‘Trick-or-Trash’ Recycling Program Ends Halloween

This Halloween, Mars and Rubicon are teaming up to give cheaters an easy way to collect and recycle their candy wrapper scraps.

Mars, one of the world’s largest producers of candy and confectionery, and Rubicon, a digital marketplace for recycling, are working to expand the Trick-or-Trash candy wrapper recycling initiative launched by Rubicon in 2019. Through the program, participants can sign up to receive a recyclable “Trick-or-Trash” bag with a prepaid postage stamp and instructions on how to collect candy wrapper waste and return it for recycling appropriate.

Candy wrappers are not recyclable in most municipal recycling programs, so the wrappers of approximately 600 million pounds of candy purchased in the United States each season end up in landfills. The average cheater generates a pound of trash, most of which is plastic candy wrappers. Trick-or-Trash aims to give Halloween lovers a simple, fun and free way to fight waste.

Mars, the maker of candy brands like M&M’s, Skittles and Snickers, knows about Halloween, and business leaders see the opportunity to invest in making the holidays more environmentally friendly. “As the authority on Halloween, it is extremely important that we invest in our greatest season in one of our greatest opportunities: recycle our packagingTim LeBel, president of sales at Mars and “director of Halloween,” told TriplePundit.

For Rubicon, “our mission is simple: end waste,” said Dan Sampson, director of marketing and communications. “We want to get people out of the dump model. We don’t think taking trash and burying it in the ground is a sustainable way for people to function. It’s bad for people, businesses, the environment and communities. We want as much waste as possible to be diverted from landfills.

From classrooms to community centers, expanding the Trick-or-Trash program for a more circular Halloween

More than 75% of Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year, up 11% from 2021, and 93 percent of them plan to incorporate chocolate and candy into their celebrations.

“There are several times in the year when the amount of waste generated increases,” explained Sampson of Rubicon. “A lot of those times are around the holidays, when people spend more on things like candy. Packaging is increasing and litter is increasing at a proportional rate. Halloween is one of those times when the volume of litter increases. Most packaging materials aren’t recyclable, so we tried to come up with an idea to combat this problem while having fun, and Trick-or-Trash was born out of that.

Rubicon launched the Trick-or-Trash campaign in 2019 by providing schools with candy wrapper recycling boxes, reaching 450 schools that year. When schools closed amid the pandemic in 2020, Rubicon pivoted and expanded the program to include 750 businesses and community organizations.

The program reached 2,000 schools and businesses late last year, and now it’s expanding again. “Mars came to us with the idea of ​​creating a Trick-or-Trash bag using the same process as our Trick-or-Trash boxes,” Sampson said.

Cheaters register online to receive a door-to-door bag, which can be filled, sealed and returned via a prepaid return label. “This program is in its fourth year, and with the addition of Mars, it’s bigger and better than ever,” Sampson said.

The reverse trick-or-treat bags became available online on October 6, and the initial run of 5,000 bags sold out in five hours. “The bags were available in all 50 states and we had purchases in all 50 states,” LeBel said of Mars. “The word got around very quickly. We have been overwhelmed with support. Thousands of additional bags are reserved for communities where Mars associates live and work, including Topeka, Kansas; Waco, TX; and Newark, New Jersey. “Due to the incredibly positive response, every hour we are re-examining what more we can do. This is just one step in creating a more circular vacation,” LeBel continued.

How are candy wrappers and Trick-or-Trash bags recycled?

“The makeup of an average candy wrapper is usually a mix of materials that doesn’t lend itself to simple recycling like a can or a bottle does,” Sampson explained. “There is plastic in it, but there is also often aluminum and other materials. Moreover, the packaging is so small that it is not easily recycled either. »

Rubicon recycling partner, G2 Revolution, is responsible for handling Trick-or-Trash bags. At the G2 plant, the bags are emptied onto a conveyor belt and inspected for non-recyclable materials, which are extracted and discarded. The wrappers are then cleaned to remove food residue, and the clean wrappers are made into pellets – which is the processing material for creating new products. “Individual wrappers, when discarded, are nearly impossible to recycle,” Sampson said. “When we collect in bulk, like in Trick-or-Trash, they can be processed and recycled efficiently.”

“The genius is in the simplicity of this program,” added LeBel. “It’s user-friendly and super easy. Most people try to do the right thing, so if you can make it easy for the consumer, you can do some magic.

make a move

While reducing waste is a core mission for Rubicon, Sampson also stressed the importance of educating young people about sustainability — and Halloween is the perfect time to do so. The company has partnered with the National Wildlife Federation to create educational programs, lesson plans and playlists for kids of all skill levels, which are available for free on the Trick-or-Trash. website. “We included this component because it’s important to us to educate future generations,” Sampson told us. “We can help teachers show their students how recycling works and why it’s important.

The Mars boost was well-timed as Rubicon looks to expand the impact of its Halloween programming even further. “Given our mission, we are always looking for partners with genuine commitments to sustainability,” Sampson said. “We’ve expanded our footprint and have a bigger impact on Halloween trash, and Mars is accelerating that.”

This series of articles is sponsored by Mars and produced by the TriplePundit editorial team.

Image courtesy of Mars Incorporated