7 Retailers with Impressive Recycling Programs

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Although many common household items are easy for most of us to recycle through municipalities, others are more complicated. Some retailers have stepped up by offering recycling programs to encourage wider participation. These seven retailers that recycle make it simpler to responsibly dispose of hard-to-recycle items and more appealing to haul a damaged computer monitor or a bag of old clothes across town to keep them out of a landfill.

Patagonia

With a very impressive environmental track record, Patagonia has several initiatives that help close the recycling loop. Since 2005, Patagonia has recycled 95 tons of old clothing. The Common Threads Initiative encourages customers to buy and sell used Patagonia goods to promote a more sustainable model of consumption.

Patagonia also allows customers to recycle worn-out clothing in stores or by mailing it in. Additionally, the company is producing numerous products, including fleece jackets, down coats and insulated pants from upcycled plastic bottles.

Apple

Do you have old electronics tucked away at the back of the closet because of lack of responsible recycling options? Unfortunately, this is all too common.

Apple makes it appealing to recycle its gadgets with its simple and rewarding program. In addition to in-store recycling, it is also possible to ship electronics for recycling or reuse for free. If Apple determines that the items still have value, customers receive a gift card. Apple also says that all electronics are responsibly recycled in North America.

Aveda

As the first beauty company to offer 100 percent post-consumer recycled PET packaging for its products, Aveda has shown a strong commitment to more-sustainable packaging. It estimates that by using recycled materials, it has saved more than 600 tons of virgin plastic annually. The company is looking beyond bottles and offers in-store recycling for items that aren’t accepted in municipal recycling programs, such as makeup brushes and tubes.

Nike

Nike has found a way to recycle worn-out or surplus shoes and pre-consumer waste into new products. Known as Nike Grind, this recycled material can be used to create a wide variety of products, including durable surfaces for outdoor courts, playgrounds, running tracks and weight rooms. These surfaces contain between 10 and 40 percent Nike Grind materials.

Nike Grind is also used in many new Nike products, including footwear and apparel, thus truly closing the loop. The Reuse-a-Shoe program was started in 1990 and has since recycled tens of millions of pairs of shoes. Nike recycles nearly the entire shoe into new products and accepts used shoes in all U.S. Nike retail locations.

H&M

Although this company is known for fast fashion (which encourages rampant consumerism), H&M launched a global recycling initiative in 2013. This impressive program includes both collecting garments for recycling or reuse and making new goods with the recycled materials.

H&M has partnered with I:CO (short for I Collect) in this closed-loop textile recycling initiative for clothes and shoes. H&M has collected 32,000 tons of garments (both H&M and other brands) since the program started, gathering enough material to make 100 million new T-shirts. I:CO looks for the best use for every item by using a sorting process. Garments that are reusable are worn again, which has the least environmental impact and makes the best use of the item. Remaining items are recycled into new clothing and apparel. H&M has introduced denim garments that contain up to 20 percent recycled content and has plans to expand the number of garments produced with recycled content.

Best Buy

Although Best Buy recently instituted some changes to its electronics takeback and recycling program, it’s still effective. Best Buy, the largest U.S. electronics retailer, accepts a wide range of e-waste and appliances for free but now charges a $25 fee for TVs and monitors.

To date, Best Buy has collected and safely disposed of more than 1 billion pounds of e-waste and has a goal to collect 2 billion pounds by 2020. Best Buy also offers gift cards for gently used electronics through its trade-in program.

Staples

In 2007, Staples became the first retailer in the U.S. to offer a national recycling program. Customers can bring any brand of office equipment, regardless of where the item was purchased, to any U.S. Staples store for free recycling. Staples is even committed to using certified e-Stewards Recyclers whenever possible to ensure safe electronics recycling practices. In 2015, Staples collected more than 16.7 million pounds of electronics in the U.S. for this program.

Staples is also a leader in ink cartridge recycling. A staggering 500 million ink cartridges are purchased each year, and 350 million of those end up in landfills. Staples has created a program that allows customers to earn $2 in rewards for recycling ink cartridges in stores or through the mail when spending at least $30 on ink or toner. In 2015, Staples recycled more than 50.4 million ink and toner cartridges.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

Read More:
How (and Why) H&M Is Trying on Clothing Recycling
How Grocers and Retailers Can Reduce Food Waste
UK Retailer Recycles 100M Hangers for UNICEF

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Sarah Lozanova

Sarah Lozanova is a renewable energy and sustainability journalist and communications professional with an MBA in sustainable management. She is a regular contributor to environmental and energy publications and websites, including Mother Earth Living, Earth911, Home Power, Triple Pundit, CleanTechnica, The Ecologist, GreenBiz, Renewable Energy World and Windpower Engineering. Lozanova also works with several corporate clients as a public relations writer to gain visibility for renewable energy and sustainability achievements.
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