While gift cards can be recycled, ensuring that every single gift card issued is recycled is nearly impossible. That’s why Whole Foods recently decided to do away with plastic gift cards all together – even their variety of 100 percent post-consumer plastic cards.
Rather than issuing a piece of plastic into the waste cycle, Whole Foods is replacing their plastic cards with ones made from 50 percent post-consumer paper and “responsibly harvested wood.” The new cards can still be recycled, but if they are thrown in the trash, will take a considerably shorter time to decompose. Both new forms of cards are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and, according to a press release, “have a lower carbon footprint, are reusable, recyclable, compostable and require less energy to be produced.”
In 2006, a staggering $80 billion worth of gift cards were sold in the U.S. with a piece of plastic accompanying nearly every purchase.
“We are constantly looking for ways to reduce our environmental impact and further our green mission efforts. Moving away from plastic gift cards is one way we can help make a difference,” Chris Jensen, gift card team leader for Whole Foods Market, says in the release. “We want to make gift giving not only as simple as possible but also environmentally friendly.”
Whole Foods will continue to recycle plastic gift cards from its store locations – an effort that has saved more than 250,000 gift cards from landfills, the company says.
This is one of many environmental efforts made by Whole Foods in the last few years. The company has purchased renewable energy offsets for all of its stores and facilities since 2006, the equivalent of preventing nearly 551,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution from entering the atmosphere. In addition, the food retailer has done away with plastic bags entirely by using a paper bag alternative for customers who don’t have reusable totes in tow.