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!

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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.

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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.

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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 customersupport@terracycle.co.uk. Don’t forget to follow us on our social media!

26 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?

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    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

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

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  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.

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  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!!!

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  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?

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    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: http://bit.ly/36OHX6F.
      I hope this helps.

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  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.

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    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. 🙂

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  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.

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    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

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  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

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    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

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  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.

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    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

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