Back before lockdown, when I was still working in an office on a regular basis, I was really pleased to discover one day that a crisp packet recycling collection box had appeared in the office kitchen (that’s chip packet to those who speak American English!). I started happily collecting packets from home and bringing them in to recycle, happy that it was one less thing going to landfill. A mere few weeks or so later, the pandemic hit and with that my crisp packet recycling dream was over.
Every time I throw something in the general waste, I experience a niggling guilt that I shouldn’t be doing it, despite recycling everything my local authority will take (sadly they don’t een collect food waste in my area, but that’s a conversation for another day!). I’m doing what I can to minimise waste by refilling containers at my local zero waste store, choosing lower-packaging options where possibe ans buying almost only loose produce, but it still doesn’t feel like enough. My curiosity was therefore peaked when I got my hands on a hand soap refill package that read in bright green ‘NEW: recycle me with Terracycle’.
Terracycle, that name rang a bell: it was the company we’d been sending our crisp packets to from the office all those months ago! But how did this service work and how could I make use of it now the office collection was no longer an option? I headed to the Terracycle website to look for answers and was blown away by what I found…
Terracycle runs a huge number of programmes to recycle all sorts of items that won’t be recycled by local councils or other mainstream waste management facilities. Crisp packets and soap packaging aside, there are also programme for cheese wrappers, snack & confectionary packaging, toothbrushes & dental care packaging, games & toys, disinfectant wipes and Marigold gloves… the list goes on! Businesses can also purchase Zero Waste Boxes to recycle packing from items such as arts supplies, baby gear, beauty products, casste & VHS tapes, used gum (!)… again, the list goes on, and importantly in the current era, include disposable PPE items.
The public recycling schemes are free to use, and work on a clever community-based model. Individuals set up drop-off locations by finding a public place to place the collection box, getting permission to do so and signing up with Terracycle do getthings going. Terracycle provide all the gear and the individual ships the waste to Terracycle to do their thing once a suitable quantity has been collected. One everyone has a collection point within a 5-mile radius the scheme is full; otherwise you can set up your own scheme and get collecting. What’s more, partners who have set up a collection earn rewards for waste they return, which can be redeemed as donations to a charity of their choice. Genius!
I’m excited to find that there are collection points nearby for some of my more frequently used items, such as crisp packets, dental care and laundry packaging. Even more so that there could be an opportunity for me to set up a new collection point for other items that aren’t yet accounted for in my local area! I’m going to get the lowdown on what it entails to set up a scheme, but it feels like it could bethe perfect way to do a little bit of good in my community without taking on too much burden. Win-win!
Oh, and Terracycle is operating in over 20 countries worldwide, so it’s not only people in the UK who can benefit! Check out their website to find out more about the programmes, locate your nearby collection points, purchase Zero Waste boxes or set up a scheme. Happy Terracycling!