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.