The Collector Highlight section shines a light on the TerraCycle collectors who want to share details of their initiatives, the charity they collect for and share some useful tips for other collectors. George Thomson has been co-ordinating collection efforts across Milton Keynes since 2013 and has to date collected 1,042,460 T-DISCs, 25,974 biscuit, cracker and cake wrappers and 4,346 air and home care products / packaging, raising £13,000 since he began collecting and recycling with us! We had a chat with him and he agreed to answer our questions about his experience as a TerraCycle public location administrator.
When did you start collecting with TerraCycle and which programmes are you involved in?
It all began 5 years ago when someone gifted me a Tassimo machine. I loved the coffee, but was appalled by the amount of waste it produced. An online search introduced me to TerraCycle and I signed up for the Coffee Packaging Brigade (as it was known back then). What started as simply finding a means of recycling T-Discs, soon progressed to a little bin outside for my neighbours to use, then a wheelie bin at the top of the drive (known as Ruby Red locally) and these days a pallet crate which fills weekly. Although over the years I’ve joined the pladis Biscuits and Snacks Recycling Programme and the Air and Home Care Recycling Programme but the Tassimo and L’Or recycling programme remains my most popular stream.
How much waste have you collected so far?
I have collected 17 tonnes and counting. Currently a 150kg Tassimo crate gets filled each week whilst biscuits and homecare waste fills a decent sized box each month. Thank goodness it isn’t necessary to take everything to the Post Office these days!
Which charity are you collecting for? Which project(s) will the money go towards?
Originally I collected for Macmillan Cancer support, raising £7,500. More recently I support Milton Keynes Cat Rescue (£3,500) and Willen Hospice (£2,000). I switched charities because I felt that my Milton Keynes supporters would prefer the results of their efforts spent locally, something that has been very well received.
Any tips that you could share to collect more waste?
Local newspapers are always looking for human interest pieces, but be prepared to do a little work yourself beforehand. Take a happy picture with people in it and put some copy together just as you would like to read it. Don’t be put off if it doesn’t make it into print first time, keep trying from different angles and one day you’ll succeed.
The biggest single element to influence my success is Facebook, so if anyone hasn’t already done so, set up a page. Give it a name that you can anchor your efforts to. I chose Charity Recycling MK and use it to network as much as possible.
Have a go at doing promotional leaflets for shop windows etc. Desktop publishing software can be sourced free or very cheaply and, besides being fun, isn’t difficult to master. I don’t have an artistic bone in my body so if I can knock up posters, anyone can!
Do you have any funny anecdotes to share about your collection?
The first week I put the Ruby Red Bin at the top of my drive, the refuse collector tried to empty it along with my other wheelie bin. Luckily it was chained to the fence, but it didn’t seem to put him off, I thought I was going to lose a fence panel.
Unexpected items in the drop-off crate always raise a smile. I’ve had half eaten pies and pizza, a child’s car seat plus, more recently, a bag full of smelly old shoes. There have been other things, but it’s probably best if I keep them to myself!
City, address and opening times of the public drop off location
The main drop-off hub for Tassimo waste is open 24/7 at 25 Cantle Avenue, Milton Keynes MK14 7RJ. I also have collection boxes in all Willen Hospice Charity Shops throughout the region.
To follow George’s updates and if you are interested in sending wrappers, T-Discs or air and home care waste to him directly (at your own cost), please like his Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/recyclemk/
Do you want your collecting to gain visibility? Would you like to talk about it and share your experience and tips? To be featured in our “Collector Highlight” section, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.