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!

16 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. 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.


  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!!!


  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. 🙂


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