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8 Companies that Recycle Their Own Products

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From crayons to cookware, these companies are doing their part by taking back their own products — and recycling them!

When my first daughter was born, we covered the hardwood floors in her room with FLOR tiles, because we were impressed with their eco-friendly business model, which includes the use of renewable and recycled materials (they even have figured out how to turn old fishing nets into yarn!) and the lack of potentially toxic adhesives needed to install them. Plus, they have a ton of super-cute options.

It came as no surprise, then, that a few years (and another baby) later, when it was time to redecorate the bedroom, I learned that FLOR had a program in which you could send back your worn-out tiles, and they’d recycle them into nylon fibers and other materials. It was super-easy to return my grubby old tiles; I simply boxed them up, and called the company, who emailed me a prepaid shipping label.

It turns out that FLOR is far from the only manufacturer that will take back its own products to recycle or repurpose. I love this idea — it shows progressive thinking and environmental responsibility on the part of the manufacturer, and diverts certain hard-to-recycle products from the landfill. Here are 8 of the coolest company take-back programs I’ve found:
  1. Crayola: The art-supply company is hoping to teach kids about recycling through its ColorCycle program. Schools who want to participate in the program can collect used markers and send them in to Crayola (Crayola pays for shipping), and the markers will be transformed into clean-burning fuel. Crayola also offers lesson plans for educators to help teach kids about environmental issues like recycling.
  2. Calphalon Cookware: When you buy certain sets of Calphalon cookware, you can pack up your old cookware (any brand!) in the box the new Calphalon cookware came in, and send it back to Calphalon. They’ll pay shipping expenses, send the cookware to a special recycling center, and even send you a couple of recycled-cotton shopping bags for your effort.
  3. Nike: Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program is one of the coolest corporate recycling programs I’ve seen. The company collects worn-out shoes at Nike stores (if your shoes are still in decent condition, they encourage you to donate them instead). The worn-out shoes are then ground up to make a material called Nike Grind, which is used to make athletic surfaces, such as tennis courts, basketball courts, tracks, playground surfaces and athletic fields.
  4. Crocs: Crocs are so sturdy, you’ll probably get tired of them before they’re even worn out. Lightly worn shoes can be taken to a participating Crocs store, to be cleaned and given to people in impoverished nations who are in need of shoes. Schools and other organizations can sign up to be a collection site.
  5. Brita: Preserve, the same company that has partnered with Stonyfield Farms to recycle the #5 plastic yogurt containers, also collects used Brita filters at various drop-off locations (or they can be mailed in). The filtering material inside gets converted to energy, while the exterior plastic is used to make household goods like toothbrushes, cups, and cutting boards.
  6. Amazon Kindle: If your Kindle breaks, or you decide to upgrade to the latest model, Amazon will take back your old Kindle. You can register online to get a prepaid shipping label, and then send the Kindle to the recycler, where the Kindle’s data and personal information is removed, and the products are then broken down for their materials to be reused.
  7. MAC Cosmetics: Those empty cosmetics compacts don’t have to end up in the landfill. MAC’s Back to MAC will take back its packaging at retail outlets or through the mail — and you’ll even get a free lipstick if you return at least six packages. MAC isn’t the only cosmetics and toiletry company that will take back its packages for recycling.
  8. Canon: Canon is a great example of the many electronics companies have recycling programs in place for their products, once they’re broken or obsolete. Canon takes back its consumer and home office products, including cameras and accessories, printers, binoculars and calculators. Fill out a form online and they’ll send you a shipping label.

Have you ever taken advantage of a corporate recycling program? Share your favorites in the comments below!

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan
I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same. more