From Crisp Packets to New Shoes; Recycling the Unrecyclable

Northern Ireland recycles. Yeah, yeah, we know you know – but do you know how good we are? Over 48% percent of our household waste is now either recycled, reused or composted… and we’re sending less waste to landfill as well. Great news!

So, householders are clearly doing their bit, and councils are working hard behind the scenes to collect your waste and dispose of it correctly, but what else can be done to build on our recycling success?

There are still lots of items that are just too difficult to recycle through the current household waste schemes, due to the materials they are made from. So, what should we do – just throw them in landfill? Well, no – there’s another option, one that could result in your waste being transformed into new shoes, or even garden furniture!

A new recycling scheme is being trialed by the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA) in one of their buildings in Belfast. This scheme enables staff to recycle their crisp packets and dental hygiene products. The building, which accommodates almost 500 civil servants started the new scheme in March and is hoping that it won’t just be the environment that benefits.

The scheme, run by TerraCycle® offers reward points which can be redeemed for a cash payment to a non-profit organisation, charity or school – meaning the more you recycle, the more money you raise!

The trial enables staff to deposit their empty crisps packets and oral hygiene products in designated collection boxes. Once a certain amount has been collected, the items are sent to TerraCycle® where they are separated by plastic type, cleaned, and repurposed into plastic pellets which are used to make innovative new products, including new shoes!

Crisp packet recycling scheme. Any brand of crisps will do, as long as the packets are empty.

Sounds amazing, right?! Yes, and you can get involved too.

It’s easy to search for collection points in your area – find your local one below, or if you don’t have one nearby, you could set one up yourself! Everyone can get involved: individuals, companies, charities, community groups and schools.

Find out more

Want to know more? Watch this short ‘behind the scenes’ video from the TerraCycle factory.

The crisp packet and oral hygiene bins are situated throughout the DAERA building in Belfast.