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New recycling program for food storage containers reduces waste

I’ve been a log-time fan of Rubbermaid’s food storage gear—both glass and plastic. Perfect for leftovers, for work/school lunches, and for transporting goodies to a friend’s house, I have a full cupboard devoted to pieces of various sizes and shapes.

That’s not to say that I don’t sometimes have with them a similar problem to that of socks in the laundry—that is, containers getting separated from their lid-mates, and rendering them useless. Or that I’ve never dropped or broken one, or left a plastic container too close to the toaster. Ooops.

Headquarters of international recycling company Terracycle

TerraCycle has won over 200 awards for sustainability and has donated over $44 million to schools and charities since its founding 15 years ago.

Now there’s something that can be done about old, broken, or mismatched storage items. Rubbermaid recently announced a partnership with international recycling company, TerraCycle,  to make its food storage containers recyclable in the U.S. and Canada.

It works like this: once TerraCycle receives a shipment, the materials are weighed and then sorted into categories based on the material’s characteristics (i.e. flexible or rigid) and/or material composition (glass or plastic). Once the glass and plastic are separated, they are cleaned and melted down into hard glass and hard plastic, respectively, and then used to create new products, such as park benches, community gardens, and recycling bins.

The TerraCycle program, the company says, removes some of the traditional obstacles to efficient and responsible recycling, namely that many consumers don’t have access to recycling programs, or live in municipalities where recycling facilities and processors don’t recycle food-grade material, such as chemically-treated glass food storage containers and durable plastic food storage containers made of sturdy #5 polypropylene plastic.

TerraCycle works across a number of industries across 21 countries, partnering with leading consumer product companies, retailers and cities to recycle everything from dirty diapers to cigarette butts, and works to help companies integrate hard-to-recycle waste streams, such as ocean plastic, into products and packaging.

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