NOW partners with TerraCycle to recycle its ‘non-recycable’ packaging

By Adi Menayang contact

- Last updated on GMT

Flexible food and supplement pouches, as well as toothpaste tubes, aren't accepted by most curbside recycling facilities.
Flexible food and supplement pouches, as well as toothpaste tubes, aren't accepted by most curbside recycling facilities.

Related tags: Corporate social responsibility, Environment, Environmental impact, Recycled content, Sustainability

Illinois-based supplement maker NOW wants to encourage its customers to recycle its packaging—even the ones that don’t usually get recycled.

Toothpaste tubes and flimsy pouch packaging aren’t accepted by most municipal-run, curbside recycling programs, but NOW is giving its customers the option to send back empty packaging of these types to get recycled through a partnership with New Jersey-based TerraCycle, which works with corporations, manufacturers, municipalities, and individual households to process hard-to-recycle materials.

A side note, the material used to package most of its supplement containers, polyethylene terephthalate or PET, is picked up by most curbside recycling programs.

“We know our customers are as committed to protecting the environment as we are,”​ said NOW CEO Jim Emme. “Making it easy for people to recycle packaging that usually ends up in landfills is a natural extension of NOW’s 50-year commitment to being stewards of the earth.”

To get its buyers involved, NOW supplies a free shipping label for consumers to send empty NOW pouches and tubes to TerraCycle for processing at no cost.

Once collected, the packaging is cleaned and melted into plastic pellets that can be remodeled to make new products.

Retail customers can also get free, branded collection bins to set up in their stores so they can be drop off points for consumers. Under this scheme, for every pound of waste shipped to TerraCycle, collectors earn $1 to donate to a non-profit, school, or charitable organization of choice.

The NOW Recycling Program is one of NOW’s environmental initiatives, which includes using recycled shipping boxes, using energy efficient lighting in its facilities, putting in place water conservation measures, and making a conscious effort to diver all of its electronic waste from landfills to recycle 400 tons of material per year.

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What does Corporate Social Responsibility look like in the supplement space?

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As more supplement brands go great lengths to be transparent to consumers, communicating corporate social responsibility (CSR) creatively becomes key.

“A lot of people think [CSR] is really just for big companies—that the smaller companies are under the radar, that they’re not being scrutinized,”​ said Nancy Himmelfarb, principal of her own firm NJH Sustainability Consulting, during a panel discussion hosted by the Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network last week.

It’s not true, she added. “If smaller companies want to appeal to customers, or want to be on Walmart shelves, want to potentially get acquired one day—you’ve got investors to satisfy, and of course consumers. You’re facing a lot of pressures, and this really applies across the board.”


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