Hefty® EnergyBag® program FAQs

Find answers to some common questions about the Hefty® EnergyBag® program.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Hefty® EnergyBag® program?

The Hefty® EnergyBag® Program provides a simple, convenient solution for hard-to-recycle plastics such as plastic utensils, candy wrappers, pet food bags, and foam takeout containers that would otherwise be thrown away. The program is an easy addition to your current recycling routine, keeps these plastics out of landfills, and converts the materials into valued resources.

How does the program work? How can I participate?

It’s easy! If you live in a participating program area, simply buy the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags at your local store, fill the bag with accepted hard-to-recycle plastics, and when it’s full, tie it up and place it in your curbside recycling cart or bin, or take it to an approved drop-off facility, depending on your community. Your regular recycling truck will pick up the tied bags along with your normal recycling. The recycling center then separates these bags from other materials and sends them on to facilities that use the hard-to-recycle plastics as an energy resource — or break them down to create new and useful products.

Be sure to continue your normal recycling routine. The EnergyBag® program supplements conventional recycling – it does not replace it.

Who can participate?

See if your community is participating. As of August 2021, the Hefty® EnergyBag® program is available to more than 1,000,000 households in the U.S. Together, participants have helped divert more than 1,300 tons of hard-to-recycle plastics from the landfill.

What are the benefits of the program?

The Hefty® EnergyBag® program is an easy addition to what you are already doing recycling-wise. You can feel good about helping to make a difference in the amount of plastic that would otherwise end up in landfills and be a part of a community that cares about preserving our world for future generations. By participating, you are helping reduce dependence on fossil fuels and increasing the efficiency of your recycling facility.

Is there a cost to participate in the Hefty® EnergyBag® program?

The only cost for participants is the cost of the bags themselves. The purchase of a box supports the costs associated with the program operations, including the cost of manufacturing the bags, program transportation costs, and the additional costs incurred by the recycling and conversion facilities. Beyond the cost of the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags to residents who elect to participate, there is no additional charge.

What are “hard-to-recycle” plastics? How are they different than the plastic I already recycle?

Some plastics can be difficult to recycle because of their type, complexity, shape, size, or flexibility, and the challenges they can create for equipment at recycling facilities. Look for the small recycling symbols that are stamped on most plastic products; the number in the middle of the symbol is your guide. Numbers 1 and 2 are easily recyclable and should go with your regular recycling. Number 3 can be recycled at some, but not all, recycling facilities. Numbers 4 through 7 are the hard-to-recycle types. Most recycling facilities don’t have the equipment or sorting capabilities needed to process them, and end-markets for these materials are more challenging for them to deal with – harder to identify, harder to make cost-effective. Those are the plastics that go into the Hefty® EnergyBag® orange bags. 

What can go into the orange bags? What shouldn’t go into the orange bags?

Download the full list of the hard-to-recycle plastics accepted in the program and what shouldn’t go into the program bags.

Why are the Hefty® orange bags needed?

The specially designed Hefty® orange bags keep all the loose, hard-to-recycle plastics separate from the other materials that participants recycle. The bag is tough enough to survive the recycling truck. The bright color makes it easy for recycling facilities to separate and forward the materials they cannot process, so the hard-to-recycle plastics don’t contaminate metal, glass, paper, and other recycling streams. For the program to work, the bag must be plastic; any other material would contaminate the plastic resources inside it. The orange bag is made with 20% recycled materials and it becomes a resource right along with its contents. 

What happens to the collected Hefty® orange bags?

Right now, the collected hard-to-recycle materials mostly become energy resources and replace some of the coal that fuels the kilns used in cement manufacturing. In a few areas, they are converted to fuels (like diesel) via a process called pyrolysis. An independent life cycle assessment found that both solutions are environmentally better than simply sending hard-to-recycle plastics to landfills.* The materials can also be ground into smaller pieces to make new plastic products, including building products, construction materials, and plastic lumber. The Hefty® team continues to work with companies to help advance technologies that enable other end uses for the collected plastics. 

*Source: Sustainable Solutions Corporation and S&C, Hefty® EnergyBag® Program Life Cycle Assessment, August 2020. 


Still have questions? Contact us.

Participant & Product Questions: Contact Us.

Press, Municipalities, or Corporate Inquiries: Contact Us.

Recovery Facility (MRF) Inquiries: Contact Us.



How the EnergyBag® Program Works

When communities sign up for the Hefty® EnergyBag® program, local residents help keep hard-to-recycle plastics out of the landfill in just a few easy steps.

Hefty® Sustainability

In addition to our landmark EnergyBag® program, Hefty® recycled, recyclable, and compostable products can be found on store shelves across the U.S.

EnergyBag® Program News

Check out press releases and news articles to discover how the Hefty® EnergyBag® program is making a difference in communities.