While many of the materials in your everyday trash may be technically recyclable, there may not be a program to accept them locally. The material may either be too hard to sort in single stream recycling, or it may not be profitable meaning there is not a market for the material. That’s where mail-in recycling programs come in. Check packaging to see if an item has a mail-in recycling program. Everything from smoke detectors and blow dryers to muffin wrappers and baby food containers to board games and toys have mail-in recycling programs.
Terracycle.com is a great resource for mail-in recycling programs for hard to recycle items. Some have a cost associated, while others are sponsored by certain brands and are free. You simply print a shipping label, fill your box, and send it back to Terracycle for recycling. Some programs have enrollment limits and only accept a certain amount of material each year. You may have to sign up for a waitlist for a certain program. Some programs accept any brand of material, while others are brand specific.
Below is a list of some of the free collection programs for some common materials. These are just a few of the many extensive free programs offered. I strongly encourage you to visit Terracycle.com and explore the many other options.
- Food storage container collection program- this includes all brands of well used glass and plastic food storage containers, plastic bottles and lids, and plastic pitchers.
- Writing instruments and packaging collection program- this includes all brands of pens, mechanical pencils, highlighters, glue sticks, watercolor containers, and markers.
- Brita has a program for recycling it’s brand of filters, flexible plastic packaging, bottles, and containers/pitchers.
- Numerous programs for baby products- baby food containers and pouches, car seats, clothing, and toys all have free collection programs. Many of them are brand specific, take a look and see what programs are available.
- Oral care collection program- all brands of oral care products including toothpaste tubes and caps, toothbrushes and packaging, and floss containers.
- Drink pouch collection program- accepts aluminum and plastic drink pouches from all brands.
- #6 rigid plastic cup collection program- plastic cups are not accepted with household recycling in Ontario County, but any brand can be collected and returned through this program.
The next time you are out shopping check labels for information regarding mail-in programs. By supporting brands that have take-back or mail-in programs you can help to ensure companies respond to consumer demand for sustainability and recyclability.