Recycling No. 3, 4 and 5 plastics: Where to do it?

Whole Foods apparently has stopped taking these containers. Anyone find a good solution for doing the right thing to dispose of these?

If I don't figure something out soon, they'll start taking over the house!

Thanks in advance. 

 


I think you’re going to get answers along the lines of “stop buying the products that come in those containers.” I have a cousin who is a zero waste enthusiast, and that would be her answer...


Heynj said:

I think you’re going to get answers along the lines of “stop buying the products that come in those containers.” I have a cousin who is a zero waste enthusiast, and that would be her answer...

 Well, too late now. We got 'em and now they gotta go. 


Our trash gets incinerated, so for now I am  just throwing them out.   It pains me, but I have found nothing better.


Problem is that #s 4, 5, and 6  plastic are ending up in landfill, even if "recycled."  There simply is no longer a market for any of this.  You could try repurposing the containers if they would work for storage or crafts projects.  Otherwise, tossing them may be your only option.  Avoiding purchasing them in the future is probably your best option going forward. 


I've been wondering about this as well.  The other day, we were dismayed to discover that the bin at Whole Foods had been removed.  I just spoke at length to Tina Becker of Preserve, the company that founded the Gimme 5 program.  She said that the problem with the Whole Foods collection was that there was a lot of contamination among the 5 plastics, and it became obvious that the financial equation didn't make sense, given the human-power necessary to ensure the cleanliness and appropriateness of the items in the collection bins. 

I asked if someone could drive a carload of plastics up to Cortlandt, NY, the location of their facility, and she said that they don't have a place in the reception area where they could receive it.  I wasn't the first person to ask that question.   

The option that remains is to mail no. 5 plastics.  I'm now wondering if a special rate could be worked out with USPS -- obviously after the government transition. 

Here's the Gimme 5 website:  https://www.preserve.eco/pages/gimme5-overview


Recycling 4,5,6 plastics is a myth.


I'm a fan of your informative posts about the weather, so I suspect you've thoroughly researched this issue.  Can you explain why you say that 4 through 6 plastics aren't really being recycled.  Preserve, the company that operated Gimme 5, says that they do, as does a company called Terracycle down in Trenton.  I noticed that Hoboken is collecting No. 5 plastic, so I contacted the recycling manager for Hoboken and was told that the city has a contract with a company called Atlantic Coast Fibers that recycles No. 5.  There's a gulf between what ostensibly happens and what truly happens in recycling, as that NPR article attests, but I'm wondering why you say the recyling of these particular plastics is a myth.  


Anything is possible (recyclable), but it becomes a question of cost effectiveness.  

If it is not cost effective, then the only option left, is for consumers to pressure manufacturers to use only packaging that can be cost effectively recycled.  You can do this in terms of letting this influence what you buy, or by contacting the manufacturer directly.

However, in many cases the recycling mark is not easily visible at the point of purchase, so it is difficult to address the issue at that point.  


At this point, we have three large bags of No. 5 plastics, and I am on the track of what to do with them.  Preserve and Terracycle will recycle PP, as propylene plastic, aka No. 5, is known.  With Preserve, you have to mail it to them, which is expensive.  Terracycle sells postage prepaid boxes, but they are also expensive.  I have yet to see a yogurt container that's made of No. 1 or 2 plastic, and take out containers are usually No. 5.  Seems to me the answer would be for the town to contract with a recycler that processes No. 5, as Atlantic Coast Fibers does.  


Elle_Cee said:

At this point, we have three large bags of No. 5 plastics, and I am on the track of what to do with them.  Preserve and Terracycle will recycle PP, as propylene plastic, aka No. 5, is known.  With Preserve, you have to mail it to them, which is expensive.  Terracycle sells postage prepaid boxes, but they are also expensive.  I have yet to see a yogurt container that's made of No. 1 or 2 plastic, and take out containers are usually No. 5.  Seems to me the answer would be for the town to contract with a recycler that processes No. 5, as Atlantic Coast Fibers does.  

 I'd love to see more recycling, but right now we are pressed to keep what we have.


I too noticed the Gimme 5 container now missing from Whole Foods. The story I heard was different about why they temporarily removed it but it had to do with the pandemic. For those who say stop using it. Please explain how I get take out Italian that uses #5 or even yogurt that does as well? Not a very helpful suggestion. I checked about the Cortland shipping and yes it's ridiculous to that. We can all try to pool this. Or perhaps someone with more time than I have can have a substantive conversation with the current DPW head. Whoever that is. I know the prior one is gone and the best one - Eric Burbank - is retired.


wendy said:

I too noticed the Gimme 5 container now missing from Whole Foods. The story I heard was different about why they temporarily removed it but it had to do with the pandemic. For those who say stop using it. Please explain how I get take out Italian that uses #5 or even yogurt that does as well? Not a very helpful suggestion. I checked about the Cortland shipping and yes it's ridiculous to that. We can all try to pool this. Or perhaps someone with more time than I have can have a substantive conversation with the current DPW head. Whoever that is. I know the prior one is gone and the best one - Eric Burbank - is retired.

 The Town Engineer is now also heading DPW.  I doubt there would be any interest from the town when it comes to providing recycling for #5 plastic.  It is just too difficult to find someone who will take it and too expensive for the town to take on even if someone who would take it could be found.  As to problems with products such as Italian take out and yoghurt only being available in #5 containers, there is a bring your own refillable container movement gaining popularity in some places.  This may be something we can explore here.  COVID is a bad time for this but once things get back to what we used to call normal, it could gain some traction.


As said above, anything is possible given enough money, but that is not the point.  If it is not cost effective to recycle materials, then creating the perception (which I referred to as a myth) that they can be easily recycled encourages use, when what we need to be doing is discouraging the manufacture and use of these materials and their replacement or elimination.  Joan posted one suggestion.  You can do some of that at the General Store Cooperative on Springfield Ave.  There are several vendors there, the two I have used and can recommend are:

https://www.goodbottlerefillshop.com/

https://www.drygoodsrefillery.com/shop

I understand that, especially in these COVID times but also in general, food vendors who do take out are in a rough place regarding these containers, especially local restaurants who cannot afford to develop alternative containers.  Pressure has to be brought to bear on manufacturers collectively, through information campaigns, social media, and the legislative and regulatory processes to discourage the use of plastics and develop safer alternative products and processes.




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