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The polyethylene used in most plastic shopping bags is either low-density (resin identification code 4) or, more often, high-density (resin identification code 2).Some modern bags are made of vegetable-based bioplastics, which can decay organically and prevent a build-up of toxic plastic bags in landfills and the natural environment.Plastic shopping bags are in most cases not accepted by standard curbside recycling programs; though their composition is often identical to other accepted plastics, they pose problems for the single-stream recycling process, as most of the sorting equipment is designed for rigid plastics such as bottles, Heavy-duty plastic shopping bags are suitable for reuse as reusable shopping bags.Lighter weight bags are often reused as trash bags or to pick up pet feces.The same properties that have made plastic bags so commercially successful and ubiquitous—namely their low weight and resistance to degradation—have also contributed to their proliferation in the environment.

Large buildups of plastic bags can clog drainage systems and contribute to flooding, as occurred in Bangladesh in 19 If washed out to sea, plastic bags can be carried long distances by ocean currents, and can strangle marine animals.The company's patent position gave it a virtual monopoly on plastic shopping bag production, and the company set up manufacturing plants across Europe and in the US.However, other companies saw the attraction of the bag, too, and the US petrochemicals group Mobil overturned Celloplast's US patent in 1977.these bags are sometimes called single-use bags, referring to carrying items from a store to a home.However, reuse for storage or trash is common, and modern plastic shopping bags are increasingly recyclable or biodegradable.

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