Plastic Gift Card Recycling: Convenient but Reduce the Enviro Impact

plastic gift card recycling.

Group of expired credit, gift, and assorted plastic cards.

I hate plastic gift cards.  They use up precious petroleum resources and clog our landfills.  Why?  People throw them out once they are depleted.  How can we reduce our environmental impact but keep gift giving easy?

Why do People Buy Gift Cards?

Before I give you some ideas of banishing plastic gift cards, I wanted to highlight why gift card sales were predicted to reach $91 billion for 2010. Flexibility and convenience. Who wants to run all over town looking for the perfect gift especially when it is so much easier to allow your gift recipient to pick his or her own gift?

People even bought those cards that had depleting balance.  Remember them?  Just an FYI, a  2009 law required that inactivity fees are prohibited for the first year and within 12 months following activity on the card.

In order to reduce the plastic card environmental impact, the solutions must be convenient and easy.  Here are some of my plastic gift card recycling or reuse  ideas.

Earthworks Systems:

Earthworks takes back your gift and credit cards and recycles them into post consumer PVC sheet material for manufacturers or gift cards for retailers. Although this is not a perfect solution since people are still using the plastic cards, at least, the cards won’t end up in a landfill.

If you are a consumer, encourage your favorite retailer to contact Earthworks to set up a gift card recycling center.  The cost of sending the cards is borne by the retailer.  Honestly, what could sending back hundreds of gifts cards cost?  Retailers are you listen?  Great PR message here.

Got expired cards?

Many of you know I collect a ton of recycling for cash for my school.  Someone gave me old credit and gift cards. I didn’t have the heart to throw them away since I don’t collect them.  Thanks to this parent, I discovered Earthworks and sent the expired cards to them to receive a second life. Update 12/25/13:  Earthworks doesn’t seem to be in business.  However, you can now recycle your  gift cards at Best Buy.

Email a Gift Certificate:

Amazon, iTunes, and many other retailers provide an email gift certificate.  If your retailer doesn’t offer an email gift card, check out iCARD, which allows you to personalize an email gift certificate.

Be Crafty:

Did you know there are at least 18 ways to reuse your old credit card and gift cards?   Besides using them as markers for your garden or windshield scraper, what crafty ideas can you come up with to re-use them?

Join the conversation:

  • What do you do to avoid buying plastic gift cards?
  • How do you dispose of your gift cards?
  • What crafty ideas do you have to re-use your gift cards?

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    Thanks for this. Did you know that Best Buy will collect expired gift cards. I couldn’t find out for sure how they are used. It is part of their e-cycling program which also takes old cables, CD, DVDs…. There are bins set up as you enter the store. I believe it is in every Best Buy location nationwide.
    Kristina (The Greening of Westford)´s last blog post ..5 Easy Steps to Recycling


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