South Yorkshire Climate Alliance


Supporting communities across South Yorkshire

to take action for the climate and nature.

Collect Hard-to-recycle plastics

Greener Greenhill put a TerraCycle box in the library for collection of hard-to-recycle plastics:

Many people in Greenhill tell us they’re worried about waste from the amount of plastic we all use, and recycling uses only about 20% of the energy required to create new plastic. There are lots of types of plastic that could be recycled but, in Sheffield, are not collected for recycling.

A company called Terracycle does recycle lots of these ‘hard-to-recycle’ plastics. It works like this:

1) you buy a Zero Waste Box online,
2) fill it up with recycling,
3) send it back when it is full.

Terracycle recycle the plastic into pellets to be used in anything from bottles to children’s play equipment.

What did we do?

We had to decide what to recycle, where we could put the Zero Waste Box, and how to pay for it.

We work in partnership with Greenhill Community Library, so they were more than happy for us to put a box in their foyer. As the library is a public building, it meant the box was accessible to everyone in the community.

We decided to go for ‘oral health products’ – old toothbrushes and empty toothpaste tubes – as they were small enough to carry to the library easily.

The Zero Waste Box cost about £130. When we were thinking about how to pay for it, we wondered if a local business would be prepared to sponsor it. As we would be recycling toothbrushes, we approached a local dentist – GHB Dental – and they were very supportive and agreed to pay for the box.

The next step was to let people know the box was there. We put up a poster in the library and posted about it on our facebook page. We also contacted Greenhill Primary School, and were invited to speak to their pupils at an assembly.

How Did It Go?

We bought the Zero Waste Box in September 2021 and sent the full box off six months later. Greenhill Primary School were very enthusiastic and some of the pupils were so keen to get involved they arranged to collect the recycling at the school and take it over to the library.

Any advice, tips or lessons learnt?

We’ve started another hard-to-recycle plastic collection this autumn (2022) but decided to do it a bit differently! We are collecting both blister/pill packs and empty crisp packets but this time in a rather splendid home-made collection box – see photo! We’re going to empty it weekly and take the collected items to a specialist centre ourselves.

useful links

Order a Zero Waste Box here:
All branches of Superdrug now collect blister packs for recycling. Find out more here.

Find out where and how to recycle all sorts of items near you with the recycling locator tool at Recycle Now.


Tell us your thoughts!
Have you used a Zero Waste Box in your community? Have you tried other ways of recycling hard-to-recycle plastics? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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