Tupperware might look like it may go out of business, but all the Tupperware products we’ve bought from them over the decades are still with us. Tupperware started as a revolutionary plastic kitchen item that helped keep our food fresh and organized. We all loved it.
But over time, this gleaming product can become worn, and possibly unsafe even. If you have old Tupperware lying around, it’s time to declutter and find new ways to reuse or recycle it. Can you recycle Tupperware? Yes, mostly. This post goes into more details.
Read our posts on recycling plastic bottles, bubble wrap, and styrofoam.
What To Do With Old Tupperware
Take a good look at all the Tupperware items you have, and sort them out, after reading this post. There are many things you can do with them, such as:
1 / Reuse as storage containers
Even if your Tupperware no longer has its lid, it can still be useful. Use it to store craft supplies such as beads, buttons, and ribbon, or repurpose it as a drawer organizer for small items like batteries, keys, or screws. You can also use Tupperware as a planter to grow small herbs or succulents.
2 / Donate to a charity or school
If your Tupperware is still in good condition, donate it to a local charity or school. Many organizations are always in need of kitchen items to help feed the hungry or to provide meals for people in need. Alternatively, you can give it to a school that could use it for classroom activities, such as organizing school supplies or creating sensory bins for young students.
3 / Use it for arts and crafts
Tupperware can also be used for various arts and crafts projects. For example, you can use it to create a DIY light box for tracing images, or as a mold for homemade soap or candles. You can also cut it up and use it as stencils for painting or as a base for a homemade bird feeder.
4 / Recycle it
If your Tupperware is beyond repair or reuse, it’s time to recycle it. Tupperware is typically made from a type of plastic called polypropylene, which can be recycled. Check with your local recycling center to see if they accept polypropylene. If they do, clean your Tupperware thoroughly and drop it off at the center. If they don’t, consider finding a mail-in recycling program that accepts polypropylene.
Tupperware themselves say their BPA-free plastic containers are recyclable. They’re also labeled with recycling codes to help sort them.
If you find that your containers are labeled with the number 5 plastic resin symbol, then you’ll have to put in more effort, because number 5 rigid plastics are not accepted at most recycling centers. In this case, try Gimme 5 – the mail-in recycling program by Preserve that takes in number 5 plastics for recycling.
Can You Recycle Tupperware Lids?
Whether or not you can recycle Tupperware lids depends on the recycling policies of your local municipality or recycling facility. Tupperware lids are commonly made from polypropylene, which is recyclable.
In some areas, recycling facilities may not accept plastic lids as they are too small and can get lost in the recycling process. Additionally, if the lids are contaminated with food or other materials, they may not be accepted for recycling.
To ensure that your Tupperware lids can be recycled, it’s important to clean them thoroughly before placing them in the recycling bin. You should remove any food residue or other contaminants and rinse the lid with water. You can also consider using a dishwasher to clean the lids to ensure that they are free of any residue.
If your local recycling facility does not accept plastic lids, you can consider finding a mail-in recycling program that accepts polypropylene (such as Rubbermaid’s Food Storage Recycling Program in partnership with TerraCycle). Some programs allow you to mail in plastic lids and other small plastic items, such as straws or utensils.
When to Throw Away Tupperware
When should you throw out your old Tupperware? Well, when it’s too dirty looking or it even looks like it might melt any minute. But that’s subjective, right?;)
So, let’s list 3 simple guidelines for when you should definitely stop using your Tupperware and send it for recycling.
1 / It’s old
Plastics like bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates that used to be found in plastic containers can leach into the food from the container. Nowadays, though, manufacturers such as Tupperware have removed such toxic items from their products. But if your Tupperware is more than 10 years old, it might still contain these chemicals.
So, Tupperware older than 10 years? Stop using it.
2 / It’s stained or smells funky
You’ve heated and reheated various foods in the Tupperware container that it no longer looks like itself. It’s got stains that won’t go with a vigorous wash, and it smells weird. In such cases, it’s better to be safe than sorry – and use that container for another (non eating) purpose, or send it for recycling.
3 / Its texture has changed
You run your finger along the wall of the container and can feel bumps and ridges. Did the plastic melt sometime in the last several years?? Such disfigurations are not good news for the quality of your food, so best to let go of it (and repurpose or recycle it).
Can You Recycle Old Plastic Containers?
Whether or not your old plastic containers can be recycled depends on a few key factors, such as the type of plastic, the condition of the container, and the recycling policies in your local area.
Most plastic containers are labeled with a resin identification code, which indicates the type of plastic used to make the container. Common types of plastic include PET (polyethylene terephthalate), HDPE (high-density polyethylene), PVC (polyvinyl chloride), and PP (polypropylene).
Generally, plastic containers made from PET and HDPE are the most widely accepted for recycling. However, it’s important to note that not all recycling facilities accept all types of plastics, so it’s important to check with your local facility.
Also, recyclers can be anal about this: plastic containers must be clean and free of contaminants to be accepted for recycling. Food residue and other debris can contaminate the recycling stream and reduce the quality of the recycled plastic.
If your plastic containers cannot be recycled in your local area, consider finding a mail-in recycling program or exploring other recycling options, such as plastic lumber from consumer plastic, which can be used to make outdoor furniture, decking, and other products.
Is 40 year old Tupperware Safe to Use?
Is Tupperware from the 70s safe? Vintage Tupperware from the early days of the brand (1940s!) are still used in households around the world. And, such vintage items can be sold to eager collectors, if you happen to have some items at hand and would like to make some money. Check out this Vintage Tupperware Guide for more details (and some gorgeous photos!).
Tupperware is made from polyethylene, which has been considered safe for food contact. However, Tupperware that is 40 years old may have experienced wear and tear, which can affect its safety.
Older Tupperware items may contain small cracks, scratches, or discoloration, which can harbor bacteria and other harmful substances. Additionally, over time, the plastic may break down and release chemicals that can contaminate food. This means potential leaching of harmful chemicals and heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, and arsenic into your food.
To ensure the safety of your Tupperware, it’s important to inspect it regularly for any signs of damage or wear. If your Tupperware shows signs of wear, it’s best to replace it with new containers.
If you decide to keep using older Tupperware, make sure to clean it thoroughly before each use and avoid using it in the microwave or dishwasher, as these can cause further damage. But as mentioned, if it’s older than 10 years, then do not use it for food anymore.
This post was about recycling Tupperware
There are many ways to reuse or recycle old Tupperware. Whether you choose to repurpose it as storage containers, donate it to a charity, recycle it, or use it for arts and crafts projects, you can keep your Tupperware out of the landfill and give it a new purpose.
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