Subscription boxes are sweeping the nation, offering everything from meal prep kits and beauty products to men’s razors and dog treats. Fun to open, but what do you do with all that packaging every month or week?
“Many people are very concerned about this topic, but it’s not really creating waste where there wasn’t any before,” said Dennis Salazar, president and co-founder, Salazar Packaging. “Most subscription box packaging is designed to be recycled at curbside. It’s greener than retail packaging because it’s made of higher recycled content,” said Salazar, an expert in the area of sustainable packaging and branded e-commerce packaging.
Retail packaging is used for visual appeal and often made of harder-to-recycle laminate, glossy, waterproof or hard plastic materials, Salazar said. Subscription boxes are more often made of 100 percent corrugated recyclable content, he said.
On the down side, many subscription boxes over-package, with a box within another box in a sort of Russian nesting doll approach.
Here are some recycling tips from Earth911.com:
• The box: Knock it down, flatten it and recycle curbside.
• Gel packs: Let thaw, then cut a corner and discard gel. Check to see if the gel is water-soluble, and if so discard down the toilet. Recycle plastic curbside. Or, keep gel packs and use as ice packs.
• Jute (fiber) insulation: Remove outer plastic liner and recycle curbside where No. 4 plastic is accepted. Some jute is compostable at home or through a municipal composting facility.
• Glass, plastic bags, plastic containers: Recycle curbside.
• Problematic exceptions: Styrofoam is not biodegradable, and some insulation materials are difficult to recycle, Salazar said.