Many people give and receive gift cards during the holiday season. In fact, it’s estimated that 93% of American consumers have either sent or received a gift card at some point in their lives. Gift cards make shopping for other people much easier since you can simply buy a card instead of picking out a specific item. But, what should you do with the gift card after the money on it has been spent? Can gift cards be recycled? Here’s what you should know:

Find A Gift Card Recycler

Local recycling centers typically cannot process gift cards. For this reason, it’s important to research other recyclers that do accept gift cards so you know how to dispose of the cards in a responsible manner. Until a couple of years ago, Earthworks was one of the most well-know gift card recyclers in the country. But, the company stopped accepting gift cards due to the increasing complexities involved with recycling them.

Now, consumers must search for other options, such as TerraCycle. Purchase a small box from the TerraCycle website, fill it with used gift cards and any other plastic cards that you no longer need, then send it back. TerraCycle will then properly dispose of all of the items inside of the box. It may be a good idea to buy the box now and then fill it with gift cards as you spend them.

Reload Gift Cards Instead of Throwing Them Away

If the money on the gift card has been spent, visit the retailer and ask if you can add more money onto the card instead of throwing it away. If you don’t regularly shop at the store, consider giving the reloaded gift card to someone else as a gift in the future. This is a great way to reuse the card instead of throwing it away.

Some Cards Are Biodegradable

Believe it or not, some retailers sell biodegradable gift cards, which are much more eco-friendly than traditional gift cards. Before throwing a gift card away, read the back of the card to see if it is biodegradable. If you can’t find any information, do a quick Google search to find out if the retailer sells biodegradable cards.

If a card is biodegradable, it’s best to dig a small hole in the ground for it so it can break down into the earth. It may seem weird “burying” a gift card, but this is the best way to dispose of biodegradable gift cards.

Look For E-Gift Cards

Recycling standard gift cards can be challenging, but this doesn’t mean you should stop buying them altogether. Instead, the next time that you buy someone a gift card, choose an e-gift card instead of a plastic one. An e-gift card can be accessed via the recipient’s mobile phone or computer, so it doesn’t produce any waste. Even if the recipient decides to print the e-gift card out, the paper that it is printed on can easily be recycled.

Recycling or reusing gift cards is not as easy as recycling or reusing other household items. But, it’s important to make an effort to recycle these plastic cards so they don’t end up in our landfills.