handing a small package to postal worker

10. Plastic

Plastics are made from oil, which is an important resource to conserve. Unfortunately, a lot of plastics are difficult to recycle. Refer to the guide below for mail-in recycling programs for items that are not accepted by your local recyclers.

  • Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers
    Multiple mail-in locations
    (410) 451-8340
    Expanded polystyrene (EPS) packing materials
    AFPR has created a unique mail-back program for EPS recycling. Make sure the EPS is free of tape, films, and labels, and visit the website to find the nearest mail-in location.
  • Dolco Packaging Egg Carton Recycling Program
    Multiple mailing locations
    (770) 963-6191
    This program accepts clean, polystyrene egg cartons. Save up for a few months and then visit the website to find the nearest mail-in location.
  • Preserve Gimme 5
    823 NYS RT-13
    Cortland, NY 13045
    (888) 354-7296
    #5 plastic, water filters
    Yogurt cups, hummus containers, and other #5 plastics are not accepted in many community recycling programs or are downgraded into low-quality materials. Please send your #5 plastics via ground, not air shipping, and reuse a box if you can. Include your return address on the box and write your name and email address inside the box.
  • Tyvek Envelope Mail-in Recycling Program
    8401 Fort Darling Rd
    Richmond, VA 23237
    (800) 488-9835
    DuPont Tyvek consists of 100 percent high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and can be recycled into a variety of different products several times throughout its useful life. Please call for more information on drop-off and mail-in locations.
  • TerraCycle Mail-in Recycling Brigade Program
    Trenton, NJ 08638
    (609) 393-4252
    Plastic bags, plastic film, plastic lining, butter/yogurt containers, aluminum cans, candy wrappers, cell phones, corks, digital cameras, drink boxes, frozen food boxes, inkjet cartridges, laptops, MP3 players, tape dispensers, writing utensils, Colgate toothbrushes, Colgate toothpaste tubes
    TerraCycle has a national mail-in recycling program for previously non-recyclable or hard-to-recycle waste. While some programs have a cost, most programs are completely free including the shipping expenses. Please visit the website to find out more about this project and how to get started.

Editor’s note: Originally published on March 13, 2013, this article was updated by Earth911 writer Sarah Lozanova in August 2018.