The holidays are long gone, but chances are you still have some gift cards floating around the house. What do you do when cards no longer have monetary value? Gift card recycling is an option.
Sadly, the majority of these polyvinyl chloride (PVC) cards end up in our landfills. An astonishing 75 million pounds of these plastic cards become part of the yearly waste stream. PVC is actually infinitely recyclable, so before you toss it into your nearest trash can, consider a few alternatives.
The good news is that these PVC cards can be recycled. Most cities are not equipped yet to accept them in a curbside recycling program, but there are mail-in programs where you can have your cards recycled. A company called Earthworks accepts plastic cards such as gift cards, library cards, video rental cards, ID cards and even old credit cards for recycling. The cards are cut up and then melted then down to create new sheets of PVC. Recycling helps prevent virgin materials from being used in the production of new cards. Approximately 10 billion PVC cards enter circulation each year.
This should give us pause to think before we throw. Companies such as Best Buy offer gift card recycling in their stores. Make sure to check with your local retailer to see if they offer gift card recycling. Have you heard of Terracycle? Be a leader and start your own brigade with Terracycle to take old and used products and make something new out of them.
Some companies offer other types of gift card materials. Whole Foods rolled out their line of paper pulp gift cards last year. The best kinds of cards are the ones that are biodegradable. Check your cards carefully though before you throw them onto your composting pile.
There are still alternatives before you need to even think about recycling. You can always repurpose them first. If you have empty gift cards lying around and you need a quick gift, place a monetary value on that same card. You don’t need to buy a new one. I do this frequently with my local grocery store chain when they offer gift cards as incentives. It is easy to add new value to them.
Some other cleaver repurposing ideas include making guitar picks out of them, using them as bookmarks, windshield wiper scrapers and even a dress for the Oscars. That’s right, it’s called trashy fashion. Didn’t you ever see the dress made out of American Express credit cards?
Whether you give or receive gift cards, think about what you can do to lessen waste in your community.