Although the US has yet to conduct formal research on food packaging waste statistics, the EPA estimates that 32% of household trash is made up of food packaging. When product packaging is unavoidable, many avid recyclers will try to repurpose the material before discarding it. Reusing food packaging is a great way to save money and it comes in handy for anything from party décor to kids crafts, but make sure that you’re reusing the material safely.
According to Earth911, glass containers can generally be reused indefinitely if cleaned properly. But you want to be a little more careful with plastic. The Green Guide, operated by the National Geographic Society, suggests that the safest plastics for repeated use in storing food are #2, #4 and #5. All others are best suited for non-food reuses.
Steel or “tin” cans, such as those used to package soup and veggies, should never be used to store food in the refrigerator after opening as they may leach toxins into food. Instead, you can use tin cans to organize office supplies, tools, or kitchen utensils.
While milk and juice cartons won’t transfer chemicals to food when reused, they aren’t intended for repeated use either and may harbor bacteria. But good news – if you have Rumpke as your recycling hauler, you can now toss those cartons into your bin or cart!
Egg cartons on the other hand can be used as seed starters, shipping material, or storage organizers.
There are literally dozens of websites and blogs devoted to inventing creative reuses for food packaging waste.So take some time this summer to explore your creative side, and let us know if you come up with anything useful!