Can you recycle gift cards? 7 ways to avoid sending them to the landfill


While it is becoming more and more common for people to give each other electronic vouchers for shops and restaurants, plastic gift cards are still a popular present for birthdays and holidays.

But what do you when you use up the funds on the card? Some people throw them into the trash or recycling bin, but unfortunately, few recycling programs accept them, reports Recycle Bank.

Patrick Maiorano, VP of Supply Chain and Procurement for Blackhawk Network, the company behind, says that it’s because “gift cards are made of multiple substrates, including PVC, PVC-A, paper, and styrene.” Because of this and their small size, many programs can’t accept the cards for recycling because they may contaminate other items in the batch.

However, there are several options for environmentally-conscious gift card recipients once they’ve tapped out the funds, check them out below!

Reload the card

If you received a gift card for a place you frequent, say your favorite coffee shop, ask if you can reload the card with additional funds. Moving forward, that can become your go-to method of payment when you swing by!

Make music with old gift cards

Are you an avid guitar player? You can use a special hole punch to make guitar picks out of your old gift cards.

Use them for playing

If you have little ones in the house who like to play store, give them your empty gift cards to make their imaginary shopping experience feel more life-like.

Turn them into tools

No, you can’t use a gift card as a hammer, but Balance Everyday has some neat tips for using old gift cards. If you’re into pottery you can use an old gift card as a scraper, or if you knit or cross stitch, punch holes into gift cards to use as thread organizers.

Use them for your papercrafts

Many gift cards feature pretty designs, which you can incorporate into craft projects. Cut out a snowflake from a holiday gift card to put on a homemade greeting card, or use the flowers from a Mother’s Day card for your next scrapbooking project.

Hide a spare key

All you need to hide a spare key on your person is two gift cards: tape the key to the back of one of the gift cards, then tape another gift card on top of it and slip it into your wallet. Tuck the whole thing into one of the credit card slots in your wallet, and you’ll always have a spare key with you!

Keep track of your plants

Instead of springing for fancy plant markers for your garden, take old gift cards and paint them, then use a waterproof marker to write the names of your plantings. You'll never confuse cilantro and parsley again!

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