It’s vital to stop as much of our stuff as possible from going to landfill as it pollutes the soils and seas where we get our food.
As the demand for a circular economy grows, the technology to reuse and recycle is improving, but it’s still very confusing.
Recycling should be easier to understand than it is, which is why I’ve done this research to find places to take your stuff once it’s beyond reusing or repairing.
I’ll be adding to this list whenever I get updated information, so feel free to bookmark this recycling directory for later.
Battery chemicals are toxic and corrosive so they can leach into groundwater if they’re taken to landfill. Dispose of them at supermarkets or recycling centres instead.
If you have old bedding like old duvets or pillows then the best place to take them is probably an animal rescue centre, but enquire first.
Cameras can generally (but not always) be taken back by their manufacturer, depending on who made them. If they’re in working order then you can send them to a recycler for cash.
Computers and laptops
Apple Macs, whether desktop or laptops can be recycled in any Apple Store for free – if they’re in working order you can also get credit for them. You can also sell them for parts if they’re no longer working. They take non-Apple laptops for recycling too. Make sure to remove all your data first.
You can drop your used contact lenses and their packs (even if they haven’t been opened due to a prescription change) at various Terracycle points around the UK. Many of these are at opticians or at Boots stores. They get made into hard plastic which can be made into plastic products like benches.
Cosmetics and bath product packaging
If you have any plastic tubes, hair dye kits, deodorants, plastic caps or pumps, plastic wipe packaging or mask packaging then that can be taken to a Terracycle point too. Find the full list of what they accept here. They ask that you don’t send plastic bottles or cardboard as this should be covered by your council.
John Lewis offers ‘Beautycycle‘ of cosmetic packaging to loyalty cardholders but its still a Terracycle scheme that they’ve rebranded to make themselves look more sustainable.
Terracycle also has a crisp packet recycling scheme for all brands, and you can request a point at your office if you wish (we have one at mine). Otherwise, you can create an account and send your packets to them once you have enough.
You can take old glasses to any of the collection points on this map (Specsavers is a big one) and they will send them to Vision Aid Overseas who distribute them to visually impaired people around the world.
Mattresses are slightly complicated, because they are recyclable in theory but this doesn’t seem to happen in practice. They have to be manually stripped which is why the recycling service isn’t really offered.
Some manufacturers do take them back but only if you buy a new one from them. If there’s nothing wrong with your mattress then consider donating it to a charity who can give it to someone in need. Use a mattress protector to keep it in good shape.
Pens, pencils, highlighters and correction fluid pots or tape
These four items can be recycled at these points around the UK.
Pet food pouches
Pet food pouches can be recycled by Terracycle at these collection points. They must be washed first, so you may consider buying tins for wet food instead.
Depending on the state of your phone, they can be sold to recyclers like MusicMagpie once you’ve removed the data from them. Shop around for the best deal.
Plastic bags can be recycled at supermarkets and don’t forget to include your bread bags as they can be recycled as well! They usually get made into bin bags or carrier bags.
Morrisons helpfully print information on their packaging to show what you can bring back into the store for recycling and what can be done at home.
Printer cartridges are another tricky one, as many recycling schemes only take certain brands and not supermarket ones or any that have been refilled or damaged. If they’re the right ones, then your used cartridges can make money for charities if you print off labels online and post them on their behalf. If you work in an office, then Staples can collect your cartridges from you.
Collect old clothes and you can take them to a textile bank at your local recycling centre but always check the website before you go.
Clothing store H&M did have a garment recycling scheme, but it was panned because as sellers of fast fashion, they are part of the problem.
Swedish Stockings are a company that make tights from recycled materials (I’m wearing them in the picture – not an ad, I’m genuinely impressed with their business model). They offer a discount to anyone who sends in their old tights (any brand) and they’re made into filler material for fibreglass tanks until the technology to separate the fibres to reknit them into fabric becomes available.
This is the UK address to send your tights:
PHOEBE ENGLISH STUDIO
5 – 9 CREEKSIDE, SE8 4SA, LONDON
If you want to support recyclers and upcyclers in the UK, then consider buying ethical, upcycled or handmade products from Etsy, instead of lining the pockets of global brands with no real intention to be sustainable.
Do you have any recyclers that need to be added to this directory then please let me know as I’d love to hear about them.
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