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Inside Scoop: McKernan Offers Precycle Program, a Profitable Alternative to Recycling

By Pet Age Staff//January 1, 2024//

Inside Scoop: McKernan Offers Precycle Program, a Profitable Alternative to Recycling

By: Pet Age Staff//January 1, 2024//

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People, in general, want to help the Earth and make life sustainable for generations to come. A 2021 joint survey by the World Economic Forum, SAP and Qualtrics questioned people in different parts of the world about their attitudes to climate change and sustainability. Researchers surveyed more than 11,500 people across 28 countries. The results were comprised of 70 percent general consumers and 30 percent corporate representatives. Among U.S. respondents, the survey found that 94 percent of Americans support recycling and 74 percent say it should be a top priority; however, approximately 35 percent of people recycle.  

There are many ways a company can discard its extra packaging, yet all of them require various levels of effort with little or no investment returned. Certainly, not all methods are created equal.  

Recycling uses valuable energy resources, and tossing unused packaging away is a misuse of our already overflowing landfills. McKernan Packaging Clearing House offers a solution to businesses that requires minimal effort while recovering more of the initial investment. This solution is to buy the company’s surplus packaging. By removing the surplus packaging, businesses can operate in a healthier way moving forward due to opening inventory space and recapturing some of the initial costs. 



Ed McKernan started The E.J. McKernan Co. 65 years ago by representing manufacturers in the aerosol industry. In the first eight years, McKernan saw surplus and overstock bottles, jars, closures, components and equipment go to waste. He created an opportunity to take this excess packaging that was headed for a landfill and decided to purchase the first quality, unused packaging and resell it at a discounted price.  

In 1967, Ed McKernan began the Clearing House division of McKernan Packaging, and he later coined the phrase “precycle,” which means pre-consumer recycling, to explain this business model. Precycling is an environmentally responsible and smart solution to scrapping or traditional recycling. 

McKernan’s Precycleprogram is pre-consumer recycling and helps manufacturers and companies reduce corporate waste by purchasing unused, unbranded overstock packaging components. McKernan then repurposes this packaging making it available to its customers at a discounted price in the company’s Best Value line.  

Precycling has become the politically appropriate means by which major marketers are profitably removing unwanted, obsolete or discontinued surplus packaging out of warehouses without committing environmental neglect and abuse. Precycling provides an efficient alternative to traditional disposal of materials to landfills and also can conserve energy and non-renewable resources. 



Over the years, McKernan Packaging has established an extensive network of packaging suppliers, which includes major players such as Colgate-Palmolive, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Alberto Culver, and Bristol-Myers-Squibb. In turn, McKernan’s Precycling program has helped numerous businesses by giving new life to packaging components that may have been headed to a landfill. Plus, precycling typically pays more than recycling because McKernan accepts packaging that is unbranded and unused, allowing it to be available immediately rather than being recycled into a completely new item. This program offers a way to recoup some of the initial cost, but more than anything, it frees valuable inventory space. 

“It is the best business decision because the other options either cost money or do not recoup as much of the costs,” said Jim Hamilton, purchasing manager for the company. “Throwing it away costs money… to destroy or dispose of the materials fills landfills with trash. Storing it costs money (overhead and restricts space for items that are usable). Recycling might recoup some cost, but McKernan typically pays more than recycling, plus we will also pay to transport the packaging components out of the business’s warehouse. When a company recycles, they would have to pay their own shipping or transportation costs.” 

According to Hamilton, precycling is a pre-consumer process that repurposes the surplus packaging and feeds it back into the industry. Typically, precycling pays more than recycling because the materials that McKernan accepts are unbranded and unused, allowing them to be available immediately rather than being recycled into a completely new item. 

“The packaging is inspected and made available to other businesses who may be looking for a specific item for their product,” Hamilton explained. “For example, by repurposing packaging materials, one company may have changed their bottle size but kept the lids. Now, they have excess bottles that are no longer usable to them. McKernan precycles these bottles and makes them available to a new customer who can match these bottles with other components from McKernan to create packaging for their product. 

“McKernan offers a way to recoup some of the cost, but more than anything, McKernan frees valuable inventory space so that businesses can use the space for current, needed inventory and more profitable materials.”