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Burt’s Bees Closes Loop on Hard-to-Recycle Plastic

Burt’s Bees has partnered with Preserve to spur collection of #5 plastics from lip balm tubes and caps, while providing raw material for consumer goods.

The partnership will recover plastics from Burt’s Bees Lip Balm, Tinted Lip Balm and Lip Shimmer products, and use them to create goods including toothbrushes and razors.

Polypropylene plastic, also known as #5 plastic, is the most common plastic in use in the US, according to the companies. It can be easily recycled, yet less than one percent of it actually is recycled. Lip balm tubes are also too small to be collected easily in the automated separators used by most materials recovery facilities, the companies say.

Preserve’s Gimme 5 recycling system aims to close the loop for #5 plastics by expanding recycling options for the material, with collection points at participating Whole Foods Market locations and select co-op stores (location are listed at mygimme5.com). Consumers can also mail in their tubes to Gimme 5.

Burt’s Bees joins existing Gimme 5 program partners Stonyfield, Brita and Tom’s of Maine.

Burt’s Bees, a Clorox company, says it produces the number one selling lip balm in the US. The company’s Beeswax Lip Balm was originally sold in a clay pot, then a tin, before Burt’s Bees started putting it in recycled plastic tubes in the 1990s.

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