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Because You Asked

Because You Asked: Can I Recycle Plastic Gum Containers?

By Recyclebank |

Those small plastic bottles are good for keeping gum fresh and handy … but what to do with them once you’ve chewed the last piece?

Dear Recyclebank: Are plastic chewing gum containers recyclable? –Carla N.

Dear Carla: Although they are small, those plastic gum containers can really pile up in a landfill, so you’re smart to consider recycling them. Here’s the scoop on how to dispose of them:

Plastic gum and mint containers that have the chasing arrows symbol and a number on the underside, are recyclable with like kinds of plastic.

Companies like Wrigley and Hershey’s are working hard to address packaging waste — and the birth of plastic gum and mint bottles is actually proof of this; eliminating the need for gum to be wrapped individually with non-recyclable coated plastic and foil.

Many plastic gum containers are made from #2 plastic, or high-density polyethylene (HDPE). It’s the same opaque, stiff plastic that’s used for packages such as milk jugs or detergent bottles. It is recyclable in most curbside recycling containers or plastic-collection points — double-check yours to make sure this type of plastic is accepted. Most likely these plastics, when recycled, will end up as plastic lumber or plastic lawn furniture, among other things.

As for the diminutive size of the container, in this case, size likely doesn’t matter. You might recall that another reader asked if her plastic vanilla extract bottle could be recycled, and we learned it probably could.

As with those tiny bottles, we suggest trying to nest your gum container into a larger bottle of the same plastic type so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

If you don’t recycle them, plastic gum and mint containers can be used for a variety of projects

Clever crafters have already discovered that you can repurpose, rather than recycle, these tiny containers to extend their useful life. We’ve seen projects for keychain earphone holders, storage containers for office supplies, or organizers for ribbons and other sewing notions. If you’re not crafty, you can still re-use these handy containers as snack containers for kids, a travel caddy for bobby pins or Q-tips, or as storage for seeds in your gardening shed.

Finally, if you’re concerned that your gum container might end up in the landfill, seek out gum brands with more sustainable packaging, such as Glee gum, which comes in an entirely recyclable cardboard box.

Do you recycle — or repurpose — your chewing gum or mint packaging? Share your experiences in the comments.

Share with Your Friends & Family
  • Anne W. 25 minutes ago
    I don't buy gum. I do buy Junior Mints, but they come in a cardboard container that I toss into recycling.
  • DONNA H. 2 days ago
    I save the round ones and leave it in my cup dispenser in my car and keep change in them.
  • Luanne S. 6 days ago
    I try to repurpose many packaging for crafts and to packagr for future gifts. So many containers can be decoupaged and used for different holiday treats etc for the kids. Just make sure if you are using for any greasy foods or need to wash in warm water, the containers are BPA free. Always buy in bulk packaging if possible to avoid small individual packaging is my rule.
  • Gina L. 8 days ago
    It is great to hear Wrigley, the original gum brand, is working on ways to keep up with the environment.
  • Cindy W. 9 days ago
    Don't really chew gum and on the rare occasion I get mints in small plastic container, I will use it to put in safety pins, bobby pins, hair bands, etc. and have them placed in a toiletry bag for when I stay someplace overnight. When my child was in different activities in high school I found myself being a chaperone. I would take a tote bag that carried lots of odds and ends (needles and thread, safety pins, bobby pins, buttons in our outfit colors, etc.,) The kids would always come with their emergencies and they would quickly be alleviated when I opened my tote that had small supplies of everything labeled on those small containers.
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