Thursday, August 7, 2008

Recycling Yogurt Containers - What are the Options?

Yogurt containers are one of those items that are technically recyclable, but finding where to do so is often difficult. If you look on the bottom of most yogurt containers, you'll see that there is a #5 inside the recycling symbol.

First of all a word about #5 plastic, which is actually polypropylene, from the
National Geographic Green Guide

Based on current knowledge, polypropylene is one of the safer plastics. It is not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting the hormones, and it's not made with chlorine and so doesn't produce dioxin when it's made or incinerated. One of the main problems with giving any plastic a blanket "safe" recommendation is that not enough health and safety research has been conducted on chemicals that leach.
Most residential curbside recycling programs don't accept #5 plastics. The majority of them only accept #'s 1 & 2. So while technically #5 is recyclable, finding a place that will accept plastics made from it for recycling is very difficult.

So what can you do with your yogurt containers and other #5 food containers? Here are some options.

Stoneyfield Farm containers - There is an explanation on their site as to why they choose to use #5 instead of #2. It's worth a read. They realize that it's not an easily recyclable item so they offer to accept them back and recycle them for you. From their site:

if #5 plastic recycling isn't available in your community, and you can't tolerate the idea of not recycling them, you are welcome to return your CLEAN Stonyfield Farm cups and lids to us, and we'll be sure they'll get recycled.

I think that's really great.

TerraCycle - This company collects Stoneyfield Farm yogurt containers (only Stoneyfield Farm) from organizations and upcycles them. Right now there is a waiting list to get into the program, but if you know a lot of people who eat this type of yogurt, you might want to get on the waiting list.

These are really the only two recycling programs I found out there if your community recycling program doesn't take the yogurt cups. However, there are plenty of ways to reuse yogurt cups at least one more time before they hit the trash.
  1. Drinking cups - One creative mom at washes the yogurt cups with lids, cuts an X in the lid and uses them as disposable drinking cups with straws. I also grabbed a whole stack of them once (without lids) and a container of ice water to take to the park with my boys and their friends. I had enough cups for them all to drink from and other kids who came along and asked if they could have some, too.
  2. Paint cups - When the boys and I do some painting, I use the washed out yogurt cups to hold the paint and as cups for the water for the brushes.
  3. Containers to start seedlings. We started all of our seedlings for our garden this year in yogurt cups. We poked holes with a small screwdriver in the bottom, filled them with organic soil, and planted our tomatoes and herbs in them.
  4. Snack cups - Yogurt containers make great snack cups for goldfish, pretzels or dry cereal.
  5. Candle molds - Soy candle kits can be purchased at craft stores, and you can make your own candles using the cups as molds. Hint: If you buy uncolored candle wax, you can melt crayon pieces and ad it to the wax to give the candles color.
There are probably dozen of other craft type projects you can do with yogurt containers with your kids, but the problem I see with doing craft projects as a way to recycle things is that eventually the craft projects end up in the trash, too, or you'll be up to your knee caps in kids' crafts.

What do you do with your yogurt cups?

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Elizabeth said...

hm, i was just wondering what to do with my ONE Stonyfield yogurt container. Unfortunately, i wasn't a fan of the yogurt (lowfat plain), so Terra probably won't be too interested in taking me on seeing as I won't be buying it again. Now if they start making a Greek style.... I'm down with their recycling offer.

kimberly said...

I think recycling is a great alternative to save our planet or decrease the pollution. I think this problem still have a sollution, just depend of us. We need to think about our vehaviour and make a change and start to make the difference.

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