Recycling

What is TerraCycle?

09 APR 20 | 3 minute read

Recycling everything you can through your household recycling collection but still left with some items that are more difficult to recycle?

It can be frustrating when, like us, you’re pushing on to be more zero waste.

For many of us, recycling has become part of our everyday routine. You sort, flatten, rinse and squash the items that are collected and recycled by your local council but have no idea what to do with those items not collected through kerbside recycling.

Introducing Terracycle

TerraCycle is a company that specialises in hard-to-recycle waste like bread bags and food pouches. Brands partner and fund recycling programmes with TerraCycle to provide customers (that’s you) with a free recycling programme.

Some of the big brands getting involved include Ella’s Kitchen, recycling baby food pouches, and Walkers’ crisp packet recycling programme which allows you to recycle any brand of crisp packets.

TerraCycle is a company that specialises in hard-to-recycle waste like bread bags and food pouches.

Upsides of Terracycle

  • It’s free to use - the brands fund the recycling programmes alongside TerraCycle
  • More items can be recycled, valuing the resources, energy and workforce that went into making them
  • It diverts waste from landfills and incinerators
  • It’s easy to do – visit the TerraCycle website to see what's available and find your nearest drop off location. Sometimes, you can post directly free of charge
  • If there isn’t a nearby drop off point, think about starting a collection point from your home, school or office
  • If you become a member/collection point you get points every time TerraCycle receives a collection from you. Points can then be changed into a financial donation to charity or school of your choice

Downsides

  • At the moment, collection points have been confirmed on a first come first served basis so the availability and accessibility of collection points across Scotland varies greatly
  • Although recycling is great, reducing consumption is even better and remains a priority because when we buy new things we’re contributing to the demand for the finite materials needed to make them in the first place

What can you recycle?

TerraCycle’s free recycling programmes currently includes (this list may change, check the website for the most up to date information):

  • Baby food pouches
  • Biscuit, cracker and cake wrappers
  • Cigarette waste (including extinguished cigarettes, rolling paper and ash)
  • Cleaning product packaging (including plastic bottle caps and air fresheners)
  • Coffee pods
  • Contact lenses (including soft lenses and plastic/foil from blister packs)
  • Crisp packets
  • Oral care (including toothbrush packaging, toothpaste tubes and electric toothbrush heads)
  • Personal care packaging (including packaging for face wipes and roll-on deodorants)
  • Pet food pouches/bags
  • Writing instruments (including pens, highlighters and correction-fluid pots)

Although recycling is great, reducing consumption is even better because when we buy new things we’re contributing to the demand for the finite materials needed to make them in the first place.

What are these items recycled into?

Each individual item varies but generally, once items are collected, they are washed, shredded and turned into plastic pellets. The pellets can then be used to make moulded rigid plastic products also known as ‘hard plastic’ to make new products such as a bench or watering can.

Why can’t these items just be recycled through my kerbside collection?

Local authorities just don’t have the means to collect everything. By collecting specific waste streams like paper, card, metal, cans and plastic pots, tubs and trays this increases the likelihood of these items being recycled into new products.

Collecting a wider range of materials increases the risk of materials being contaminated and rejected by reprocessors or being shipped abroad where we have no control over what happens to the materials.

At Zero Waste Scotland we work with all 32 local authorities across Scotland to help implement the Household Recycling Charter which aims to help get recycling consistent across Scotland.

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