I noticed a blurb on a Tom's of Maine toothpaste tube: "Recycle this and other packaging through the TerraCycle collection program ..."
The Tom's of Maine page
says:Together, we'll transform packaging waste, regardless of brand, into useful, new products and lighten the load on landfills.
- Toothpaste tubes, deodorant containers, plastic soap wrappers, mouthwash bottles and dental floss containers
- All brands accepted, not just Tom's
This sounds like a good thing. Besides toothpaste tubes, most deodorant containers (of the brands I've used) don't have a recycling number on them, so I can't put them with the regular recyclables that are collected by the county.
The corresponding TerraCycle
page indicates that they also take toothbrushes, another thing I've never been able to turn in for recycling before.
You don't even have to pay for shipping the items; they'll provide you with shipping labels.
TerraCycle has additional similar programs
for recycling other products that usually aren't recyclable, including writing instruments (pens, pencils, markers), drink pouches, and snack bags.
Something about it all raises my suspicions though. Watching a few of their videos indicates that they do either of 2 things with the items sent in. It's the "upcycling" part which bothers me, whereby the packaging is flattened (and laminated?) and sewn together to create bags, pouches, etc. with the various brand names prominently displayed (for example, this CapriSun backpack
). How many people would really want to buy bags and such with brand-names prominently displayed like that? This seems corny and marketed to people who would see something like that and think "cool, it's obviously recycled, so I should therefore buy it". Now, I'm all for buying items made out of recycled materials, but I wouldn't buy a bag like that... unless I was feeling very very fond of the company whose brand was being displayed.
The other part, where they flatten and shred the items in order to make plastic pellets and other such materials makes much more sense to me. But I wonder what kind of materials they really can make from some of these items, like plastic/aluminum composite drink pouches and snack bags, and how much of a market is there for those materials. Is this really a profitable business model? Or is it mainly intended to allow the various companies whose items are recycled to market themselves as "green"?
Many of the listed recycling programs ie. "brigades" include a brand-name, eg. "Snack Bag brigade sponsored by Frito-Lay", where apparently that company sponsors the program. But most of the FAQs indicate that they take any brand of item to recycle, not only items from the listed company.Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comments there:
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