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America’s Recycling Crisis: Finding the Best Long-Lasting Promotional Products

Have you ever taken a walk through your neighborhood on garbage day and noticed recycling bins filled with non-recyclable materials? It’s a frequent topic of conversation at Eco Promotional Products. This week a bin in one of our employee’s neighborhood was overflowing with plastic bags stuffed with Styrofoam takeout containers. This is a big no-no for curbside recycling in her area.

China has finally had enough of American’s recycling bin contamination problem. Effective since September, China has banned the import of 24 varieties of solid waste, including types of plastic and unsorted paper commonly sent from the U.S. Municipalities are currently struggling, faced with overflowing recycling centers and are requesting that they may be allowed to send recyclable paper and plastic to landfill.

At Eco Promotional Products, many of our products are made from recycled material or are recyclable. We encourage customers to recycle packaging and recycle products at the end of their useful life. However, in light of China’s current ban, organizations purchasing promotional products should think beyond the recyclability of promotional items and put an emphasis on the lifespan of a product and choose long-lasting and reusable promotional products over recyclable.

Because of their low price point and their load capacity, non-woven polypropylene bags are some of the most popular bags on the market today. However, because several of these bags are about 80gsm in weight, used frequently and with heavy capacities, they tend to show signs of wear and tear. Heavier weight polypropylene, such as 100gsm, will last quite a bit longer.

While non-woven polypropylene bags are recyclable, they are not always accepted in curbside recycling programs. If keeping waste out of landfills is a top priority for your organization (as we hope it is for all of our customers), consider investing in longer-lasting bags. Rip-stop nylon foldaway and RuMe bags are extremely durable and made in socially responsible factories. The medium RuMe tote is well priced, holds up to 50 pounds and is machine washable. These high quality, long-lasting bags will be used for years, eliminating the need for more frequent replacements and the resources to produce them. Laminated totes made from recycled materials are also extremely durable and long lasting.

Like bags, reusable water bottles come in a range of price points. Plastics are typically less expensive and are often recyclable. With America’s current recycling crisis and China not wanting plastic, long-lasting aluminum, stainless steel or glass bottles are a better choice. Glass bottles can be repeatedly washed in the dishwasher while maintaining shape, durability and cleanliness. Any reusable water bottle is better than not using a reuseable one at all. Refilling a water bottle instead of buying single-use bottles will help reduce the amount of plastic going into recycling bins.

When planning your next promotional campaign, consider the usefulness and lifespan of the products you are considering. A useful, well-made promotional product will give many years of good service and not end up in a landfill.

There are simple things individuals and organizations can do to reduce the amount of plastic and paper recycling. Eco Promotional Products is a paperless office. Our customers know we do not mail invoices and we don’t have a fax machine nor printer. All correspondence, including invoicing, is done electronically. We also have office water coolers and employees bring reusable bottles for water and coffee. In advance of the holiday season and the new year, opt out of catalog mailings to your home and office. And most importantly, make sure you “recycle right” and help educate others to reduce recycling bin contamination.