We recently received an email asking how the little brown plastic bottles that pharmacies use to package prescriptions can be recycled, especially if a local government recycling program will not take them. Fear not! There doesn’t have to be more waste.
Take a look at the bottom of your plastic medicine or prescription bottle and see if there is a number 5, sometimes with the letters PP below it. The PP stands for polypropylene. Number 5 plastics are very common, including many types of yogurt or hummus tubs, and other things you regularly bring home from the grocery store. For any of you so inclined, be sure to read our 2-part spread on plastic recycling numbers and pick up tons of extra knowledge to guide you on any recycling quest.
Preserve Products offers a Gimme 5 program to recycle this type of plastic into their products like toothbrushes and razors. If you don’t live near one of the Gimme 5 retail locations, you can send items to them by mail. They do accept prescription medicine containers so long as they’re clearly stamped with a #5 recycling symbol. On their website, they ask that If the bottles have a sticker or paper label on them, please make your best attempt to remove it (soaking in water helps).
To make recycling even easier, Preserve also teamed up with Recyclebank and launched a mobile app that helps make recycling #5 plastic easier, and you get discounts and deals at local and national businesses, and for products from Preserve and their partners. So now you know- not only do you save plastic pill bottles from a landfill, they can be recycled into something new and useful AND you reap extra rewards. Go forth and recycle!
For some other ways to reuse plastic pill containers, see our post on recycling film canisters, as they are similar in size and shape. Be sure to properly dispose of any expired medication.
Recycle Old Medications
Now, see information on how to recycle old medications safely and responsibly. Finish up by learning why you should not throw or flush away your unused and expired medications, and where to take them instead.