Terra Cycle Zero Waste Boxes

Hello all -I’m curious if any of you folks in the UK have used this service and how you found it. It’s a fairly simple concept – you buy a waste box from Terra Cycle that covers the costs of the recycling the and return of the full box for them to recycle.

They have different recycling streams and consequently different prices depending on the complexity of the recycling. Their Plastic Packaging box claims they can recycle ANY flexible plastic packaging including traditionally difficult to recycle multi-layer and laminated bags such as the Huel bags as well as shipping material such as bubble wrap, packing peanuts, airbags, shrink wrap, cushioning pallet liners and covers.

You basically buy 1 of 3 sizes of box ranging from 46 to 100cm tall. You basically have to ensure you comply with the recycling stream so do not contaminate it with food content and liquid waste, plant-based or biodegradable plastics (i.e. PLA), non-plastic waste: paper, metals, cardboard, glass etc. when its full, you attach the prepaid UPS shipment return label and arrange collection.

To me this sounds a great service, but I wonder how well it goes down given that the cost is quite high and traditional research has shown that the vast majority of consumers do not see recycling as their responsibility at all (which probably explains why things such as ocean plastic are a thing). I would imagine the large 100cm high box could take a lot of empty, flattened or cut up Huel bags so the unit cost of recycling each item probably is much easier to swallow than the initial cost of the box.

Never heard of this before. Interesting concept.

My first thought on this was why would people buy this over recycling schemes that already exists? I guess what you’d be buying is the ease of recycling, the ability to recycle everything and educate yourself on recycling??

I’m not so sure about paying £150 to £415 for the ‘All-in’one’ Zero waste solution. For the average person this is pretty darn expensive.

I think there’d have to be something impactful on the website itself showing the effects in not recycling for people to catch on this? Are there other schemes out there that take part of each recycling element? For example, when I was a Barista there was a company that collected all of the coffee ground waste and re-purposed it for face and body scrubs.

I can’t really say much more than that in all fairness. I think the key to all of this is education. Which is very difficult to do. Getting people to take responsibility of there own learning and also ensuring that practical, relatable and understandable recycling solutions are in place for people to make use of. I guess this scheme you’re talking about is trying to solve this ?

I think it is particularly useful for items where recycling schemes don’t exist either nationally or locally for hard to recycle items like MLP’s (huel bags), coffee pods etc. Personally I don’t see the benefit of the all in one option but for particular types of difficult packaging disposal I can see the benefit here.

I just looked at the coffee pod option: :astonished:

I recently found that Tassimo finally offer a recycling scheme. The bags are free, shipping is £2.99 if not meeting the free delivery spend threshold. They obviously fit fewer than the smallest Terracycle box, but it’s also not costing me over £100, so I can cope with that. The Terracycle one must be aimed more at hotels etc. As much as I try to recycle, my disposable income isn’t going to happily cater for the cost of a zero-waste box.

yup I think these only make sense if you are committed to recycling your waste but do not have access to other local government or brand run schemes for non standard packaging. even their smallest plastics box I guess could take a couple of hundred Huel bags if they are cut up, so you’d have to be a big (or patient) Huel user :slight_smile:

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Patience (and space) is key if not a huge user!

I collected a bunch of empty cosmetics, and just as I decided I really needed top drop them, the first lockdown happened. Over the next few months I waited, but when stores re-opened only Kiehl’s were still taking empties for recycling. I needed to clear space and ended up throwing the other brand ones away. It’s only last month that JL etc have started taking them again. I did keep my empty contact lens blisters though (I’d been putting them in a box and they’re so much easier to store than random shaped cosmetics) so will try to drop those off asap!

Yeah for things that you can’t recycle easily this seems like a good option. Still a bummer with how expensive it is though. I think if people educated themselves, then they could recycle anything that they use on a regular basis, which is both practical and makes sense for the individual.

For example, I recently repurposed glass jam jars for my own jams. Very simple and effective mini-recycling-ecosystem. It’s just a case that more people need to be aware of these solutions and enjoy getting creative and not buying more. Another aspect, is ensuring people do there research and find out about local businesses that are already recycling the things that the local can’t! Though this is so difficult to enforce nationally. It’s too easy to just go to the tip or throw it away.

Where does Terra take the recycling? I assume they’d have their own recycling plant?

I guess it depends on how much you recycle Harry - lets say you were a big Huel fan or co-op of several Huel users in the same town, a small box would conservatively take a good 200+ waste bags so the end to end recycling cost of transport, sorting and recycling would be at most 65p/bag - so about 3% of the original purchase price.

according to their site they have recycling facilities in 20 countries. I guess if one country does not have the specific plant needed for a material they are sent to one that does.

Now when you put it like that it seems waaaaaay better!! The more I look into it the more it seems familiar to me. Must have seen it before.

The plastic packaging looks good and likely the one people would use the most. I can’t seem to find any information on how 1 unit of waste is measured? For example, the small plastic option allows 702 units per box.

The only thing that bothers me still is that you have to buy a new box every time you’ve finished with it. I guess if you’re cutting up your Huel bags as small as possible then you can maximise of the usage.

Do you use this recycling system Phil?

No, they don’t operate here so was just curious if anyone had any experience of them and how the concept worked out in reality. Or indeed if anyone had used their free, brand sponsored return or drop off schemes. The countries they appear to work in are:

Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the USA.

I see! I’m intrigued. It would be good to hear from somebody who uses it and what their experiences have been.

I’m sure somebody on here knows someone that uses it, or that they do themselves. Thanks for posting about this it’s been informative :slight_smile:

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I mean that’s more like reusing than recycling to be fair!



Repurposing is when you adapt something for use in a different purpose than it was originally designed for. Kudos for reusing them for new jam, but they are still being used as jam jars.

@GTIPuG Fair points! :ok_hand:t2:

You made some good points there Phil :wink:

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may be worth checking you local co-op ours have a reclining bin for scrunchy plastics