Recycling Woes --Has Anyone Been Successful?

On Tuesday, December 15, I took my first bag of Pods to be recycled to the FedEx Express office, and to my surprise the woman behind the counter said, “Thank you” as she took the bag. With that, I returned home.

Some of you may remember that a while back I spent considerable time on the phone with Insulet questioning the discrepancy between the FedEx bag instructions and the Insulet instructions for shipping Pods in for recycling. Insulet finally called me back and assured me they had “worked out a deal” with FedEx. Thus, (skeptic that I sometimes am), I was delighted when FedEx actually accepted my bag of biohazard Pods with no questions.

Unfortunately, on Wednesday, December 16, I received a call from FedEx Ground telling me that I would have to drive across town to pick up my biohazard bag because they could not ship it, and they could not even truck it across town to the FedEx Express office where I dropped it off. The problem? Insulet sent me a FedEx Ground label, but only FedEx Express (an entirely different company) can ship biohazard waste.

To make a long story short, two calls to FedEx and two calls to Insulet later, these are the results: FedEx says that I need a new FedEx Express label to send in the Pods, and Insulet is willing to send out those new Express labels to me. No problem… except a woman from FedEx Ground told me that FedEx Express STILL probably will not accept the shipment because the first thing they will check for is a biohazard shipping contract with Insulet, and it appears that Insulet has no such contract with FedEx Express. Apparently, the contract for shipping biohazard waste is very expensive, and the woman who checked said that Insulet has no such agreement with FedEx Express.

When I told all of this to Insulet a few moments ago, they assured me that hundreds of others have successfully mailed the Pods in for recycling with no problems, but some did need to have the new Express rather than Ground labels.

One other person even suggested that I just put the Pods in a box so FedEx does not know what I am shipping, but that goes against both my ethical and environmental sensibilities.

My question is this: have any of you successfully recycled a bag or two of the red biohazard bags filled with used Pods using FedEx Express? Did you have to have the FedEx Express labels? Has anyone else had their shipment denied because Insulet does not have a biohazard shipping agreement with FedEx Express?

I really want to do the right thing, so I was very pleased that I would not have to add the plastic (which does not biodegrade) and the batteries to my local landfill, but I am frustrated that what I suspected might be a hassle has, indeed, become true. I want to be “green,” and I am willing to go out of my way to drop off the Pods at FedEx, but I only want to do it ONCE with no hassle. What has your experience with recycling the Pods been? What is the secret for sending in the Pods successfully?

I dropped my shipment off in an unmanned dropbox and never heard anything about it. How did they have your phone number associated with the shipment anyway?
I really don’t see how putting it in a box would violate any ethical or environmental sensibilities; do you really think used pods are actually a biohazard? I sure don’t, I think it’s just an artifact of the bureaucracy that they would be classified that way, an excessively cautious policy because someone thinks there is some tiny chance of “something bad” being in or on a used pod. That’s just my opinion, of course.

I think technically the needle that is still contained in the used pod is a biohazard. With that said I remember during my training the trainer specifically told me that I didn’t need to worry about disposal of the pod’s because they weren’t biohazards so I could just throw them out. That does seem contradictory…

This was my experience too. I dropped off the bag last week at an unmanned box and haven’t heard anything, although I’ve kind of been holding my breath - I was wondering what they would do if they couldn’t ship it. My address is on it, but not my phone number right?

Hmm… I dropped my bag off at a postal center that takes FedEx and had no problem. They do have my information, but it has been a few weeks and I haven’t heard that anything was wrong with it. I still have my tracking number. I’ll check to see if it made it to its destination and get back to you.

Technically, even though I have never been diagnosed with any kind of communicable disease, the needle and cannula have pierced my skin, so that makes it a biohazard. I agree with you, though, Eric, that most of this is just an over-reaction to a flexible, plastic tube that does not have the ability to pierce anything else anyway. My concern is more the disposing of the batteries than it is with disposing of the plastic Pods and cannulas.

Update, folks. I had to drive about 15 miles to pick up the rejected disposal package from FedEx Ground. My husband and I then took a trip out to the FedEx Express office that accepted the package to begin with (even though it had a red Ground label). The lady there said that they would accept and ship the biohazard bag of Pods if it had the correct FedEx Express label – which I believe is white.

I called Insulet and they are shipping me the correct labels which I should receive in 3 - 5 business days. So the lesson to learn from this whole thing is that if you have a red FedEx Ground label, you may get a hassle… at least in Wisconsin! If you have and use the white FedEx Express label, you should be OK.

My real question is, why if the package has a red label it is hazardous and their people cannot handle it, but if it has a white label, it is OK for people to handle and ship. Am I missing something here?

Natasha, if your address and last name are on the return label, they can look you up in the phone book or call directory assistance to get your phone number. That is how FedEx Ground must have gotten my number because I have a very common last name, and I am listed in the phone book only under my husband’s name.

Further update… yesterday (December 29), I finally got the “labels” from OmniPod. Actually, they sent me a big cardboard box and told me to put both of my biohazard bags into the one box and attach the one label I found in the box. Nice… except that I only have one bag full of used Pods, and it will probably take me another three months to get the second bag full. (So much for planning ahead!) I didn’t NEED a box; I just asked for two labels–one for my current full bag and one for the bag I would ship three months from now.

I teach communication, and I really think that the folks at OmniPod need a few lessons on listening because each time I request something, they somehow never quite get it right. I will hang on to the Pods and the box for another three months and try this again. Since the biohazard bags will now be snugly nestled in a cardboard box, I foresee no problems unless there is not enough postage on this new, white label.

I will be very interested to see if I get a correct, white label with my next shipment of Pods.

I just received my second pod shipment since the recycle program started, and there was no recycle bag or label this time. Argh - guess I’ll have to call and request it.
Has anyone else actually received a second recycling “kit” without having to ask for it?

Nope. I had to call Insulet to get my second recycling bag and label and then, as noted above, they still sent the wrong, red FedEx Ground label. Also, don’t believe their “3-5 working days” routine. It will take about two weeks to actually get the goods. Did they deliver? Yes, but not in the time they said they would… and I live in a fairly large city with a good post office.

I’ve been sitting around waiting for my second recycling kit. I was originally told they just send a new one when you send one in. Good to know!

Actually, they are supposed to have your recycle registration hooked up to the automatic Pod shipments. That is, each time you get a new set of Pods, you also should get a recycling kit with it. My understanding is that the new recycling kits are not tied to when you ship the old Pods in, but rather when you get your three-month supply. The recycled Pods go to a totally different place, so I doubt that Insulet even tracks who is sending in Pods to the Recycling Center.

If you have been waiting, I would wait until tomorrow and then call and talk to one of their Recycling folks. When I got my second shipment of supplies (without the recycling kit), I called customer service. The Rep passed me over to the Recycling Department and when I explained that I was already signed up for the program, the man looked on his computer and said, “You’re right!” (Duh!!!) “We should have sent out a new recycling kit with your order. We’ll send one out today, and there will be NO CHARGE.” I replied, “You are dang right that there will be no charge since I get an extra $8.00 tacked on to my automatic order each time to pay for the new kit.” That is when he told me the “3 - 5 business days” which actually took about two weeks.

Call, Melissa. If you are waiting for a new kit, you could be waiting an awfully long time… especially if you are in the middle of a Pod shipment order. Good luck!

Rebecca -

You are spot on here. The pod is a boihazard whether the needle is sticking out or back inside as it most likely always is. Anything with a needle that has been inserted is a biohazard for obvious reasons. That is why you see the occasional newspaper story about someone with diabetes who’s trash was ripped open and used syringes or syringe (needle) tips were in the trash. HIGH ANXIETY, low knowledge newspaper articles.
Even though the pods have batteries and circuit boards it would only make sense that the “insertion needle” makes it a biohazard first and foremost when it comes to waste disposal.

Once again, I think Insulit needs to get better trained people to answer the phone! Maybe they are getting “too big” and need to stay a small company!