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8 Things You Never Knew Could Be Recycled


A quick run-down on items you never knew could be recycled. Most of these items contain a mix of materials which make them challenging, expensive and complex to recycle, but it can be done if we know where to look. 

Pens: Terracycle has an amazing programme where you can recycle your used pens and other writing instruments. The programme is in partnership with BIC® and you can find drop off locations all around the UK. Unfortunately, the programme is full at the moment, but keep an eye on the Terracycle website!

Bikes: We are Cycling UK are a national cycling charity whose aim is to see more bicycles available to the public. You can donate your bike to them, and they can put the bike to use – even if it’s falling apart, their team is highly skilled in maintenance and repair and can put it to good use. Visit their website for further information and a recycling directory to see what’s in your area and find ways you might be able to support them. 

Makeup packaging: Terracycle has teamed up with beauty brands such as The Body Shop, Kiehl's, Maybelline and L'Occitane  – so you can recycle any empty bottles or containers in store and they will sort it. Terracycle separates the products by polymer type, deep clean them and then turn them into plastic pellets that can be used by manufacturers for other products. Make sure to check with your local store however, some items such as makeup brushes, nail varnish and aerosols cannot be recycled. 

Stamps: Another item I never knew you could recycle, due to the plastic backing but apparently you can! Some charities recycle old stamps to raise money. They will turn your old postage stamps into funds to support charities and research. You simply cut off the stamp and leave approximately 1cm of envelope bordering each stamp. Charities such as Against Breast Cancer, Macmillan Cancer Support and Oxfam should accept them. If you are unsure, check with your local shop!

Wine Corks: check out – a great company that takes donated corks and resell. “We strive to serve our natural environment by recycling cork stoppers, most of which will not break down in landfill.” For every cork collected, they donate a % of their profit to their nominated charities. They also supply free corks to schools for craft projects. 

Toothbrushes: Again, the wonderful Terracycle has teamed up with Colgate to recycle old toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, outer packaging and electric toothbrush heads. Check out the Terracycle website for more information about the programme. 

Bras: Don’t let your bras go to the landfill! Against Breast has a bra recycling scheme which collects your unwanted bras through a network of bra banks and raises money for vital funds for research. The bras are also sent to developing countries where bras are too expensive to produce locally. According to their website, for every tonne of bras collected, Against Breast Cancer receives £700 to fund their research. Visit the Against Breast Cancer website to find out more information.

Carpet: Carpet is challenging to recycle due to the mix of materials, but it can be done. Check with the shop you bought your carpet from, they might be able to take it back. You could also contact your local council and see if they offer a recycling service. Check out Carpet Recycling UK for info on how to prevent your old carpet from going to waste and for useful recycling tips.