Did you know that the United States has one of the highest carbon footprints in the world? This may be no surprise, with nearly 4 million babies being born in the U.S. yearly.
More babies mean more baby food, baby formula, and overall waste. Little ones who take formula go through 40-50 cans of baby formula in the first six months alone, leaving a lot of garbage behind.
As our population grows, it’s important to consider our waste creation and its environmental impact. To help address this concern, we can recycle.
Recycling takes waste and transforms it into new reusable materials. You’ve likely noticed more products made with recycled materials, like plastic bags, paper products, and even clothing!
So, if you want to reduce your waste, you’re probably wondering, are formula cans recyclable? The answer is yes but with some caveats. Keep reading to learn everything you need about recycling old formula containers.
Understanding the Components of Baby Formula Containers
Many baby formula containers come in different packaging with materials, including paper, plastic, and metal.
What are baby formula containers made of?
- The lid is usually made of plastic.
- The can is manufactured using aluminum or tin.
- The label can be paper or plastic.
Each of these components can be recycled, but not necessarily all together. We will discuss how to prepare the baby formula cans for recycling later!
Ways to Recycle Formula Cans ♻️
Used baby formula cans cannot be returned to the manufacturer for reuse, but recycling offers a better solution than throwing them in the trash. Depending on where you live, there are a few different opportunities to participate in a recycling program.
Residential / Recycling Bin Programs
Residential programs are the most convenient. You are provided recycling bins, and materials are picked up at your door.
Recycling is more costly than using a landfill but also more environmentally friendly. Having a recycling program locally may encourage you to recycle more often!
Unfortunately, some cities are not required to provide recycling services to their residents, so you may have to hire a private company to do it for you.
Private Recycling Programs
Private companies collect recyclables and sell them to manufacturers or process them for reselling. Often these companies have local drop-off locations for recyclable goods or provide pick-up services at an additional cost.
Guidelines and Limitations to Recycling
Every city has its own set of rules and guidelines regarding recycling. It can be a bit overwhelming, but don’t worry – the first step is figuring out what products your local recycling company accepts. Once you have that information, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a recycling pro!
Everyday recyclable items include:
- Plastic 🥤
- Paper and cardboard 📄
- Aluminum 🥫
- Electronics and batteries
- Metal scraps and appliances 🗑️
These items have an emblem with an enclosed triangle, and an identification number called the resin identification code inside.
The most recyclable codes are #1 and #2. #1 recyclables include things like soft drink containers, water bottles, and juice containers, and #2 recyclables like laundry detergent jugs, cleaning agent containers, and shampoo bottles.
There are limitations to what you can put in the recycling bin. For example, food scraps are dealt with as part of a separate food waste composting program.
A food waste composting program accepts food products such as vegetables, coffee filters, and eggshells and transforms them into compost to be used for things like soil fertilizer.
How to Prepare Formula Cans for Recycling
If you want to make sure your baby formula cans are properly recycled, there are a few things you need to do before tossing them into the bin. Let’s learn about the steps you can take to ensure your cans are accepted:
- Rinse the formula containers to eliminate any leftover formula residue in the can.
- Disassemble the formula can components by separating the lid from the can and removing the label; however, keep in mind some components may not be recyclable.
If you’re unsure about what’s recyclable and what’s not, search for instructions from your local recycling program or details from your baby’s formula manufacturer to find out how to dispose of the cans properly.
Benefits of Recycling Formula Containers
You may think that recycling is just a simple act of tossing your used plastic bottles or papers into a recycling bin, but did you know it has more benefits than saving the environment?
Buckle up and get ready to be amazed because recycling is not only eco-friendly, but it’s also a win-win for our society and economy!
Environmental Benefits 🌳
The environmental benefits of recycling can be seen on a global and local scale. One of the most significant benefits of recycling is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and conserving trees.
Our atmosphere is filled with greenhouse gases, and trees play an essential role in absorbing those emissions. However, millions of trees are cut down each day to produce paper, and recycling can reduce the need for cutting down trees and help preserve nature.
On a local scale, picture this: waking up one morning and looking out your window only to see a vast, smelly landfill on the outskirts of your community. Not a pleasant sight, right?
Now, picture the same view but with clean air and green spaces instead. Sounds much better, doesn’t it? That’s exactly what recycling can do for your community; it keeps the landfills away and the air fresh!
Economic Benefits 💰
Recycling is also critical to the U.S. economy. The 2020 Recycling Economic Information (REI) Report showed that recycling programs created 681,000 jobs, people were paid $37.8 billion in wages at those jobs, and the government received $5.5 billion in tax revenues. So let’s all do our part and continue to recycle – it’s a win-win for everyone!
Social Benefits 📚
Citizens can see the social benefits of recycling firsthand. For example, tax revenues from recycling programs can fund new community gardens, public parks, or even school library books. These projects allow people to come together and feel proud to contribute.
What Can I Do with Empty Formula Cans?
Suppose your city does not recycle; what do you do then? The good news is you’ve still got options for minimizing your waste.
Upcycling Hacks to Transform Formula Cans
Upcycling is when products are creatively transformed into new products with new use and value, and formula containers offer loads of upcycling possibilities!
Get your whole family involved with some of these creative upcycling ideas:
- Household Storage 🏠: Use the can as storage bins for cotton balls, bobby pins, scissors, or crayons.
- Arts & Crafts 👩🎨: Mod-podge the outside of the container with tissue paper; once dried, use them as decorative vases to hold fresh flowers.
- As a Starter Garden 🌱: Fill the metal bin with soil, plant a few seeds, and watch them grow on your window sill before transferring them outdoors.
- As a Piggy Bank 🪙: Paint it pink, cut a coin-size slot in the lid, and use it as a safe place to store coins. Or, if you’re feeling particularly festive, omit the slot and use the metal cans as noisemakers.
Give Back to the Community through Donations
If DIY projects are not your thing (we aren’t all gifted in the art department), consider donating your empty cans.
Some local organizations collect empty bottles and tins for art projects for children’s programs, storage bins in classrooms and offices, and even education programs where supplies are needed!
In Conclusion: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Babies are born every day, so let’s do our part to decrease our environmental impact by recycling. If your baby formula containers can be recycled, learn how to do so correctly.
If not, it’s time to get creative and find ways to reuse and upcycle them. Create a recycling plan for your family, and let’s leave this Earth better than we found it for our children 🌎❤️.
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