Recyclable Tyvek® Mailers? Not Really

Is it legitimate to say that a product is 100% recyclable when, in reality, most 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 implemented well-intended but impractical programs 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 more than 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 only in the form of containers, such as 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 – you pay them $15 for 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, how likely are you to buy a kit, separate the Tyvek and mail it back? And if you’re a large corporation shipping to these kinds of recipients, do you really expect them to jump through these hoops?

So think hard before you use Tyvek because you are circulating a product that most likely will not be recycled.  Other protective mailers both do the job and are authentically 100% recyclable through your local municipality.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformer.com

About Sari McConnell

Sari oversees strategic partnership opportunities and heads up Conformer’s San Francisco office. Sari was formerly the managing director of a venture-backed music and multimedia agency in San Francisco and New York. She began her career in brand management at Hallmark Cards, Clorox, and LeapFrog. Sari is an appointed member of the Bay Area Regional Council of Northwestern University and is an active volunteer at her children’s schools. She received her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and her B.A. from Northwestern University as well.
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