The Beginners Guide to Recycling with TerraCycle

Interested in finding out what we do and how you can participate in our free recycling programmes? You have come to the right place! In this blog article, we provide you with a short but comprehensive guide for beginners outlining how you can recycle with TerraCycle.

What is TerraCycle?

We are a recycling company that specialises in recycling typically hard-to-recycle waste which is not processed by local councils, such as cigarette butts, wrappers and cosmetic product packaging (find out more about us here).

What do TerraCycle do?

We strive to eliminate the idea of waste by offering a range of free national recycling programmes that are funded by brands, as well as recycling solutions, known as Zero Waste Boxes, available for purchase for almost every form of waste! Alongside this, we also offer large-scale recycling for organisations. We reuse, upcycle and recycle the waste instead of incinerating or landfilling it. This moves waste from a linear system to a circular one, allowing it to keep cycling in our economy.

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How do the free recycling programmes work?

The free recycling programmes are funded by brands, manufacturers, and retailers around the world to help you collect and recycle your hard-to-recycle waste. Simply choose the programmes you’d like to join on our website; start collecting in your home, school, or office; then either take the waste to drop-off locations or download free shipping labels to send us your waste in a parcel to be recycled. You can even earn points and redeem them for donations for your school or favourite non-profit when your waste meets the minimum shipment weight requirement!

Who can participate?

Anyone living in the UK can participate in our free recycling programmes by bringing waste to an existing drop off location (these locations can be found on the programme pages that are linked further down the article) but if you want to get the full benefits of recycling with TerraCycle, we encourage you to create an account and sign up for the programme.

To become a collector and get started, please click ‘CREATE AN ACCOUNT‘ on our website to register. Once you have filled out your registration details, you’re ready to join the free recycling programmes!


How do I join a free recycling programme?

You can join the programmes by clicking on the links to the free recycling programmes below and clicking ‘SIGN UP NOW’ when you have signed in to the website. You can choose to be a private or public collector. Public collectors have their collection point location visible on the collection point maps so it allows other members of the general public to drop-off their waste. If you would like to find out how to become a public collector, please click here.


What free recycling programmes do TerraCycle offer in the UK?

You can find the full list of programmes we offer here.

Please be aware some programmes do not currently have spaces for new members. But good news, you can still take part by finding your nearest drop off points via the maps on each programme page to take your waste to (the drop-off point administrator’s charity of choice will benefit from the charity donations).

What do I do with the waste I collect?

Once accepted onto a programme you are able to download free postage labels (linked to your account). Attach it to a parcel or cardboard box (you can find them at stationary stores or post offices) and book a collection with UPS over the phone (03457 877 877) or online to send your waste to us. Members of the general public who do not have an account can drop-off waste at public drop off locations. If you have collected waste for a programme with public drop-off locations only, please click on the interactive map on the programme page to find your nearest collection point and simply drop it off there during the opening hours.

ao2What do I get in return for sending TerraCycle waste?

The more waste we receive, the greater the rewards you earn! For the weight of each piece of waste you send back, provided your shipment meets the minimum requirement, we will credit TerraCycle points to your account, which can be redeemed towards a charitable gift or for a monetary contribution to your favourite charity or school. Each point is equivalent to 1 pence. If the weight is below the minimum, we will still recycle the material but will not award points. Please note if you drop off your waste to a public collection point, the administrator for that location will be awarded the points.

How do the charities get paid?

The sponsorship from brands provides a charity contribution for every item of waste collected in the community. Each participant in one of our collection programmes decides which charity they would like to collect for. TerraCycle makes payments to the chosen charities twice a year – at the end of December and at the end of June. All the contributions collected by all the users for any given charity are pooled into one joint payment.

What happens to the waste if it’s recycled by TerraCycle?

When we recycle the waste we receive, it is cleaned before it is divided and turned into pellets at a processing plant. At this stage, the pellets can then be moulded into new products like watering cans, park benches, table tops and signage. Take a look at this video which takes you through the recycling process here.  You can purchase the products we make here.


Still have questions? Please take a look at our website first. If you would like to speak to a TerraCycle representative, please call us at our free phone number 01465 915018 or send us an email at Don’t forget to follow us on our social media!

41 thoughts on “The Beginners Guide to Recycling with TerraCycle

  1. I love the idea of these schemes but don’t seem to be able to get on many of them .e.g. toothpaste tubes.
    Is this because you can only accept a finite number of people onto the schemes? Or am I missing something?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Brenda, thanks for commenting. There are several reasons and they vary depending on the programme. For example, with The Colgate Oral Care Recycling Programme, spaces are available but it is only open to people who choose to open a public drop-off location in their community (to collect toothbrushes etc). Only after a member of the public submits the public drop-off location application form and they have joined the waiting list, their application will be reviewed and they will be accepted onto the programme. More generally, when we launch a programme it will have a specific number of spaces and this may increase over time (depending on the demand for the programme etc). Ultimately, as you said, it is because we can only accept a finite number of people on to the programmes. Often when programmes are only available to people willing to set up a public drop-off location, is to allow as many members of the public to collect through the drop-off locations managed by one person (rather than just private collectors, collecting only for their household). Please let us know if you have any further questions. Thanks! Louise


    1. Thanks for commenting, wonderful to hear! Please let us know if we can help with anything that isn’t covered in the article.


    2. We are always looking to improve our recycling. As a House Clearance / Rubbish Removal company we do get a lot of rubbish that can be diverted from landfill. Our current method of safe disposal is through the use of materials recovery facilities. Nothing we clear is taken to Landfill but I am interested to learn more about terracycle and how we can work with you to achieve better recycling of more materials. We would even be happy to have the public drop off recycling at our depot.


      1. Hi Lancashire House Clearance, thanks for your interest in our recycling solutions! Please, get in touch with our Customer Support Team at or on 01465 915018, and they will be happy to give you all the information you need to recycle your materials! ♻️


  2. Curious how long I should expect to be on a wait list? Currently I am most in need of using the Energy wrapper Clif program. But I have so many I can’t wait much longer. There are no drop offs in my state.


      1. Hi just want to know where to send my teracycle wrappers in the uk please can you send me the address thank you


      2. Hi Pauline, thanks for asking. Unfortunately, we cannot accept individuals sending in their waste to us directly since we only operate through our public drop-off locations. Individual shipments create a higher than the desired level of environmental outputs which is something we’d like to keep to a minimum. Find your nearest public drop-off location for each programme here:
        If your nearest drop-off point is not convenient, we suggest that you save your waste until you travel to the area for another reason. Alternatively, it may be worth getting in touch with the administrator of the drop-off location to see if there’s a way you can work together to recycle your waste.
        Let me know if you have any other questions. ♻️


  3. Far too complicated. I just want to know where the nearest Terracycle bin to me is. Not interested in having to sign up to some separate recycling scheme, of having to obtain packaging and labels and have to post them!!!


      1. I don’t think this space is for me but an answer from the above comment.

        However, I have been saving Terracycle wrappers for ages and now I want to send/give them to Terracycle I find there is no way I can. As the above I only want to get them sent back to you but can’t find an address – I don’t mind paying postage.

        This is just too hard, disappointing when I am trying in a tiny way to help the waste problem of the world. If I do not hear back with a solution from Terracycle I shall just throw them away and not bother in the future.

        I look forward to hearing from someone!

        Mrs C Jill Tilbury


      2. Hi Carole, thanks for getting in touch.
        Unfortunately, we cannot accept individuals sending in their waste to us directly since we only operate through our public drop-off locations. Individual shipments create a higher than desired level of environmental outputs which is something we’d like to keep to a minimum.
        We kindly encourage you to drop off your waste at an existing public drop-off location. If your nearest public drop-off location is not convenient, we suggest that you save your waste until you travel to the area for another reason or contact the public drop-off location to identify how you could work together.
        Please, contact our Customer Support Team at or call on 01465 915018, and they will be able to help you.


      3. Jill, some Terracycle collectors take items by post. If you look Tadworth Terracycle (Surrey) up on the website and use the email address. I might be able to guide you to a collector or help with a postal address. When emailing let me know your postcode and schemes you want to recycle.


    1. Pauline if you email me on I will try and help you find your closest drop off point. The TC search tool isn’t that easy to use. In the email tell me the schemes you want to drop off and the start of your postcode. Thanks


  4. I live in Boston Lincs, have been saving my Whiskas pouches but there does not seem to be any collection point near me, nearest is 19.2 miles away, the other side of Spalding. Will there be any new collection points that are nearer?


    1. Hello Elizabeth, thank you for your comment. We are looking to strategically widen the public drop-off location network in areas with less coverage. In the meantime, thanks to Nestle Purina’s® charity partnership with Cats Protection, we’ve already opened some new public drop-off locations yesterday at some of their centers and charity shops.
      Please have a look at this new map, which is now updated with all the public drop-off locations:
      I hope this helps.


  5. Your website needs updating, its clunky and not user friendly with the search map. If people could search for a local drop off point and then find out what they recycled it would be much more user friendly. Would also be good to provide links to volunteer drop off points facebook pages as well.


    1. Hello Catherine, thank you for your comment. We try our best to improve our website in order to make recycling with us as easy as possible. Your feedback is very interesting and we are taking good note of it. We have separate maps to avoid confusion and people dropping off the wrong waste. We used to have one but we found it was more problematic than useful, often causing a lot more work for the public drop-off location administrators having to sift through lots of non-accepted waste. We apologize for the inconvenience caused and hope this explanation helps. 🙂


  6. This idea is amazing and it could be a real game changer. However, if an individual wants to fully embrace the scheme and make sure that all of the different types of item can be recycled, it becomes incredibly complicated. I wanted to set up a small scheme in my office to try and encourage my colleagues to think about how much packaging they have been using which goes into landfill. But if I want to do so properly I would spend half my time driving around the South West dropping contact lenses off here, crisp packets here, bread bags are over there, oh now I have pet food packets, I need to go over there – completely unrealistic. The potential of this is going to be tragically wasted unless the system is made convenient and straightforward. I would be more than happy to keep the different types of waste separate and just send them back to you but I can’t even do that because I am not able to sign up to all of the schemes myself as a private user. Why does everything have to be on such a large scale? Don’t you want this to be fully accessible to everyone? I can guarantee you that there is a tragic amount of waste going to landfill that could have been sent to you, purely because of the amount of complexity.


    1. Hi Kate, my apologies for the late reply.
      Thanks for your feedback, it’s very interesting for us and we are taking good note of it.
      Collecting in larger communities who can send larger and fewer shipments by recycling together helps us to make the programme more efficient for local communities across the UK and to reduce the carbon footprint of the recycling programme even further.
      Our long term vision is also to have several brands sponsoring one type of waste stream, rather than several separate programmes. In the meantime, we hope you continue to recycle with us and please be assured we are looking into ways we can improve our programmes.
      I hope this explanation helps.
      Best wishes, Claire


  7. Hello, I am an orthodontist and I would love to be part of the colgate recycling program. I live in Lebanon, and would like to start an initiative concerning recycling toothpaste and toothbrushes.
    Is there a way we can send them to the UK? or would you please send me insights on how to do it in my country?
    thank you any tips would be a great help


    1. Hi Rhea, my apologies for the late reply.
      Unfortunately, we do not operate in Lebanon and we can’t receive waste from other countries. We are not aware of the recycling possibilities in Lebanon, I’m sorry we can’t be of any help.
      Best wishes, Claire


  8. Why are there no pet food pouch drop off locations in anywhere in Shropshire yet other towns/city’s have multiple drop off locations very close to each other. The nearest pet food pouch public drop off location to Shrewsbury is Birmingham or Leominster. Theres a huge gap in the map where shropshire is. The united reform church in Shrewsbury accept crisp packets but not pet food pouches. I want to recycle pet food pouches but i can’t. How do i send them to you. I can’t find a link to download a postage label. What is the address please – i’ll print my own label.


    1. Hi Simon, my apologies for the late reply.
      We’re sorry for the inconvenience caused. As our system is based on volunteering from our collectors, it’s up to them if they want to become a public drop-off collection point. However, this programme is full at the moment and we cannot open more public drop-off collection points in other areas.
      To recycle your pouches, you can get in touch with an existing public drop-off location and send them your pouches (at your own cost), as you cannot have a shipping label if you are not a public drop-off location administrator.
      I hope this explanation helps.
      Best wishes, Claire


  9. recycling is the price we are paying for so called convenience! The more convenient a product is , the more problematic the recycling becomes.


    1. Hi Cathy, thanks for your question.
      We have free recycling programmes for different waste streams, which you can find on this page: For each programme, you’ll have an interactive map displaying the public drop-off locations where you can take your waste.
      I hope this helps.
      Best wishes, Claire


  10. What a rubbish site this is! I just want an address to send the recycling to, but that appears not possible. So I give in and will now dump the recycling in the ordinary bin.
    An hour of my life gone forever, try saving time as well as the planet. If you are the leaders we are all doomed.


    1. Hi Derek, my apologies for the late reply. To recycle through our free recycling programme you have to drop off your waste at an existing public drop-off location. You can find your nearest location on the page of the programme you want to collect for:
      If your nearest public drop-off location is not convenient, we suggest that you save your waste until you travel to the area for another reason or that you contact a collector to identify how you could work together. Unfortunately, we cannot accept individuals sending in their waste to us directly since we only operate through our public drop-off locations.
      I hope this explanation helps.
      Best wishes, Nahia


  11. @Claire
    Have you made any changes to make the filtering of what can I recycle near me or near where I go to work/regular location easier.
    I have tried but I have to look through >5 maps, I have no chance of selling this to others/I’m worried about the extra effort.
    I also have no easy way to check which drop off stations are on my way to work/where I shop so I can just collect say toothbrushes then drop off a large bag when I next do a shop?


    1. Hi Tom, my apologies for the late reply. Our programmes are independent of each other and for the time being, each map shows the locations for the relevant programme. We do hope to have this feature available soon (and it will be available as we introduce more and more Smart Maps into the mix).
      You can sometimes drop off a large bag of waste, but we recommend that you get in touch with the collector from the public drop-off location you would like to visit so you can ask the collector directly if it is possible. You can find the contact details of the collector by clicking on the public drop of location on the interactive map of each programme.
      Hope this helps,


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