Resource Efficient Innovations Database (REID)

Innovative scheme for hard-to-recycle consumer packaging

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Innovative scheme for hard-to-recycle consumer packaging
An innovative scheme allows consumers to post other hard-to-recycle packaging such as biscuit wrappers to be recycled into every day goods
In Use – The scheme has been active in the UK for a couple of years, and continues to gain participation from an increasing number of brand owners.

Recycled content/recyclability

Product Categories
Drinks, Food, Home Improvement, Household & Personal Care

Relevant Materials
Laminates, Liquid Beverage Cartons or other composites, Plastic – Flexible, Plastic – rigid, Plastics - Other / mixed

Relevant Packaging Formats
Flexible & Films

Supply Chain Phase
Consumer, Recovery


This innovative scheme sets up national recycling systems for previously non-recyclable or hard-to-recycle waste and then converts the collected waste into a wide variety of products and materials.

To start recycling, consumer sign up and join a recycling “brigade”. There are Brigades for many different waste steams ranging from chocolate bar wrappers to pens. While some Brigades have a cost many are free. The scheme operators pay the postage for every unit of waste sent. In return for the waste, the operators donate at least £0.02 to a charity or school of the consumer’s choice.
In many cases, recycling Brigades are sponsored by brand owners and target specific items of packaging for specific brands. For example, TerraCycle, the company which operates the system, currently has recycling Brigades for McVitie’s Biscuit wrappers (a United Biscuits brand) and Kenco Eco Refill (a Kraft Food’s brand). There is also a multi-stream Brigade, which allows consumers to collect a range of waste streams without having to separate them.
The collected waste is recycled (or up-cycled) into a wide range of materials and products, such as garden furniture, plastic paving, plant pots, pencil cases, school bags and similar items. Items such as pencil cases are often manufactured to show the original packaging used for their construction, providing further brand awareness for the recycling Brigade sponsors.
The content in this entry has been obtained from publicly available information sources only (e.g. press releases, website and trade press articles) and is subject to completion of a validation process with the technology supplier.

Potential Benefits

The major benefit of this system is diverting otherwise difficult to recycle waste streams from landfill, whilst raising consumer awareness of and participation in recycling.

Intellectual Property

For their packaging to be included in the scheme, companies must partner TerraCycle.

Consultant View

The overall market potential for some of the products manufactured from this scheme may be limited. However, the scheme demonstrates that innovative thinking can deliver recycling of some of the most difficult materials. For brand owners, this scheme can fills the gap for mixed material recycling and help to enhance the perception of brands packaged in multilayer materials.

Contacts and Further Information

TerraCycle UK.
Sabichi House, 5 Wadsworth Rd.
Perivale, Middlesex.
Tel: 0208 7997 516

Companies who would like their packaging to be part of the scheme should contact TerraCycle at

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