From pens, to baby food packaging and biscuits wrappers: typically hard-to-recycle waste can be recycled through TerraCycle®

Photo by  Olia Gozha  on  Unsplash

Photo by Olia Gozha on Unsplash

I am the one in the family everyone looks to for answers when a particular material, packaging or object is not an obvious candidate for one of our recycling bins. Still, being good at recycling is hard and requires patience and, at times, some research to get it right. When working at Barilla, I developed the recycling icons that are now present on every pack of Mulino Bianco biscuits. At that time, it was clear to me that recycling standards and rules can differ from one city to another and that extra care has to be given to certain products – e.g. Tetrapack containers. After moving to London, I had to learn new recycling collection rules, while at the same time facing new ‘recycling enigmas’ posed by my kids. Two that I had to address were: markers and pens, and biscuits wrappers such as those of a pack of Digestives or Oreos. The former, once at the end-of-life or dry (a staple in every home with toddlers!) simply settled into an old shoe box for a long time. As for the biscuits wrappers, I moved onto making home-made biscuits and cereals and didn't have to face the issue about recycling the wrappers anymore - that is, until now, when we have a guest at home who loves McVities and this brought the recycling enigma back to the fore!

The answer to both the markers/pens and the biscuits wrapper enigmas is called TerraCycle®. TerraCycle® is an innovative recycling company that has become a global leader in recycling typically hard-to-recycle waste. TerraCycle® reuses, upcycles and recycles waste instead of incinerating or landfilling it. This moves waste from a linear system to a circular one, allowing it to keep cycling in our economy. The company offers a range of free programmes that are funded by conscientious companies, as well as recycling solutions available for purchase for almost every form of waste. Now, going back to the two recycling enigmas:

Markers & Pens

In 2011, BIC partnered with TerraCycle® launched a program to collect used writing instruments of any brand, to turn them into new products. This free program enables every school, charity, or company willing to participate, to organize the voluntary collection of writing instruments and be rewarded. Any 15kg of writing instruments qualifies for TerraCycle®points which can be redeemed for the school, charity or non-profit of choice: 1 TerraCycle® Point is worth £0.01. At TerraCycle® the writing instruments are separated by material composition, cleaned and melted into hard plastic that can be remoulded to make new recycled products.  One of the recycled product made with writing instruments waste is Ubicuity, a range of outdoor furniture made in France. As of today, £35,264.73 was raised for charities.

Biscuits wrappers

TerraCycle®, McVitie's®, Carr's®, Go Ahead® and Jacob's® have partnered to create a free recycling programme for any brand of non-savoury biscuit and cracker wrappers, and a fundraising opportunity for participants. Every parcel of cracker and biscuit wrappers with a weight of 1kg minimum (about 417 wrappers) receives TerraCycle® points. The fundraising programme allows participants to convert points into a monetary donation to a charity of their choice.

To learn more about TerraCycle®: and all free recycling programmes

To learn about the BIC programme: