Can I recycle ... plastic credit, debit and gift cards?


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Plastic credit and debit cards are often made from polyvinyl chloride, or PVC No. 3 plastic, which usually is recyclable in L.A.’s blue bin. But L.A. officials recommend that the cards be cut into tiny pieces so that they can’t be pieced together and personal information stolen from them. The cut-up cards should be placed in the black bin, not recycled.

For consumers’ protection, the L.A. Bureau of Sanitation recommends that they check with the issuing agency for guidelines on disposing of credit and debit cards.


Used gift cards made of plastic, paper and poly-coated paper don’t contain personal data, however, and can be recyclable through L.A.’s blue bin.

Earthworks System in Ohio is a PVC-recycling company that lets customers mail in old plastic cards, including driver’s licenses. If the cards contain sensitive information, they should first be cut up well. The cards are then ground up and recycled into new plastic cards.

Because policies and recommendations vary from city to city, each week we ask a sampling of officials from various municipalities to weigh in. Keep reading to find out whether you can recycle plastic credit and debit cards in …

Burbank: Not curbside. They can be placed in the mixed plastic bins at the Burbank Recycle Center.

Culver City: No

Glendale: No

Irvine: Only if whole, which is not recommended

Long Beach: No

Los Angeles: No

Riverside: Yes, though not recommended

Santa Ana: Only if whole, which is not recommended

Santa Barbara: No

Santa Monica: No

Torrance: No

Ventura: Yes, though customers are encouraged to cut up the cards first

-- Susan Carpenter

Illustration credit: Stephen Sedam / For The Times



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