So you want to recycle your waste, and you’ve chosen to do it with TerraCycle? Congratulations! You’re well on your way to joining our community of amazing collectors. But did you know that there’s more than one way to send us your waste? 

You can of course become a private collector by creating an account with TerraCycle, clicking “JOIN PROGRAMME FOR FREE” on the programme you want to join, printing off a free shipping label and sending your waste to us that way.

Or you can visit your nearest drop off location by going to the programme you wish to recycle on and using our interactive maps to find a collector who will accept your waste and send it to us on your behalf.

But to really go the extra mile, and to earn a lot more of those all-important TerraCycle points, you can become a public collector yourself and send us not only your waste, but also the waste of your friends and fellow members of the community. This week, Sam Angel, our Customer Service Executive tells you how to send your waste and what are the steps to become a good public collector.

What are the steps to become a Public Collector?

There are a few more steps involved in becoming a public collector compared to a private collector, but don’t worry. It’s still very easy and quick to do, and we’re here to help you along the way.

The first step is to create an account with us by visiting the website and clicking “CREATE ACCOUNT”. This might not come as a surprise but it is an important step nonetheless. The next step is to choose a programme.

TerraCycle offer a number of free recycling programmes, each of which are sponsored by a brand who covers the cost of shipping, the recycling process itself, and a charitable donation for each piece of waste you send in. But more on that later.

You will find a list of the free programmes we offer below. Some of them are only open to certain organisations, there are a couple which are currently at capacity, but the rest are open to anybody.

The free programmes currently open for individuals, schools or organisations to join are:

The BIC Writing Instruments Recycling Programme (for any brand of pen, highlighter, marker, whiteboard pen, mechanical pencil and correction fluid container) is only open to schools. 

We also run the Tassimo & L’Or Recycling Programme (for Tassimo T-Discs, Tassimo foil outer wrappers, L’OR capsules, Kenco Eco Refills packs and Kenco plastic coffee jar lids) for which we don’t currently have spaces for new members. You can take part by finding your nearest drop off points via the maps on each programme page to take your waste to (the drop-off point administrator’s charity of choice will benefit from the charity donations).

The third step is to click “JOIN PROGRAMME FOR FREE” on your chosen programme or programmes (we do of course encourage you to sign up for as many as you can handle). Congratulations! You are now free to start collecting and sending us your waste, but if you want to become a public collector, this next step is key.

join programme

Once you have a joined a programme, you will need to submit an application to make your location public. You can do so by filling out this form, which, once complete will be sent the most important member of the TerraCycle staff (me) who will then ask you to confirm your address (it’s amazing how many people misspell their postcodes!), and then add your location’s details to the map.

The Map

The map is the most useful tool in the public collector’s belt. It not only tells other like-minded, eco-friendly individuals where to find you; it also gives them vital information such as opening hours, your chosen charity beneficiary, and your contact details (should you wish to divulge them of course).

map UK ok

The aim of becoming a public location and of anything that TerraCycle does, is to prevent as much waste as possible from ending up in landfill or incineration. The map means that members of your community can flock, hopefully not all at once, to your location and bring their waste with them, allowing you to send us a truly staggering amount of waste to be recycled.

Collection boxes

The collection box is the second most useful tool at a collector’s disposal. For most programmes a public collector signs up for we will send them a specially designed and clearly identifiable collection box from the brand sponsor themselves. That means you can collect your air and home care waste in a box made by Febreze themselves; or your used personal care waste in a receptacle from the amazing folks at Garnier. This is a privilege reserved only for public collectors, as private collectors – as hard working and eco-conscious as they are – do not receive branded boxes.


For one or two programmes we are still waiting for an updated version of the branded box, and in the instances where we cannot send boxes to a public drop-off location, collectors have been truly creative. Many decide to design their own, and go to extraordinary lengths, coming up with original homemade boxes, or getting in touch with local councils and requesting wheelie bins or similarly large containers for which they print and attach the accepted waste posters from the TerraCycle website. If going homemade and decorative is the route you decide to go down, we have a number of great resources available to all collectors so that you can really rake in the collections.

Charity Points

The point of raking in all this waste is obviously to save our planet, which we all know and love and is hopefully the main reason we all recycle. A public collector’s duty, however, is to go above and beyond in their quest to rid the planet of waste, and it’s a job that can often be thankless. Fortunately this is not the case when you recycle with TerraCycle and this is where those all-important TerraCycle points come in.

To show our appreciation for all the hard work collectors do, both privately and publicly, we (with the help of our very generous sponsors) donate either one or two TerraCycle Points per piece of waste you send in, to the charity or organisation of your choice. Each TerraCycle point is worth £0.01, which may not sound like much but it quickly adds up, particularly for public drop-off locations.

Being a public location opens collectors up to a world of possibilities in terms of being able to maximise the amount of waste they collect, and therefore the amount of money they can earn for charity. Collectors often start out by encouraging friends and family to help them recycle, but there are collectors out there who have turned an eco-friendly hobby into a recycling empire and have raised truly staggering amounts of money for their chosen organisations.

Tips to be a good public drop off location

Below you will find the Sam Angel lowdown on how to maximise your waste collections, point donation and sense of satisfaction, all at the same time.

  1. Start by advertising your new drop-off location. Things like the map and branded collection box help get the ball rolling, but putting up posters and flyers – either home made or downloaded from our website – will tell more people that you’re open for business. Social medias can also be very useful to communicate about your initiative.
  2. Often collectors find that not enough people will visit a drop-off point at their home address, or sometimes too many people will visit their home address. Sometimes collectors simply don’t want people to visit their home address at all, even though it’s a well-known fact that recyclers are all lovely people. In any case, to ensure that as many people as possible have access to your location, one idea is to have a box at a frequently visited location in your community. This could be a school, a library, or even better a supermarket. The opportunities are endless and a lot of these kinds of spaces are more than happy to host a drop-off point box.
  3. The final piece of advice I would offer potential new collectors, would be to take advantage of the TerraCycle PR team. These guys are great, and will do almost anything to get TerraCycle collector some local media coverage to help raise awareness. Simply let us know that you would like some free PR, and the TerraCycle PR team will draft a press release for you to approve, get some photos of your location and send it in to any local media that you’d like to see the story in. This is the way to really take your collections to the next level.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up to be a public collector with TerraCycle today!

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