Are consumers ready to dispose of their waste at retail stores?
The history of retailers collecting recyclables from their costumers is evolving, if slowly. At first this started with small independent grocery stores collecting plastic bags or other items. But, today, consumers are clearly becoming more eco-aware, which is creating a demand for major retailers like Whole Foods Market, Best Buy and Sur La Table to place collections in their stores.
The trend of retailers collecting recyclables started in “crunchy,” more sustainable cities like Portland, OR, and Denver, CO, where there were several small, independent grocers. These were community-based grocery stores where local residents could drop off their recyclables. Inspired by this, other communities began collections as well. These collections, however, were not necessarily for recyclables. One collection was Box Tops for Education. Another type of community-based collection is the Paper Retriever Recycling Bin. This dumpster sized recycling bin is a free collection where students can place their paper recyclables — they are often found in school, city and retailer parking lots.
Recently, this new trend has been popping up more and more. Major retailers are starting collections for a variety of recyclables and even non-recyclables. Whole Foods Market has several collections. They accept corks from wine bottles, plastics made from No.5 polypropylene and plastic bags from other retailers. Of course, I periodically check the bins at my local Whole Foods and they are usually fairly empty — even in a relatively affluent and aware consumer base like Princeton, NJ. They also have recycling bins and compost buckets in their cafeteria.
Best Buy has an e-waste recycle collection. You can bring in your used electronics to any Best Buy location and they will recycle them for you — however, sometimes this service comes at a cost for the consumers. Best Buy also offers other programs to help collect your used electronics. Best Buy will remove your old TV or appliance when you buy a new TV or appliance from them. They will also remove used TVs or appliances from your house for $100, if you are not buying a new TV or appliance from them.
The latest major retailer do start a recycle collection is Sur La Table. Sur La Table has partnered with Illy Caffé to collect Illy Caffé’s iperEspresso capsules. The iperEspresso capsules are made of No.5 polypropylene, which is collected by only about 5 percent of municipalities. Illy Caffé wanted to find a way for their customers to enjoy their coffee and still be environmentally friendly. This is why Illy Caffé introduced iperEspresso Capsule Recycle Program. This program allows the capsules to be recycled.
There are three ways to recycle the capsules.
The first way is for illy a casa members. Illy a casa members receive their capsule recycle program as a complimentary service as part of their free membership.
The second option is to drop off the capsules at their local Sur La Table.
The final option is to buy a recycle kit. If you are not an illy a casa member and there are no Sur La Table locations near you, you can purchase a kit by calling illy Customer Care. There has to be an 80 capsule minimum when sending in your capsules.
The demand for more recycling collections in stores is a new concept. Although many people recycle and try to be more eco-friendly, recycling in your grocery store, your electronic store or your favorite kitchen store is taking green a step further. The question is, are consumers ready for this change? Will they collect their waste and bring it with them to stores? Or box it up to mail it in for recycling? TerraCycle is guessing that enough people will!