Patagonia On Thames Launches #5 Plastic Recycling Program
Th Thames Street retailer will collect #5 plastics that will be recycled off the island.
Patagonia has made a name for themseves as one of the more sustainable brands in the U.S. from the design of their clothing, to their recycling program, to education. Through the vision of its founder, Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia is striving to make a difference in local communities, including its Thames Street location.
In honor of Earth Month, Patagonia on Thames launched a recycling program last week for Newport residents to recycle #5 plastics, which consumers typically cannot recycle. This kind of plastic includes yogurt containers, medicine bottles, plastic take-out containers and any other plastic pieces that have a #5 on them. The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) only accepts #1 and #2 plastics in the State of Rhode Island. The RIRRC plans to accept up to #7 plastics by 2013, but in the meantime, all other plastics go straight to the landfill. That's where Patagonia comes in.
“The program began as an idea when an employee from California was horrified she couldn’t recycle her yogurt containers,” said Hootie Fogg, manager of Patagonia on Thames. “It began to develop when she went online, researched ways to recycle the containers in our state, and found that the only place to do so was at Whole Foods.”
Since there is no Whole Foods in Newport, the team at Patagonia will collect residents' #5 plastics and drive them weekly to a Whole Foods where they can be properly recycled. Whole Foods recycles these plastics through the Gimme 5 Program with Massachusetts-based Preserve. The plastic is ground up and made into clean plastic pellets which are then sent to Preserve’s manufacturing facilities to be transformed into new Preserve products, such as toothbrushes, razors, tableware, and kitchen products.
“Through Patagonia’s Common Threads Initiative, we already recycle old Patagonia clothes and send them to corporate for the fabric to be reused,” Fogg said. “Additionally, all of the plastic that the products are sent to us in are sent back to corporate as well. So we thought, ‘why not?’ It’s just one more way for us to be environmentally conscious on a local level.”
So before tossing that hummus container in the garbage, turn it over and it see what number is on the bottom. If it’s a #5, head down to Patagonia on Thames to drop it off. Better yet, start a new bin in around the house specifically for #5 plastics. With RIRRC warning that the landfill is quickly filling up, it will help divert this plastic and turn it into useful household items.