Lumi defines drop-off recyclable materials as those that can be recycled when deposited at a designated facility. Many communities do not offer curbside recycling programs, however they may have centers that can process certain recycled materials.
With few exceptions, most materials by themselves can be dropped off for recycling somewhere. Once multiple materials are combined into a multilayered construction, any chance of drop-off recyclability is usually compromised.
Why choose it
Recycling extends the life of materials and saves resources, lowering the demand for raw materials needed to create new products. Paper fibers can be recycled up to 5-7 times1. Plastic recyclability depends on the type of plastic, but if processed correctly hard plastics like PET, HDPE, PP, and PS can be recycled at least once without too much of a decline in quality2. Recycling films (plastic bags) is tougher to do but still possible2.
For some materials, dropoff recycling is the only option in cities, so brands may opt to give their customers this option rather than using materials that rule out recycling altogether.
Why not choose it
It’s important to remain realistic about recycling rates. For example, while LDPE (the thin plastic film that often makes up many shopping bags) is technically drop-off recyclable, an estimated 7% of shopping bags are recycled in the US3.
Companies may want to ease the disposal burden on their customers by offering curbside recyclable options instead.
Film Recycling Investment Report (Closed Loop Partners)
National Sword (99% Invisible, 2019)
John Tierney. The Reign of Recycling (The New York Times, 2015)
The APR Design Guide for Plastics Recyclability (APR, 2018)
The 2016 State of Curbside Report (The Recycling Partnership, 2016)