many sticky items for baking, or when freezing things like burgers or dough.

What do you do with yours? What are your favourite recycling ideas?

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38 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle the plastic bags from cereal boxes?”

  1. Dani says:

    I trim the top of the bags neatly and use them, together with recycled milk bottle tops, to hold my vegetable seed packets together – sorting them into four packets to follow the following crop rotation system:

    1 potatoes (including tomatoes and capsicum);
    2 miscellaneous ( sweetcorn, spinach, beetroot, marrow, pumpkins, lettuces);
    3 root (carrot, parsnips, celery, fennel, onions and garlic);
    4 legumes & brassica (peas, beans, cabbages, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, swedes and turnips.


    They work a treat :-)

  2. Bellen says:

    As we rarely have boxed cereal in the house, I only have a couple at a time so ..
    I have one that I collect crusts, crumbs, bits and pieces of cereal & crackers – when about 1/3 full I clip the end closed and using a rolling pin crush for all-purpose crumbs – then using a jar to store them.

    I use one to store bacon in the freezer – I cut a pound of bacon into thirds, leaving the outer wrapper on, then store in the bag and clip or staple the end shut. When needed, the 1/3s come out easily.

  3. janet says:

    If you live in England, Sainsburys take them in their plastic recycling bins.

  4. Jane says:

    I recently read about cereal boxes themselves being turned into some type of file storage folders. I can’t remember the method exactly, but it certainly looked easy and doable.

  5. Melinda says:

    I’ve cut them up to use between hamburgers when I freeze patties so that they separate easily.

  6. SMucciardi says:

    I put meat in the bag before I tenderize it wilth a mallet. It is sturdier than cellophane, keeps the mallet clean, and keeps meat juices or particles from splattering around.

  7. Kayci says:

    I like to cut them up using the plastic shopping bag method and turn it into plarn to make reuseable shopping totes and things out of. They tend not to stretch as badly as the flimsy plastic shopping bags.

  8. Heather says:

    We cut them up and use them to cover our dishes when we microwave things. keeps the microwave clean and doesn’t waste papertowels. We recently started using them when we tenderize our meat, but I like the idea of keeping them whole to do it.

  9. They could be used as temporary holders for plants whilst they are in the greenhouse (fill them with earth, add seed, then plant – the bag would make it easy to transplant them to their final destination (allotment, etc).

  10. carol says:

    I use the bags to refreeze things, and the boxes I cut patterns out of, they are great for that.

  11. I use them to empty an ash tray into (okay I confess: I do smoke occasionally) – tightly folded, the plastic bag then goes into a bread wrapper and the whole package keeps out the smells.

  12. Lynn says:

    I sewed one into a reusable baggie, putting velcro on the top of it for closing. I cut it into the size I wanted, then used a regular sewing machine and whipped it out in no time! I’ve only done one so far, but some day…!

  13. Rúna says:

    I work in a library. We put Vistafoil plastic on every book. The plastic comes on a vaxed paper that just piles up here.
    Do you have any ideas how we can recycle the vaxed paper?
    Or better still, reuse it?

  14. Rúna says:

    Sorry, this post went to a wrong place:-(

  15. becky says:

    i just use mine as bin bags in my room! it’s amazing how much food comes in bag wrappers which are just thrown away in black bin bags – me and my boyfriend must have saved a fortune by just using empty cereal, bread, banana, etc bags!

    • Kathleen says:

      What the heck are bin bags?

      • j.j. says:

        What planet are you on?

      • Kathleen says:

        jj–I’m on planet Earth. Are you here too? HaHa!!

        Perhaps rather than planet you should have asked “What country are you living in on planet Earth?” Yes?

        So, what the heck are bin bags? Are they plastic grocery bags or what?


      • Laura says:

        Hi Kathleen, I’m in England and I’m not as rude as j.j.!

        Bin bags are what we use to put our household rubbish in (garbage I think you call it?), and then leave outside for collection by the “bin men” – the colloquial name for refuse collectors. They are just large black plastic bags.

        Actually more and more areas are now switching to “wheely bins” which are large plastic bins on 2 wheels provided to every household to put our rubbish into, rather than the bags which are easily torn apart by scavenging animals.

        Hope this helps!

  16. Jan says:

    Lets not kid our selves its not about saving any money. I just checked and you can buy 1,000 of these sized plastic bags for about £8 so even if we had a huge house with loads of bins, it is unlikely to save us more than that each year. The reason we are doing this is to save plastic floating around the oceans etc.

  17. Kathleen says:

    Laura, Yes that definitely helps. I really like this website. It is a big help to me. Right now I’m giving up on those dryer sheets my girls talked me into. Just ran out and not buying any more. I look at each item I go to put in my “bin bag” and try to think hard about each one. I end up saving too much stuff that way though…stuff no one on freecycle would even want…got to get to work on that. Ha Ha!!

    j.j. wasn’t too rude. I thought he was kinda cute. His imagination of the world and the www is a bit limited to his belly button, that’s all. Most times mine is too!!

  18. Victoria says:

    Those are not plastic, they are waxed paper. I keep them and use when rolling pie dough. Also, I cut out circles, and place between raw burgers, so they do not get stuck to each other in a freezer.

  19. Victoria says:

    i think they can be used to wrap lunch as well.

  20. Olia says:

    They can be used to trace an image.

    • Mark says:

      “They can be used to trace an image.”

      Great idea Olia! I’ll save a few for our kids’ craft cupboard. (Canada)

  21. Rachel says:

    I turn inside out clean off dust and use for sandwich bags, freezer bags, tracing they are so strong and neat to fold. I do silk painting so also use the box cut to the shape I want to use as a backing base for my silk paintings cheaper than buying board or frames

  22. Denise says:

    I use them to sew into reusable shopping bags which I give away to friends and family to TRY to get them to reuse them instead of using the store’s bags! I trim off the ends that were sealed and use them as if they were fabric! Some I make double thick for heavier items, but one thickness is plenty sturdy enough for most grocery items. I also use them for placing between burgers in the freezer, to cut into pattern pieces, and for doing crafts. The cardboard boxes get used for cardstock for making greeting cards and such, and also for patterns and crafts! I’ve never tried the yarn trick, but I will now! Thanks!

  23. Uluska says:

    I wonder if grocery stores would take them back to reuse as grocery packages? They should.

  24. Olia says:

    Make out of this paper transparent envelopes to store scrap book materials, scraps of fabric, photographs, etc.

  25. Olia says:

    For interesting decorative effect, cover a mirror with smooth or purposefully wrinkled waxed paper. Then frame it.

  26. Danielle says:

    I have found two excellent uses for cereal bags.

    When I purchase fruits and vegetables, I remove them from the plastic bags that they were in when purchased and I put them in cereal bags. I found that they remain fresh for a very long time. It doesn’t seem to work for carrots or bananas though.

    When I am emptying the cat litter or picking up our dogs’ waste from our backyard, these bags are extremely strong and odour-proof.

  27. Galina says:

    When storing homemade raviolies in a freezer, place waxed paper between each layer so they don’t freeze together.

  28. Galina says:

    This paper can be cut in particular shapes. Glue the shapes to the window where you want to create more privacy.

    Gone can practice sewing using this paper as not to spoil fabric.

    Works as tracing paper, just use the marker.

  29. Connie S says:

    I open the packets out and wipe them down, then cut some of them into different sizes. Small ones I use between slices of thick cut bread to put in the freezer. Long ones I use on a tray to freeze sausages and the big ones I use on a tray to freeze fruit(blackberries picked from the hedgerows) and vegetables. Things don’t get stuck together on this paper. I’m so glad others have found uses for this paper as well and have learned more uses from the comments.

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