Are you wondering if it's possible to recycle plastic gift cards? With the increasing popularity of giving gift cards for all types of special occasions, environmentally conscious consumers will be happy to learn that recycling options are available for these items.
About Plastic Gift Cards
Buying gifts for people - no matter how well you know them and how familiar you are with their preferences - can be very difficult. That's why many individuals opt to provide the people on their holiday and other special occasion gift giving lists with gift cards rather than risking purchasing items that won't be used. After all, even though the thought is what really matters with gift giving, it only makes sense to want to make certain that the gifts that you share with other people are put to good use.
Recognizing the trend toward giving monetary gifts, many retailers, restaurants, and other types of businesses have started making gift cards readily available to consumers. You can purchase gift cards for virtually any major retailer or other type of business that processes electronic payments. In addition to store specific cards, it's also possible to purchase general Visa, MasterCard, or American Express gift cards that can be used at any store where the particular credit card brand is accepted as a form of payment.
These cards have account numbers and magnetic stripes and are processed in the same manner as credit or debit cards. When you buy one of these cards, it is "loaded" with the dollar amount of your choice and the recipient can spend the funds all at once or can apply them to several purchases. Recipients are typically able to use their cards at bricks and mortar locations as well with online merchants, per the terms and conditions of the particular card program.
How to Recycle Plastic Gift Cards
With the increasing popularity of gift cards, a natural side effect is more plastic waste. However, used cards don't have to end up in the trash. While gift cards do often end up simply being thrown away and find their way to landfills, this isn't a necessary side effect of this form of currency.
Reload and Reuse
Many plastic gift cards are reloadable, yet end up being thrown away after the funds initially loaded on them have been depleted. The next time you use the funds on a reloadable gift card, stop and think before you simply toss it in the trash. Will you be purchasing a gift card for someone else in the future? If so, hold on to the card you currently have and add funds to it when it's time to give a gift the next time. This is a very responsible - and easy - way to keep the gift cards that pass through your hands out of landfills and to reduce the demand for new cards.
Plastic cards of all types - gift cards, credit and debit cards, student and employee ID cards, and more - can be recycled and repurposed to create new plastic items from post-consumer waste. Earthworks, for example, accepts plastic gift cards from retailers and individuals for recycling. Collected cards are melted and used to create sheets of PVC plastic that can be used to create new cards, hotel keys, specialty advertising items, and other plastic pieces that are in high demand. The process used to recycle these cards is a much greener alternative to manufacturing the materials used to create plastic items from scratch.
Another alternative way to recycle plastic gift cards is to use them in crafting projects. TreeHugger.com, for example, has information on making attractive and effective drink coasters from used gift cards. The project simply requires cutting the cards into mosaic tiles and using adhesive to attach them into a coaster design. The same technique can also be used to craft picture frames and other items for personal use or gift giving purposes.
Making a Difference
Instead of simply telling the cashier to keep the empty card next time you are finished with one, find out if the store recycles used cards or if they are simply thrown away. If they are tossed out, don't simply turn over your no longer needed card. Instead, hold on to it until you can use it again or make a point of ensuring that it is disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner.