Thursday, August 21, 2008

Recycling Plastic Gift Cards (and Other Plastic Cards)

What do you do with a gift card when it's been used? Throw it in the trash? Even if you hand it to the cashier when you've used it at a store, most likely she throws it in the trash, too. They are so small that it doesn't seem like that big a deal, right? But, like all the rest of our trash, it adds up.

According to the Earthworks website, "over 75 million pounds of PVC material from plastic cards enters our waste stream every year." That's astounding! Another astounding statistic - "10 billion new gift cards are placed into circulation each year." Earthworks is a company that recycles plastic gift cards and other plastic cards into new sheets of plastic to make new gift cards or other materials.

It's not just gift cards that Earthworks can recycle - driver's licenses, student i.d. cards, library cards, credit cards, hotel card keys and shopper loyalty cards can all be recycled, too. I would hope that these cards with their sensitive information would be shredded before being sent to the facility, but there is no mention of that on the website. 

Although there is information for consumers on their site, there is no specific mailing address to send in your cards. There is contact information, though.

The site also has a page urging retailers to collect used cards and have them recycled. Just think about all those Target and Toys R Us cards that get used in the month after Christmas. If just those two retailers alone collected and recycled their cards I bet millions of pounds of cards would not end up in the trash.
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