Can Dog Food Bags Be Recycled?

According to the APPA (American Pet Products Association), Americans spent $42 billion on pet food and treats in 2020, which is estimated to increase to more than $44 billion in 2021.

With 70% of households in the United States owning at least one pet and 69 million of these being dogs, chances are you have some dog food packaging lying around that you’re looking to recycle.

The main question we’re discussing today is: can dog food bags be recycled? The short answer is, most dog food bags are not recyclable. Keep reading to find out more.

What are Dog Food Bags Made Of?

The majority of pet owners, including dog owners, purchase food for their pets in bags. The reasons for this are simple:

  • Food bags are less expensive.
  • Food bags are available in bigger size options, which eliminates the need for buying pet food as frequently.

In the past, pet food used to be packaged in bags consisting of multiple walls. These were a more sturdy form of grocery stores’ paper bags.

Over the recent years, the pet food industry has shifted to using polypropylene (also known as “plastic #5”) in manufacturing dog food bags because it’s a more durable material compared to paper. Despite having a similar appearance to a paper bag, polypropylene bags won’t tear if you try to rip them.

Polypropylene is a common material featured in the production of a wide range of items from laundry baskets to reusable bags to yogurt containers. Unfortunately, polypropylene is quite limited when it comes to recycling, so your curbside program probably won’t accept it.

Is Paper Packaging Recyclable?

The fact that your dog food is packaged in a paper-based bag doesn’t mean it’s recyclable, even though you may be led to believe the opposite.

If you want to be sure, follow the simple rule of thumb that goes: if you can easily tear apart the paper bag by hand, then it’s recyclable. If you find it difficult to rip the bag by hand, it’s probably not recyclable.

Most dog food bags feature paper and plastic layers as lining to preserve their contents for a long time. These layers are typically sealed together and shouldn’t be separated or recycled.

If the layers of the bag can be separated, then recycling may be possible. Also, if the dog food bag is made from plastic only, it may be recyclable with other types of plastic bags.

Can Dog Food Cans be Recycled?

Wet dog food is usually sold in steel cans. According to the AISI (American Iron and Steel Institute), steel isn’t just 100% recyclable, but it’s also the most commonly recycled material in the world.

Consequently, dog food can be recycled the same way coffee cans or soup cans are recyclable. Even the presence of BPA (Bisphenol A) in the lining of some canned food won’t affect the recyclability of the can. This is because the liner layer is simply burned off during recycling.

PuppyLists is written by J., who has owned, trained, volunteered with, and loved dogs for nearly three decades. When she isn't writing or researching, she's out adventuring with her 14 year old Lab mix.