Insights on Preserve’s Takeback program

This post is part of a blogging series by marketing students at the Presidio Graduate School’s MBA program. You can follow along here.

By Rachel Roberts

Do you ever worry whether or not the plastic recyclables that you have saved for two weeks and put out for collection will really be recycled?  Well there is a company who is taking some of those plastic products and reincorporating them into their manufacturing process to give a second life to that plastic by making household and personal care products for resale. The company who is doing this is called Preserve.

Let’s embark on a short but clarifying plastics lesson, what I like to call a Primer on Plastics.  Plastic is stamped with a range of numbers 1 through 7. A common misperception is that the numbers signify the weight, recyclability, safety, or sustainability of the plastic. It turns out the numbers indicate none of these. Instead it simply is a designation for the type of plastic used.  For example #1 (PET) is the type of plastic used for soda and single use water bottles, while #2 (HDPE) makes up the opaque milk jugs. Both of these have long been the cash cows of the plastic industry and as a result have garnered the most attention for community recycling.  However #5, (PP) polypropylene, is considered to be one of the more benign and safe plastics that is strong, lightweight, and easily recycled. But it has received little attention in recycling efforts. To date, some communities still do not allow #5 to be incorporated into their recycling collection programs.

Preserve aims to change that, and the company is looking for your help using social media.

A collection and takeback program spearheaded by Preserve, called Gimme 5, collects all #5 plastic via efforts coordinated with Whole Foods. The Gimme 5 program began in 2009.  Last year alone it captured 75 tons worth of #5 plastic that otherwise would have gone to the landfill!  Two hundred and twenty Whole Food stores carry the Gimme 5 bins, most often located at the front of each store. The bin is white and is identified with the Gimme 5 logo along with the partnering logos of Brita, Tom’s of Maine, Stonyfield Farm, and Seventh Generation. The bin collects any plastic stamped as a #5, from ketchup and medicine bottles to Brita filters and yogurt containers. Preserve uses #5 plastic, recycled, to manufacture its entire line of products.

With a recently released app called Gimme 5, able to be downloaded by Iphone users, Preserve is reaching out to its current and new customers by inviting them to post recycling comments as well as indicate where they dropped off their #5’s.  Features of the app will also locate the closest Whole Foods store where the bins are available for drop off.

Do you think Preserve’s efforts to inform and broaden the recycling conversation through this app will increase the recycling of #5 plastics?

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