Why did en-form set up a Terracycle collection point?
We have collected a number of items for recycling or reuse in the past, including corks, mobile phones, printer cartridges and CD’s.
We have been a bit cautious as it has on occassions mean’t that we have been left with a lot of waste that we have had to pay to dispose off.
However in October 2018 we received a number of requests from our supporters asking it we could collect toothpaste tubes under the Terracycle scheme. After investigating the scheme we decided that it would not take too much effort, it would not cost us anything and these items could not be recycled through the local council plastic kerbside collection. We were unable to find out if collecting and recycling these items had less of an environmental impact
than throwing in general waste.
On the basis that we would prefer plastic waste to be recycled rather than sitting in landfill sites and potentially getting into rivers and seas and ultimately the animals that live there.
It was a very slow start but gradually built up and proved very popular with visitors and
we extended the range of items we recycle.
What items can I recycle through Terracycle?
The items you can recycle changes frequently. Check out the Terracycle website.
Also take a look at our local Recycling Directory which lists other items that can be
What happens to the items we collect for recycling?
We understand that all the items we collect under the Terracycle scheme are low grade plastic and/or are difficult to recycle. The recycling options for these materials are limited and
it depends on the type of material. They are currently made into hard composite plastic items such as bins, buckets, plastic benches, compost bins etc. For more information look at this video and the three at the bottom of this page.
Does recycling these items raise money for good causes?
Yes. It does raise a small amount of money depending on the scheme. With the volumes of items such as crisp packets available quite reasonable amounts of money are raised by some collectors. However there are costs. In our case sellotape, printing, gloves and waste disposal costs.
The biggest cost however is time spent sorting, Although we are lucky to have volunteer sorters (currently 9) who take care of that. In our case we spend a minimum of 15 volunteer hours a week sorting and packaging the waste.
The other big cost is the amount of space taken up to run the project. The project takes up half of our downstairs office which equates to about £2500 based on our costs. Of course we don’t charge this to the project but it does mean we can’t use that space for other purposes.
In 2019 our figures were as follows:
Money raised from Terracycle £379
Less Sellotape £8
So we raised £335
If we were to charge our other costs to the project they would be:
Waste disposal £140
Staff costs £6000
Luckily we don’t have to charge these figures to the project otherwise we would have made a loss of £8305 and we used the £335 to help pay our core charity costs which tend to be about £12,000 per year. A useful contribution equivalent to half our insurance costs.
What is the environmental impact of operating these recycling schemes?
As stated above we do not have all the information from the recycling process to know what the environmental impact is of the recycling process compared with disposing of in general waste. As with all recycling there is an environmental impact particularly from water, transport and energy.
We at en-form try to reduce the environmental impact by only collecting items not collected by our local council at the kerbside. And we encourage visitors to only bring items into the office when they are in Town anyway. We discourage people making a special journey by car just to drop off recycling as this is likely to have a worse envitronmental impact than disposing off in general waste.
Our view is that the environmental impact is no more than recycling other plastics, a useful product is made and the material is not sitting in landfill or worse still littering the countryside, the rivers or seas or killing wildlife.
Is it worthwhile for en-form?
In financial terms probably not. There are easier ways to raise cash for the effort involved.
However, we are an environment charity and so it is not just about money.
We have recruited a number of new volunteers, we receive more visitors to the centre who have questions to ask which gives us the opportunity to provide environmental information. The number of people following our Facebook page and Eco Colchester Facebook Group has also increased by over 1000 and 2000 respectively in 12 months. We have recycled 275kg of waste in 2019. Not a lot but every little helps and of course we did raise a much needed £335.
Why don’t the council collect these items for recycling?
As stated above, these are not easy materials to recycle and there is no viable market for these items from the recycling companies. They are recycleable through Terracycle because the items are sorted and collected by a huge army of volunteers throughout the country. The recycling is paid for by the manufacturers. And all the items sent off for recycling are clean
and uncontaminated. As you can see from en-forms own figures this would not be cost effective or viable for local councils.