Virtually all Magic players love cracking packs – Wizards of the Coast has been trying to make them even more appealing in recent years, and they recently explained that they consider the experience of opening boosters to be a core element of MTG Arena’s design even in digital form.
Unfortunately, anybody who’s ever been to an in-person draft event or opened up a booster box has seen the resulting mess: mountains of crinkled-up wrappers that are bound to go straight to the trash. Even besides booster wrappers, Wizards has faced criticism in the past for using excess packaging in some of their products – particularly the Secret Lair drops.
A New Solution
Now, the company is teaming up with a third party to launch a test program that many are viewing as a step in the right direction towards making the game more eco-friendly: booster wrapper recycling.
The program – which will only be offered at the exclusive WPN Premium stores for now – is a partnership with the waste management company TerraCycle, known for their recycling services for more unusual items like coffee pods and ocean plastic.
Here’s how it works: the stores will receive a sizeable cardboard box (Wizards says they can hold “thousands” of wrappers) that they assemble and use as a vessel for players to deposit their empty wrappers. Once the box is filled, it is sealed back up and the store applies a prepaid shipping label to send it back to TerraCycle for processing at no cost to the store.
If the program goes well, we’ll hopefully be seeing these boxes get shipped out to more stores across the US and possibly, eventually, the world. It’s definitely a nice step for Wizards to be taking in a sealed-product industry that’s prone to creating a lot of packaging waste, but some players still think that the company should be doing more.
Not Entirely Unprecedented
While a recycling program for the current wrappers is great for those who can access it, some of Magic’s competitors in the TCG/CCG space are moving towards using wrappers that are made of recyclable materials that can be properly disposed of anywhere, without the additional fuss. The up-and-coming Flesh and Blood TCG is one such example:
A brief YouTube video shows off paper wrappers from Flesh and Blood boosters.
Wizards itself has experimented with more sustainable materials for their packaging – back when the Modern Masters 2015 set was released, the company used a cardboard/paperboard booster packaging that was entirely recyclable. This system had its own issues, however, as cards were too easily damaged and the packaging proved very easy to tamper with and reseal. Some feel that Wizards gave up on the cardboard packaging too early, but there were definitely problems that needed to be solved.
A Modern Masters 2015 pack with cardboard packaging. Source
However, Wizards is clearly at least making some effort to be more sustainable – besides this new booster recycling program, the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty booster bundles are also shipping with their basic land and promo card packs wrapped in a paper that’s similar to what we’re seeing from some of their competitors. Perhaps these waxy paper wrappers will be expanded, although if Wizards is going to push recycling for the current wrappers, that may not be a part of their plans at least in the short-mid term.
In the meantime, if you don’t live near a WPN Premium store and you create enough wrapper waste that you’d like to get in on the recycling program early, you can actually order one of TerraCycle’s trading card packaging boxes now from their website. It works in the same way: you fill the box with wrappers, then send it back with the prepaid return label once it’s filled. They aren’t cheap though – even the smallest of the company’s boxes costs nearly $100 to cover their processing costs.
You can read a bit more about the pilot project over on Wizards’ WPN website where it was first announced. We’re going to hope that everything goes well enough that they decide to roll this system out to local game stores everywhere, so that we can all have access to a more sustainable way of cracking packs and boxes. Until then, MTG Arena remains a packaging-free option for all of us!
Maybe next they’ll help me recycle some of the cards from these massive boxes of draft chaff…