Tupperware is easy to use, easy to wash, and fairly easy to store. But enough use can wear down your Tupperware like anything else. So, what do you do with your Tupperware when it no longer serves it’s purpose – is Tupperware recyclable?
In this article we cover exactly what you can do with your old Tupperware, when to throw away Tupperware, whether it is recyclable or not, Tupperware alternatives, and more.
Does Tupperware expire?
The majority of Tupperware will expire. Although, the lifespan of your Tupperware will vary based upon frequency of use and type of use. Foods that are high in acidity, such as garlic or tomatoes, can penetrate the Tupperware easier and weaken it.
The average homeowner can expect to get around 10 years of use out of their Tupperware before having to give it a new home. It’s more than possible to get 20 years of use out of your Tupperware containers, but given enough time all products will lose their shape and function. https://theecohub.com/what-old-plastic-tupperware-containers/
There are several signs that it could be time to replace your plastic Tupperware containers:
- Hard Stains: The years’ worth of food that was stored in your Tupperware will undoubtedly leave a mark – even if you always washed it diligently. If you aren’t able to scrub out harsh stains from your Tupperware, it’s a sign that food residue has seeped into the pores of the Tupperware material.
- Off/Odd Smell: Weird smells in old Tupperware often come from the food residues of the hard stains. These stains and smells aren’t exactly pleasant – it’s almost like your Tupperware is telling you to get rid of it!
- Warping: If your Tupperware has warped to the point where it’s become difficult to fit the lid on, it’s probably time to replace it. Years of use and microwave heat will eventually make almost all Tupperware warp to some degree or another.
- Cracking: Normal wear and tear alongside aging can sometimes cause Tupperware containers to crack. Cracks not only break the airtight seal your container had, but also may lead to leaking and a messy refrigerator.
Is Tupperware BPA free?
BPA, Bisphenol A, is present in some plastic Tupperware containers. Bisphenol A is a chemical used in the production of many plastics and epoxy resins. There has been research since the 1960s showing that BPA may contribute to the onset of certain diseases such as diabetes, multiple cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. It’s also been linked to infertility and hormone disruption. https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/nutrition/is-tupperware-bpa-free/
If your Tupperware was manufactured before 2010, it almost certainly contains BPA, as almost all major brands used the chemical to make polycarbonate plastic up until that date. Most Tupperware containers manufactured today are BPA free. You can be certain your container doesn’t contain BPA if it’s marked by a number 1,2, or 5. https://theecohub.com/what-old-plastic-tupperware-containers/
Is Tupperware recyclable? – old Tupperware warning
Some plastic Tupperware containers are recyclable. Whether your Tupperware is recyclable or not will be dictated by a few numbers and symbols on the bottom of the container. You’ll know for certain that you can recycle your container if there is a recycling symbol on it – a triangle made up of three arrows – accompanied by a number 1,2 or 4. https://sites.google.com/site/rlmrecycling/home/what-do-the-recycling-numbers-mean
On the other side of things, if your Tupperware container is marked by a 5 or 7, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to recycle it. Number 5 and 7 plastics are not generally accepted at recycling centers, so be sure to check your containers before recycling them. If you can, reach out to your local recycling facility to find out what number plastics they accept beforehand.
The numbers located on the bottom of your plastic containers each denote a certain material:
- PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate): used in some Tupperware containers. Is recyclable.
- HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene): used in some Tupperware containers, plastic wraps, and plastic bottles. Is recyclable.
- PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): used in a variety of plastic products, not Tupperware.
- LDPE (Low–Density Polyethylene): used in some Tupperware, sandwich bags, and grocery bags. Usually non-recyclable.
- PP (Polypropylene): used in many Tupperware containers and other hard plastic containers. Select recyclability.
- PS (Polystyrene): used in Styrofoam and other disposable packaging materials. Can’t be recycled.
- All other plastics: May be in any product. Almost never recyclable.
Is old Tupperware dangerous?
There are a number of different factors that may make your Tupperware unsafe to store food in or eat out of. As we went over, if BPA is present in your Tupperware, it can be dangerous to use because BPA has been linked to the onset of several diseases and health complications.
Old Tupperware can sometimes just be dangerous in the sense that it’s “old.” If your Tupperware was made during or before the 1980s, there is a good chance contains more than just BPA. Until recent years, manufacturing processes were allowed to go unwatched by the eyes of certain regularity organizations. This means that dangerous chemicals, such as arsenic, lead, and mercury could be present in some vintage Tupperware containers. https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/nutrition/is-tupperware-bpa-free/
What should you do with old Tupperware?
Considering the health consequences of continuing to use or eat out of old Tupperware, most consumers reach a point where they are ready to get rid of it. Your first instinct may be to simply throw your Tupperware away or recycle it (if possible), but there are a few other options you may want to consider first.
Recycling is probably first on everyone’s list when it comes to available options for disposing of Tupperware. If you can recycle, you should, but it’s necessary to make sure your recycling center will accept the type of plastic your container is made out of first. Many modern Tupperware containers are made with #5 plastic, which is only accepted at select recycling centers.
If your local recycling facility doesn’t accept your containers, try recycling through TerraCycle. They are a company that specializes in tough-to-recycle products and accepts many name brand plastics such as Rubbermaid and Ziploc.
2. Upcycle Old Tupperware
If you can’t recycle, why not repurpose? Tupperware reaches a point where it shouldn’t store food anymore, but that doesn’t mean it can’t store other small items. Tupperware makes a fantastic organizer for an infinite number of things, but here are some common items:
- Art and crafts supplies
- Office supplies
- Baseball cards, playing cards, etc.
- Ornaments, decorations, knick-knacks, etc.
- Jewelry, toys, toiletries
3. Donate Tupperware
Maybe your Tupperware is in decent shape, but you still want it out of your house? As long as your Tupperware contains are still completely functional, your local donation center or Goodwill would probably accept them. Certain thrift stores accept Tupperware containers as well.
What are the best Tupperware alternatives?
Getting rid of your plastic storage containers can go a long way in reducing your environmental footprint. There are more than a few options when it comes to alternatives for Tupperware.
- Glass Jars and Storage Containers: They may not be number one on everyone’s list but they certainly beat plastic Tupperware containers or plastic bags. Glass jars have significantly less impact on the environment and are generally free of all BPA related health concerns. Glass containers are also easier to keep clean and free of the stain/smell buildup that can come with Tupperware containers.
- Stainless Steel: While it can be a bit bulky, stainless steel makes for a fantastic food storage container. It’s already the primary food container for those in the restaurant/catering business, and is especially useful with large quantities of food.
- Eco–friendly Paper Bags: If you are caught in a pinch and need handy alternative for Tupperware containers, consider paper bags and snack containers. There are a variety of eco-friendly paper bag options available on the market that do well at storing things like cookies, sandwiches, trail mix, and other snacks.
- Beeswax Wraps: These are a popular eco-friendly food storage option that make for a good alternative to Tupperware. Beeswax wraps can be used to wrap individual items like sandwiches, or cover bowls, plates, and other dishes.
- Bamboo Containers: Bamboo has become another popular sustainable alternative to Tupperware. Bamboo is a material that’s grown, harvested, and processed in a way that has minimal impact on the environment. Bamboo containers can be used to store food in the refrigerator or freezer, and is in no way dangerous to your health. https://theroundup.org/is-bamboo-eco-friendly/
Tupperware can clutter up a kitchen fast, and if you aren’t using it, what’s the point of keeping it? There are a variety of options when it comes to dealing with old Tupperware, but you’ll want to pick the one that best suits your circumstance. Recycling won’t always be an option, so be sure to consider upcycling and repurposing. With the right steps and information, it’s more than possible to do away with your old Tupperware in a way that’s beneficial for you and the environment.