Better World

A New Solution For Hard-To-Recycle Baby Food Packaging

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Anyone who’s fed a baby store-bought food knows that the convenience often comes with a price. The variety of glass, plastic, pouch and other types of packaging lead parents to weigh the pros and cons around the relative safety, cost, and environmental impact of these options.

With the current climate crisis top-of-mind for so many parents, recycling is a big factor when making decisions about prepackaged baby foods. Even packaging that’s primarily eco-friendly will often have components like caps, lid liners, labels or wrappers that generally can’t be recycled. Increasingly popular squeezable puree pouches are not locally recyclable at all through most municipal recycling programs.

Gerber and TerraCycle are partnering to change that.

Gerber, the early childhood nutrition leader, has partnered with international recycling company TerraCycle to launch a recycling program that supports the recovery of hard-to-recycle baby food packaging on a national scale. Gerber has a goal of using 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025.

“Through this free recycling program, Gerber is offering parents an easy way to divert waste from landfills by providing a responsible way to dispose of certain hard-to-recycle baby food packaging,” said TerraCycle CEO and Founder, Tom Szaky, in a press release. “By collecting and recycling these items, families can demonstrate their respect for the environment not only through the products that they choose for their children, but also with how they dispose of the packaging.”

Participation in the program is straight-forward and simple. 

Parents can simply sign up on the Gerber Recycling Program page and mail in packaging that is not municipally recyclable using a prepaid shipping label. Guidelines for what types of packaging are accepted include flexible plastic pouches, plastic lids, plastic shrink labels, plastic containers, and flexible plastic packaging.

Photo c/o Gerber and TerraCycle

Once collected, the packaging is cleaned and melted into hard plastic. This plastic can be remolded to make new recycled products.

The program is free to use for individual families, offices, businesses like childcare providers, schools, and community organizations.

As an added incentive, for every pound of packaging waste sent to TerraCycle through the Gerber Recycling Program, participants can earn $1 to donate to a non-profit, school or charitable organization of their choice.

Representatives from Gerber emphasize their commitment to supporting efforts toward creating a world where babies thrive. “We’re thrilled to partner with TerraCycle as part of our broader sustainable packaging efforts,” said Gerber President and CEO Bill Partyka. “We know every parent’s top priority is to ensure a healthy, happy future for their baby. Our commitment to sustainability is rooted in giving parents a hand in making their baby’s future that much brighter.”

Robyn is Editor-in-Chief at ParentsTogether and is co-author of several NYTimes bestselling anthologies. She lives in southern Michigan with her husband and five children.