In an age of plenty, what do you get someone for a birthday or Christmas?  A gift card, of course.  But what are they made of? What do I do with them after I use them?

Traditional paper gift certificates have been all but been replaced by a more modern gift card resembling a credit or debit card. The plastic that gift cards are made of is polyvinyl chloride acetate (PVCA), a composition of copolymers of vinyl acetate and vinyl chloride. Some are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

The plastic credit card-style gift cards are all recyclable as a specific commodity. But is there a better option for them after you have used them? You bet there is.

Gift cards are all reloadable. If you have an empty gift card from a store or restaurant that you frequent, you can reload a small amount of money onto them here and there. This will be very useful to you as a kind of savings account for places.

If you’d rather not reload and reuse gift cards, simply place them in your recycling bin to allow them to be part of a newly recycled plastic item.

For more information on recyclable materials or new ways to reuse old items visit