Is it legitimate to say that a product is 100% recyclable when, in reality, the majority of municipalities won’t accept that product for collection?
This contradiction has always left me scratching my head. Why? Technically DuPont™ Tyvek® high density polyethylene (HDPE) material can be safely incinerated BUT only if the product gets sorted and collected. Tyvek has a collection problem and they know it: they’ve put well-intended but impractical programs in place to address the issue.
I did a little detective work, and here’s what I learned:
1. Most municipalities won’t collect Tyvek envelopes. Waste Management, with over 25% market share in the solid waste services industry, states: “there’s no single answer to what is acceptable for recycling, since municipal programs vary.” So digging deeper at the municipality level, I found that many municipalities collect HDPE but only if they are in the form of containers:
#2 HDPE : Examples: Milk jugs. Juice bottles. Bottles for bleach, laundry detergent, some household cleansers. Motor oil bottles. Butter, oleomargarine, and yogurt tubs.
2. In response, DuPont has created a recycling program in partnership with Waste Management but get this — it requires you to pay them $15 to get the kit! Then the burden is on you to mail your recyclable Tyvek to them. If you are a household or a small to medium business – or if you are a large corporation sending packages to these kinds of recipients – how likely do you think Tyvek recipients are going to buy a kit, separate out all the Tyvek, and mail it back? Not very likely.
So think hard before you use Tyvek – because you are putting a product into circulation that most likely will not be recycled. There are other protective mailers out there that do the job and are authentically 100% recyclable through your local municipality.
–Sari McConnell at firstname.lastname@example.org