Where To Recycle Items in The UK

When it comes to reducing our household waste, a lot of the responsibility falls to us the consumer. Yes, the companies label their products – some clearer than others – but this can often lead to overwhelm, confusion, different instructions for different materials on one piece of packaging and reluctance to try due to lack of time. I know, I am one of those people too. Recycling has its place (we need this waste to go somewhere) but it most definitely isn’t my favourite part of trying to live more eco-friendly.

Aside from the complicated systems, our council doesn’t even recycle very much kerbside which has left me baffled when I look at other areas -parts of Dorset and Devon for example – who recycle so much that it makes life far easier for the consumer. With recycling being so tricky in some parts of the UK I completely understand why this service isn’t used to the max and why too much of our waste ends up in landfill. If we had the information, clear instructions, easier to recycle packaging or kerbside services then we could all be making a bigger difference.

Due to this I challenged myself to see what recycling services I could find in my local high street/shopping centre and I can tell you now, it wasn’t always easy. Bins not on shop floors, hidden recycle bins, bins placed behind stacks of baskets, no signage to direct or inform you, no information in shop windows… You get the gist, recycling is not being made easy. So, to help you out I thought I would compile a list and links for where to recycle items in the UK.

Where To Recycle

Kerbside

Carefully check what your local authority takes from your kerb by checking online. You may find some changes have been recently made or that some items are not suitable. It is important you get this right because hoping that they will recycle things you have thrown in there is never going to get it recycled if they don’t accept it. They will simply take it off the line and throw it in the bin.

You can check HERE

Recycling Banks

All towns/cities will have recycling banks around the area usually located near to schools, supermarkets, parks and car parks making them as accessible as possible. What you will have to determine is where your nearest one is and what it will take. Most offer electrical recycling, clothing, bottles (different coloured glass), foil, soft plastics. Recycle Now is a great website for checking what is available in your area.

You can check HERE

Supermarkets

As well as having these recycling points outside, supermarkets also offer recycling services inside their stores. Most now offer recycling for:

  • Brita water filters
  • Some soft plastics
  • Batteries
  • Plastic bags
  • Printer cartridges

Check in your local store to see what they are providing for you.

  • Sainsbury’s and Co-op plus selected Tesco stores are now offering a fantastic soft plastics recycling scheme which includes everyday items such as plastic bags, bread bags, frozen food bags, cat food pouches etc.

You can check Sainsbury’s full list of 500 participating stores HERE

Find out more about the co-op 1500 stores that offer this recycling HERE

Sainbury’s list:

sainsbury's list of recyclables

Terracycle

Terracycle is a huge recycling scheme designed to help consumers recycle what they use and massively reducing what goes into their household waste. You can use their website to see who is a collector in your area, you then drop your recycling off to them and they send it off. Here you can recycle items such as crisp packets, pet food pouches, toothpaste tubes, soft plastics, pringles tubes etc.

Find out more HERE

Reworked

Reworked is another recycling scheme and they have teamed up with Boots to offer recycling for a large range of bottle, containers, packaging and so on. The consumer can bring in their used items and gain points for doing so.

Find out more HERE

Reworked also launched a Reclaim The Mask scheme with Wilkinson stores which provide recycle bins for your disposable masks.

Find out more HERE

Opticians

If you wear glasses or contact lenses and don’t want to put old ones into the bin, check with your optician because most offer a recycling scheme within store. When out researching I saw Boots had a contact lens recycling point by their opticians.

the contact lens recycling box found in Boots

BodyShop Products

You can return your Bodyshop products to store (clean) and they will recycle or repurpose them.

Find out more HERE

Lush Products

You can return your black pots, containers and pumps to Lush for them to recycle.

Find out more HERE

Makeup

Putting old makeup cases into the bin seems wrong, doesn’t it? The great news is that you can now recycle these within both Superdrug, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Boots stores, the only problem is, you may not be able to clearly see the bin. My advice would be to ask the staff to direct you to it because the ones I saw at the time of writing this had Maybelline all over them making them look like makeup points of sale.

Find out more HERE

Blister Packs

Superdrug has teamed up with brands Buscopan, Dulcolax and TerraCycle UK to include collection boxes in every Superdrug Pharmacy, for you to recycle your empty medicine blister packets. For every blister packet collected, TerraCycle® will donate points to Superdrug pharmacies to be redeemed into financial donations towards Marie Curie.

Find out more HERE

Foil Balloons

Terracycle has teamed up with The Card Factory and provided them with boxes within 500 of their stores to offer recycling for foil balloons.

Find out more HERE

the poster for the foil balloons recycling

Pens

Your pens can be recycled inside all Ryman Stores across the UK.

Find out more HERE

They also do printer cartridges too.

Mobile Phones

Most mobile phone companies will offer a recycling scheme within their stores or online when you upgrade. They often provide some sort of incentive for sending your own phone back so do check with your provider before taking other steps. Curry’s and Robert Dyas also offer recycling schemes.

Find out what is offered in your area HERE

Other ways of finding new uses is by selling it on or giving it to shops such as CEX or Cash Converters.

Shoes

If your old shoes aren’t in good enough condition for the charity shop, selling on or handing down then Clark’s is the place for them. Look for their Unicef bin in-store or ask a member of staff (ours didn’t have the bin out but the scheme is still running). Clark’s teamed up with Unicef back in 2008 to take old shoes to raise funds to benefit the education of children in Africa.

Find out more HERE

unicef bin on a Clarks shop floor

Clothing

Clothing can be donated to recycling banks, charity shops or in M&S shops that have their Shwop recycle bins in partnership with Oxfam.

Find out more HERE

the M&S Shwop box with Joanna Lumley stood next to it

Bras

You can recycle your bras in the UK with charity Against Breast Cancer. You can either look for a bra bank in your area or send your directly to:

Against Breast Cancer
Leathem House
13 Napier Court
Barton Lane,
Abingdon, OXON, OX14 3YT

Find out more HERE

Inflatables

Paddling pools, bouncy castles, seaside inflatables will all come to an end at some point. If you cannot repair them then why not look for a company that can turn them into something else? Wyatt & Jack has been a very popular choice for people over the years but unfortunately, right now their website is stating they cannot take any more at this very moment. I would either advise you to keep checking for updates or having a look around to see if anybody is also offering this service near to you.

Aerosols

These can either be recycled at kerbside or at recycling bank points in your area.

You can check your area HERE

Books

If you have books that are past their best, here are some ways you can recycle or pass them on – Check HERE

Mattresses and Furniture

When purchasing new mattresses or furniture take a good look at the retailer’s website or ask in store about any recycling schemes like this one from Dunelm here.

Coffee Pods

Coffee pods can be recycled via Terracycle or you can also with the company you purchase from. We use Nespresso and they provide bags for the pods and then we arrange collection from the house back to them.

Find out more HERE

Reuse

The key thing with recycling is that it should be the last port of call. If we look at the 5 R’s hierarchy it goes refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle (there are other varieties which include rot, refill and repair too). As you can see, recycle comes at the bottom so if you have am item that could be used in other ways it is best to do that first.

Furniture, clothing, cloth nappies, bedding, electricals (as long as they are safe) could all go on to be reused by somebody else, mended for future use, sold on or upcycled to make something new.

Recycling may not be at the top of the hierarchy but it’s the best option we have for an awful lot of packaging so we have to utilise it in order to tackle our waste issue.

I hope this has helped you to make a few more changes to your household waste but if you know of more great schemes do please let us know in the comments.

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