Now you can recycle “unrecyclable” packaging waste

recycle packaging

Man, I love a new recycling scheme! Remember how excited I got over the soft-plastic recycling bins at Coles? Well, hold onto your hats! There’s a new scheme in town!!

So you’ve got your empty bottle of cleaning product or hand wash. You unscrew the bottle and put it in the recycling bin, right? But what to do with the pump or trigger? To think this over, you head to the kitchen for a coffee and end up gazing at the empty Nespresso pod in your hand. Non-recyclable, right? In a haze of eco-guilt, you stumble into the bathroom, only to discover your toothpaste and floss are empty and your toothbrush worn through.

STOP! Don’t chuck all those non-recyclable items into the bin! Send them to TerraCycle to be upcycled or recycled into new products!!

TerraCycle, the international company behind the world’s first cigarette-butt recycling scheme, is now operating in Australia: and they want your waste.

The collections are organised into “Bridages”:

  • The Oral Care Brigade: collect toothrushes, toothpaste tubes and caps, floss containers, toothpaste and toothbrush outer packaging.
  • The Cleaner Packaging Brigade: collect handwash/bodywash pumps, laundry liquid taps, cleaning product triggers, perfume pumps, beauty product tubes, facial wipes/baby wipes packaging, the plastic around dishwasher tabs.
  • The Nespresso Brigade: collect Nespresso (only) coffee pods.

Recycle for cash to your charity

I love this scheme and have, of course, already signed up to be a collection point. But I know a lot of people will say “hmmm, that’s nice, can’t be bothered.” This is where the genius of TerraCycle founder Tom Szaky comes in – to sweeten the deal (because saving the planet isn’t good enough for some people, ahem), you can claim points for the items you collect and send back to TerraCycle (postage is free). One item equals one point equals two cent to go to your selected school or charity.

Take that, mothers! How could you not sign up?

The funding for the donation comes from sponsors like Nature’s Organics, Colgate and Nespress, which means the companies making the non-recyclable waste are paying for it. Brilliant, hey?

Here’s how it works

  1. Read all about it here.
  2. Sign up for whichever brigades you want.
  3. Get a bucket, box or bag.
  4. Tell everyone you know you’re collecting these items.
  5. Download a free-postage label.
  6. Recycle a cardboard box and send all your collected items to TerraCycle.
  7. Your points will be tallied and added to your account.
  8. Donate your hard-earned money to your kids’ school and live a long and happy life.

TerraCycle products

In case you’re wondering, here’s what TerraCycle makes with all the bits of “unrecyclable” plastic we collect: plan pots, cute watering pots, park benches, bags and plastic containers. When those products have reached their end of life, they can be returned to TerraCycle to be recycled into something else. Check out the TerraCycle shop to see the full range of products. This short video about the Drink Pouches Brigade in the US gives a great insight into the company and how it operates.

 Will you collect those “unrecyclables” with me? Please….!


  1. Gillian says

    Brilliant, with you all the way on this one Jo. Not being able to recycle those cleaning product triggers has been driving me mad for ages. In fact I already have a small collection I haven’t been able to bring myself to throw in the bin (in case I can re-use one for something or if another becomes faulty!). I know, I know, what was I thinking how could I need to keep at least 5 spare triggers just in case, but now I know it was because really I was waiting for a scheme like this. Consider me a recruit :)

    • (dt)em says

      Lol, I have one or two (or twenty) bits that I have hung onto “just in case”. But now there’s somewhere for them to go, hurrah!

    • (dt)em says

      Yay for you, Bek. That must be a huge collection, we empty ours monthly and it’s pretty epic. Which means I should just try really hard to use less plastic in the first place, right? x


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