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    Where to Recycle Packaging Material in Philadelphia

    After you spend an agonizing five days tracking its journey, that goodie you bought online finally arrives on your doorstep. But once you tear everything away to get to your new lamp/pair of shoes/blender, you’re left with a mess: plastic, paper, and cardboard, all the stuff the kept your purchase safe on its travels, now strewn across your living room floor.

    Where to Recycle Your Packaging Material

    Disposing of all that sustainably is much easier said than done. Some of it can be thrown in with your recyclables, but some — in fact, most — of it cannot. This edition of Where Can I Wednesday is the definitive guide to where to toss those packaging materials, so you can enjoy that lamp/pair of shoes/blender in peace.

    Where to recycle Cardboard Boxes 

    • Recycle: Cardboard is accepted in Philly’s single-stream system, so after you flatten your boxes, throw them in the bin and leave it out to be collected with the rest of your bottles and cans.
    • Compost: Believe it or not, cardboard can be composted. Just make sure you tear it up into smaller pieces before you add it to your pile. If you haven’t already, sign up with a local composting service like Bennett Compost or Circle Compost, which provide bins to collect your food waste and periodically haul it away.
    • Repurpose: There are all sorts of creative ways to reuse your cardboard boxes. Save them for when you or a friend needs to pack up and move, turn them into storage, or if you’re more artistically inclined, use them for arts and crafts. We love this list of ideas, courtesy of Family Handyman.

    What to do with Packing Peanuts

    • Shipping centers: Sadly, most recycling plants don’t accept these pesky little things, so don’t try to throw them in your bin. Instead, you can drop them off at shipping centers that participate in the national Loose Fill Reuse Program. Philadelphia’s locations include:
      • Philadelphia Mailroom (8001 Castor Ave., 215-745-1100)
      • Northern Liberties Mailbox Store (702 N 3rd St., 215-627-6215)

    You can also call your local UPS Store to see if they accept drop-offs.

    • Reuse: If you have space, save the peanuts to use for your own shipping needs. You can also make a post on Craigslist, offering free ones up to anyone who needs them. 

    Giving Air Pillows / Plastic Film / Bubble Wrap another life

    • Grocery stores: Much like single-use plastic bags, the air pillows and plastic film used in packaging can’t be recycled in your household bin. Instead, take them (and your plastic bags while you’re at it) to a local grocery store to be reused. Find a list of participating locations here.
    • Reuse: Much like with packing peanuts, air pillows and bubble wrap can be saved for future use.
    • Mail-in: If your plastic film is labeled as a Sealed Air product, that means it’s made by the company to be more sustainable, and can be recycled through Sealed Air’s own facilities. You can find instructions and addresses here.

    Readers, do you know any other ways to responsibly dispose of packaging materials? Tell us in the comments below!




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    Brianna Baker

    About Brianna Baker

    Brianna is a senior journalism major Temple University. While studying abroad in Fall 2017, she interned at WHERE Rome magazine, and has also worked for Baltimore STYLE, QWERTY Philly, and student publications like Templar, The Temple News and 14th Street. In addition to writing, she loves re-watching her favorite sitcoms, going to concerts, and doing yoga (when she’s not feeling too lazy).

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