I Didn’t Know You Could Recycle That!

We are very fortunate that our local council collects paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and tubs, tins and cans, textiles and glass from our kerbside. Hopefully you take full advantage of kerbside collections where you live, although what is collected differs greatly from council to council. But what about everyday items that aren’t currently collected?

Ideally, we should all follow the mantra Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: if something isn’t recyclable (single use plastic film, for example), we simply shouldn’t buy it or if we have to buy it, we should repurpose it. This isn’t always possible however. So here are a few fairly common things which can be recycled in different ways:

Stretchy Plastic

Did you know that stretchy plastic products can be recycled with carrier bags at larger supermarkets? I’m talking things like bread bags, cereal packet liners, frozen food packets, plastic wrap around multipacks of tins, even bubble wrap. As a general rule, if the plastic will stretch, it can be recycled. In the last year or so, supermarkets and manufacturers have got a lot better at labelling products, so keep an eye out for “Recycle with carrier bags at larger stores” on packaging.


If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a drawer full of pens, half of which no longer work. Well, clean out that drawer and recycle your used pens at any Ryman stationery store or via TerraCycle Writing Instruments Recycling Programme. Find you nearest drop off point here.

Crisp Packets

We all love crisps in our family and we get through a lot of packets. Although not widely recyclable, crisp packets and multipack packaging (any brand) can be recycled through TerraCycle or in Wiltshire, via drop off points in aid of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

Alternatively, crisp packets can be ironed together to make Bivi bags for homeless people. Check out the Crisp Packet Project for further info.

Spectacles & Contact Lenses

For years you could recycle spectacles at opticians through a scheme run by the charity Vision Aid. However, this scheme is no longer economically viable because spectacles now tend to be made from plastic rather than metal. You can still recycle your specs through the Lions Club or companies such as Peep Eyewear. Peep Eyewear not only repair, reuse and refurbish vintage specs, for every recycled pair sold, the company plant a tree.

For contact lens wearers, you can recycle your lenses and packaging through the Acuvue Contact Lens Recycle Programme run by TerraCycle. My local branch of Boots Opticians has a collection box and your local drop off points can be found here.

Toothbrushes and Dental Packaging

You can now recycle any brand of toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, interdental brushes and packaging through the Colgate Oral Care Recycling Programme, another scheme run by TerraCycle. There are over 700 drop off locations across the UK, including local dentist surgeries. Visit the TerraCycle website to find your nearest location or ask your dentist if they can set up a collection point.

Medicine Packets

TerraCycle has also recently launched its Medicine Blister Packets Recycling Programme where you can recycle any brand of medicine blister packet at participating pharmacies (including some Superdrug Pharmacies). As this is a relatively new scheme, there are only 60 drop off points so far. If there isn’t a location near you, why not contact your local pharmacy to see if they would be interested in setting up a public drop off point?


Wyatt and Jack are a brand from the Isle of Wight who make bags and accessories out of discarded inflatables, windbreaks and old trampolines. In 2018 Wyatt and Jack launched an Inflatable Amnesty, through which you can send used inflatables to them to be made into bags. More information, and lots of colourful bags, can be found here.

Hopefully you’ll have found this information useful and it’ll have got you thinking about trying to recycle things you would usually throw away. To make it easier for yourself, I’d suggest setting aside an area in your home (a box, drawer or cupboard) where you can keep your items for recycling until you’re next in the area of your local drop off point. I’d also recommend taking a look at the TerraCycle website to see what other things can be recycled, such a coffee pods, makeup and pet food pouches  (new schemes are being launched all the time). TerraCycle is a great idea but I personally find the website quite hard to navigate, however, if you persevere you should be able to find schemes in your area. Have fun and enjoy the challenge of reducing your waste!

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