New scheme aims to reclaim hard-to-recycle reusable food containers and bottles

This week, TerraCycle has launched the UK’s first free recycling programme for any brand of reusable food storage containers.

shelves of reusable food containers

In partnership with Sistema, a New Zealand-based reusable container and bottle manufacturer, the waste management company will collect reusable food containers and water bottles to be recycled into raw materials for use in the production of new plastic products.

These plastics are considered hard to recycle due to the high-quality food grade BPA-free materials they are made of, with a limited number of councils offering recycling services for these items, leading them to landfill.

However, these items are now recyclable for anyone wanting to participate in the new scheme. Those choosing to take part will also receive rewards points for each item they recycle, redeemable as monetary donations to fund causes including charities, community initiatives, and schools

Not only can individual households participate, but wider communities are also encouraged to agree upon a public drop-off location, so larger volumes can be sent off together. TerraCycle says this will lead to communities collecting more and raising more money for their chosen good cause.

To start collecting, participants can sign up on TerraCycle’s website to send off their items for free. Members can download free shipping labels to attach to a box of waste to send to TerraCycle via UPS free of charge.

Once collected TerraCycle aggregates the containers at its recycling facility, before a sufficient volume has been collected to send to its processors. There, they are shredded, granulated, washed, dried, and separated into their different materials by elutriation or near infrared spectrography.

The materials are then compounded and pelletised into hard-granulated plastic granules, ready to be used in the production of different plastic products. These recovered pellets are applicable to most high quality manufacturing, though are no longer a food-grade material. 

Julien Tremblin, General Manager for TerraCycle Europe, said: “This is a first-of-its-kind recycling programme for the UK so we’d urge everyone to get involved and start collecting as much as possible, either from home or from the community.

“It couldn’t be easier to collect and send us these items, and it’s a great way to help your home or community go greener.”