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Magic: The Gathering is testing booster pack recycling in some US game stores

A new bin in town.

Magic: The Gathering Garbage Elemental Hector Ortiz
Image credit: Wizards of the Coast

Magic: The Gathering players will soon have a new place to toss their cracked booster packs, thanks to a recycling initiative pilot test hitting certain game stores in the US. The sustainability project centres on large receptacles for collecting the trading card game’s plastic wrappers and returning them to publisher Wizards of the Coast.

The test was outlined in a recent article on the Wizards Play Network, a website the company uses to communicate promotional events and news with physical game stores. Wizards of the Coast has partnered with Terracycle, a privately-owned recycling company based in the US whose business model largely comprises agreements with large corporations and municipalities.

The boxes will be shipped to a selection of US-based WPN game stores beginning in late march. Players can collect the plastic booster pack wrappers, which almost all of MTG’s cards use as packaging, and toss them in this Terracycle and Wizards-branded box in lieu of a trash can. Once full, the store will ship it to Terracycle for them to handle. Wizards made it very clear that nothing else should be thrown into the box - cardboard, paper, or other plastics will apparently not be accepted.

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The article does not provide any details on how Terracycle will process the booster pack wrappers, which are deemed non-recyclable by both US and Canadian agencies due to the metals and plastics used in production, except to say that the New Jersey company “explore[s] ways to recycle and collect typically non-recyclable items through national recycling platforms.”

Two possibilities are upcycling the plastic into new products, a practice that can create clothing, jewellery and accessories from discard and non-recyclable materials. Other waste products have historically been transformed into park playgrounds, plastic lumber, benches, garbage bins and more. Dicebreaker has reached out to Wizards of the Coast for more information about how exactly its booster pack wrappers will be repurposed but did not immediately receive a reply.

Wizards of the Coast says the box can hold “thousands of Booster wrappers” and will provide local stores guidance on where best to place the box and how to promote its use by players and customers. There is no current timeline on expanding the initiative to stores outside the WPN or those outside the US.

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This is far from the first time MTG has changed its card packaging in the name of sustainability. Modern Masters 2015 introduced a recyclable cardboard wrapper that players soon reported could be easily resealed by scammers. The alternative packaging also let the cards jostle around during shipment, scuffing their edges and scratching foiled treatments. The cardboard has not made a return since.

Wizards of the Coast has been gradually reducing packaging waste in all its products for several years, especially the Commander deck releases. Competing trading card game Flesh and Blood has introduced a fully paper booster wrapper, but Wizards has yet to dedicate itself to removing plastic from all of its packaging. Given this new agreement with Terracycle, it could be some time before MTG players rip open anything other than silver-lined plastic.

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About the Author
Chase Carter avatar

Chase Carter


Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.