Disclaimer: This post is NOT an endorsement of DuPont Tyvek. DuPont Tyvek is plastic. According to DuPont, it is “very fine fibers of 100 percent high-density polyethylene that are randomly distributed and nondirectional. These fibers are first flash spun, then laid as a web on a moving bed before being bonded together by heat and pressure – without the use of binders, sizers or fillers.”
All the items down the left side of the page are products in my house made from DuPont Tyvek. I mention Tyvek because many people don’t realize it’s actually plastic and may try and recycle it with their paper. And for those of us trying to reduce our plastic use, it’s important to be aware of anything that is made from plastic.
But what makes Tyvek difficult to avoid is that many Tyvek products come to us unsolicited, especially at work. We might receive Priority Mail and Federal Express deliveries in Tyvek envelopes. CDs might come in Tyvek sleeves. At home, tags and labels are often made of Tyvek. One tag in the photos is attached to a futon. The other was one I removed from a throw rug. And as I’ve mentioned before, runners’ race numbers are nearly always made from Tyvek.
More items to watch out for, according to DuPont’s web site: banners and signs, weather-resistant maps and guides, wrist bands, kites, games, children’s moisture and rip-resistant books, furniture and automotive protective covers, and home weatherization materials. These can all be made from Tyvek plastic.
So what can you do if you happen to acquire items made from DuPont Tyvek? Well, of course the first thing to do is reuse or Freecycle anything that can be reused. Part of Tyvek’s appeal is that it is so durable, making envelopes and sleeves reusable many times. But what if you have too many and for some reason can’t give them away? Or you have printed items like labels and tags that can’t be reused?
Since they are made from #2 plastic, they can be recycled. However, not in your curbside bin and not in any regular plastic bag recycling program. Instead, DuPont has created a Tyvek take back program.
For small quantities (less than 25), stuff them in an inside-out Tyvek envelope and mail them to:
Attn. Shirley B. Wright
2400 Elliham Avenue #A
Richmond, VA 23237
The web page only mentions recycling Tyvek envelopes, as opposed to any other products made from Tyvek. So I called DuPont and was told that we can in fact send other items made from Tyvek, as long as they are free of pins, paperclips, staples, or other contaminants. I would assume that means removing the plastic window from a Tyvek CD sleeve. But why would you need to recycle a CD sleeve when you can just reuse it?
For larger quantities, such as you might collect at work, you can call 1-866-33-Tyvek and ask for a Tyvek recycling pouch:
DuPont does not cover the cost of sending them back, so you do have to pay for postage. I think that if DuPont really cared about recycling, they’d pick up the tab like HP does for returning its printer cartridges. But then, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t be worrying about what to do with all this plastic in the first place.
Once again, I’m not endorsing DuPont Tyvek. It’s plastic made from petroleum like any other. But it’s good to recognize which items are made from it and to be able to reuse and recycle those that come our way.