Biodegradable vs. Recyclable: Which is the Better Packaging Solution?

TerraCycle Tom-Blog
We all know that packaging waste is a major issue. But what is the most feasible solution? Today there are fundamentally three choices for consumer packaged goods companies: non-recyclable, recyclable and biodegradable (reusable packaging, a la glass milk jugs are a fourth option that is quickly disappearing.) This question is incredibly important as we as a society try to find a balance between consumerism, capitalism and environmentalism. Please read on and join the discussion. My hope is to get the great minds of TreeHugger engaged in this vital debate. Non-recyclable has very limited choices outside a landfill or incinerator. At TerraCycle we are pioneering upcycling solutions for non-recyclable waste streams through our free national collection programs, the Brigades. However, these programs (almost 12,000 collection sites strong) are merely a drop in the ocean when compared to the many billions of used packages discarded every year. Recycling works for many papers, plastics and metals. While an amazing solution - the only catch with recycling is that only the polymer of the waste stream is viewed as valuable (the shape is viewed as waste). In the end, with an investment of energy (less than what it takes to extract and make virgin materials) the valuable raw materials of the package can be rescued and reused.