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Tic Tac's New Packaging: Better, Not Great

The entire line of Tic Tac mints is switching over to a different type of plastic packaging, one that is more recyclable than the previous plastic, but a type that still has some barriers to being widely recycled.

The previous Tic Tac packaging was polystyrene, identified by the resin code 6. Compared to plastics like PET and HDPE (resin codes 1 and 2, the plastics most bottles and product packages are made of), polystyrene is not that widely recycled. Also unlike those other plastics, polystyrene, when it is recycled, does not get turned into more polystyrene. It is instead used as a filler in items that can't be recycled.

Tic Tac mints will now come in polypropylene packaging, identified by the resin code 5, which can be recycled into new polypropylene. But one of the problems with polypropylene is that is isn't widely accepted in recycling systems.

However, there is at least one recycling stream for polypropylene ensuring that all the plastic ends up as new products that can be recycled again. Preserve is a company that makes kitchen and personal care items like bowls, toothbrushes and razors out of number 5 plastic. They take any plastic stamped with resin code 5, including Brita water filters.

For a while they were relying on plastic that would get mailed in, but last year they partnered with Whole Foods Market and now have collection bins at Whole Foods locations around the country.

So even though the new Tic Tac packaging can't be thrown into just any recycling bin, a better second life exists for it than for the previous packaging.

And the new packaging has benefits beyond being recyclable. According to Tic Tac, the new packaging reduces the brand's plastic use by 296 tons a year, greenhouse gas emissions by 44 percent and energy use by 34 percent.

Tic Tac is even helping consumers find places to recycle the packaging, directing them to to search for places that take polypropylene.

Tic Tac mints - CC license by A Sense of Place Photography

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