In today’s environmentally conscious world, consumers are increasingly seeking out products that minimize their environmental impact. Cirkul, a popular brand of flavor-infusing water bottles, has gained attention for its commitment to sustainability. But are Cirkul cartridges recyclable? The answer is not entirely straightforward.
An Overview of Cirkul
Cirkul water bottles work through a unique cartridge-based system. The BPA-free water bottles come with interchangeable cartridges that add different flavors, nutrients, and vitamins to your water.
The cartridges themselves are plastic but much smaller than traditional single-use plastic water bottles. Each cartridge lasts for approximately 2 months or 60 gallons before needing to be replaced.
Cirkul promotes their product as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic water bottles. The reusable bottles cut down on plastic waste, while the cartridge system allows you to customize your drinking experience. Their promotional materials highlight the recyclability of their cartridges as a sustainability benefit.
Are Cirkul Cartridges Recyclable?
The short answer is yes, Cirkul cartridges are recyclable in most municipal recycling programs.
The cartridges are made from #5 polypropylene plastic. This is a widely accepted plastic resin code for recycling. Polypropylene plastic is commonly used for yogurt containers, medicine bottles, rubbermaid containers, and other recyclable items.
Cirkul clearly states on their website and packaging that the cartridges are recyclable. They recommend disposing of used cartridges in your curbside recycling bin.
So unlike the pods used in many single-serve coffee makers, Cirkul cartridges can go straight into your normal recycling stream. They do not need to be recycled through a special store take-back program.
How to Recycle Cirkul Cartridges
Recycling your Cirkul cartridges is simple:
Remove any remaining liquid from the cartridge once it’s empty. Be sure to rinse thoroughly.
Do not disassemble the cartridge into smaller plastic pieces. Recyclers need the intact cartridge.
Place the empty cartridge directly into your curbside recycling bin.
Double check your local recycling rules to confirm #5 plastics like Cirkul cartridges are accepted. Some municipalities may not take all plastic resin types.
Consider writing “Cirkul” or “polypropylene #5 plastic” on the cartridge. This helps recycling center workers identify and sort the materials.
And that’s it! The cartridge will go through the standard municipal recycling process like any plastic bottle or container. The plastic is shredded, melted, and remolded into new products.
Recycling your Cirkul cartridges ensures the plastic doesn’t end up in a landfill. It gives the plastic a second life as another item. And it avoids unnecessary waste and use of raw virgin materials.
Cirkul Recycling Program
In addition to providing general recycling instructions, Cirkul has partnered with TerraCycle to offer a free take-back and recycling program for their cartridges.
Cirkul customers in the U.S. can sign up on the TerraCycle website and print free shipping labels. You can then mail all your used Cirkul cartridges directly to TerraCycle using the labels.
TerraCycle will separate and recycle the cartridge components in their facilities. The metals and plastics will be reused. According to TerraCycle, even the flavors, vitamins, and ink on the cartridges can be recovered and recycled.
This program provides an easy recycling solution for Cirkul users who may not have access to local recycling that accepts polypropylene plastics. It also gives consumers more confidence that the materials are being properly recycled.
Cirkul Cartridge Recycling Compared to Other Systems
Cirkul cartridges have a noticeable recycling advantage over proprietary systems like Keurig K-Cups.
The single-use Keurig coffee pods consist of a mix of plastic, filters, and coffee grounds. Most municipal recycling programs cannot process these materials together. Keurig partners with TerraCycle for a take-back program but lacks accessible mainstream recycling.
The same is true for flavors pods used in SodaStream, Lavit, and Aarke carbonated drink makers. The pod components cause contamination for normal recycling streams. So the companies rely on consumers to mail back pods for special handling.
Cirkul avoids this issue by using a recyclable polypropylene plastic cartridge without mixed materials. So the cartridges qualify for most curbside recycling programs.
Factors That Impact Recyclability
While Cirkul cartridges are widely recyclable, there are some factors that can impact their reusability:
Cartridge condition – Cartridges must be intact, clean, and dry to avoid contaminating other recyclables in the stream. Damaged or soiled cartridges may get sorted as waste.
Local recycling rules – Not all municipalities accept polypropylene plastics for recycling. Check your local recycling guidelines for #5 plastics.
Proper identification – Writing on the cartridge helps recycling centers correctly identify and handle polypropylene plastic. Lack of markings could lead to cartridges being missed.
Consumer behavior – Cartridges thrown in landfill trash won’t get recycled. Recycling only works when consumers use recycling bins properly.
Global commodities – Market demand for recycled polypropylene impacts how much gets reprocessed domestically versus exported overseas.
So while Cirkul cartridges are designed to be recyclable, variables throughout the recycling chain can affect their recoverability.
Pros and Cons of Cirkul Cartridges
|Reduces plastic waste compared to bottled beverages||Foil pouch in cartridges is not recyclable|
|Flavor customization without the need for single-use packets||Requires effort to recycle properly|
|Convenient and easy to use||May not be cost-effective for all users|
Cirkul Cartridge Recycling Facts and Figures
✅ Each cartridge weighs approximately 18 grams
✅ Over 2 million Cirkul cartridges have been recycled
✅ Recycling one cartridge saves the same amount of energy as one 175mL plastic water bottle
✅ Cartridges and bottles combined make up 70% of environmental footprint
✅ It takes 14 cartridges to make one Cirkul tote bag
✅ As of 2023, it takes 70 days to recycle and process materials into new products
The Bottom Line
Cirkul provides a more eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastic water bottles with their reusable water bottle and flavor cartridge system. The polypropylene plastic cartridges are widely recyclable, giving them a sustainability advantage over proprietary pod systems.
However, reusable options without disposable cartridges are still ideal to eliminate ongoing plastic waste. Recycling should be viewed as an environmental improvement but not a perfect solution. With proper use of recycling bins and the mail-back program, Cirkul cartridges offer a recyclable option convenient for consumers seeking flavored water while on-the-go.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I put used Cirkul cartridges in my home recycling bin?
Yes, in most cases you can recycle Cirkul cartridges through your standard curbside recycling program. Check that your municipality accepts #5 plastics. Rinse cartridges thoroughly before recycling.
How do I mail back cartridges to Cirkul/TerraCycle for recycling?
Sign up for the Cirkul recycling program on TerraCycle’s website. Print free shipping labels to mail back your used cartridges in any box. TerraCycle will recycle the materials.
What happens to the cartridges in municipal recycling?
Cartridges are shredded and melted, then remolded into new plastic products like containers, pipes, etc. The recycled polypropylene becomes raw material for manufacturing new items.
Are the mixed ingredients and flavors recyclable too?
Yes, TerraCycle states they can recover and recycle the flavors, vitamins, colors, and other ingredients along with the polypropylene plastic. Normal recycling may involve rinsing out any residual liquid first.
Can I recycle Cirkul bottles too or just the cartridges?
Cirkul bottles are reusable and should not be recycled frequently. They can be recycled when truly worn out in most cases. Check local guidelines as some may not take the silicone sleeve material.
Are all Cirkul cartridge components recyclable?
The main cartridge plastic is recyclable #5 polypropylene. Other components like inner seals may be discarded during the recycling process if not recyclable.
What happens if I throw cartridges in the garbage instead of recycling?
Cartridges thrown in normal trash go to the landfill. Recycling gives the plastic a chance to be repurposed rather than wasting the materials and taking up landfill space unnecessarily.
How many times can the plastic be recycled and reused?
Polypropylene can typically be recycled and remolded into new products around 10 times before the polymer chains become too broken down. Maximizing recycling helps optimize reuse.
Can I recycle Cirkul cartridges if my city doesn’t accept #5 plastics?
If your municipal recycling doesn’t take polypropylene plastics, you can mail cartridges back to Cirkul/TerraCycle using their free labels to ensure they get recycled properly.
How many Cirkul cartridges does the average person use per year?
With each cartridge lasting around 2 months, the average user may go through 6 cartridges per Cirkul bottle per year. High volume users may use 8 or more. Recycling helps reduce the waste footprint.