Recycle for Kicks Count NI is a small dedicated group of volunteers collecting hard to recycle items not currently recycled by local authorities in Northern Ireland. These items are then sent to TerraCycle for recycling and money is raised for Kicks Count, a UK charity that raises awareness of baby movements to reduce stillbirths, through the many reward programmes operated by TerraCycle.
Founder of Recycle for Kicks Count NI and recycling extraordinaire Vicky Seviour-Crockett explains how the group came into existence and what it is doing to help tackle Northern Ireland’s waste problem.
“My mum had always taught me to never waste, and I worked in my local Waste and Recycling department for a time, so I was always conscious of litter and landfill.
When my son William was born in April 2014, I wanted to make the world better for him, and we began litter picking for exercise and fresh air. In Oct 2014 I went to bin a baby wipe packet and thought ‘what a waste’. That’s when I remembered Kicks Count.
I’m not associated with Kicks Count, but their information prompted me to go to the hospital when my son’s movements reduced during my pregnancy. 90% of women who experience a stillbirth notice a change in movement beforehand but don’t say anything or think that it is normal.
Kicks Count has a network of volunteers who fundraised for them using TerraCycle by sending off hard to recycle waste, and I decided to get involved. TerraCycle partners with brands to make recycling affordable, something councils don’t, which means they take items that local councils can’t currently recycle, like crisps and biscuit wrappers.
In late 2014 my husband George and I created the Facebook group, which now has over 3,700 members. We did the recycling from our home near Maghera, and still do to this day. As you can imagine with an energetic 7-year-old and two full-time jobs, we heavily rely on a network of committed volunteers to cover areas we can’t reach and to spread the word. Some store the waste until we get there, and George drives to big towns (hubs) roughly every 6 weeks on his days off to collect the recycling. We also work with other TerraCycle groups In NI, swapping waste and sharing information.
Our home recycling centre.
Since we started TerraCycling in 2014 we have paid for petrol, bins, tapes, and everything else out of our own pocket. In January 2021 DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs) generously provided £4000 to purchase 1100L industrial bins to be used as drop-off points for towns with no existing hub. The main benefit of these bins is to have somewhere convenient where people can deposit bags of TerraCycling items until we can get to that area to collect them. It’s nice to see that DAERA recognises the value in what we do, and their support has led to further interest from councils and organisations.
Individuals help us in a variety of ways. Some share our posts on social media, some save their waste, and others collect from family, friends, and neighbours too. Some transport the waste from areas they work in whilst some help sort and package it, saving us a significant amount of time.
We advise people to start small, just saving crisps for example, then adding more programmes as they get the hang of it. The key thing is to ensure that waste is pre-sorted, as this saves us so much time.
A really good tip is to use a bread bag or cereal bag for each programme rather than use plastic bags. This means we can just tip the recycling into a box and can recycle the bags after.
Once their bags are full they take their waste to the nearest drop-off point. This could be a home address, a business, shop, drop-off bin, or even a phone box.
Map showing collection points for Recycle for Kicks Count.
The waste is delivered to me or collected by George, and taken to our recycling room for processing. Items are separated into the different programmes that TerraCycle operates. When each box meets the minimum weight requirements, it is sealed and we download a freepost label.
UPS collects and delivers our parcels to TerraCycle, who weigh them and credit our account based on the weight of recycling.
The items are then shredded, washed and reused, and made into all kinds of different things like playground equipment and outdoor furniture.
Every 6 months we send our accrued points to Kicks Count, who receive a cheque for the value of the waste we’ve sent. This is used to produce leaflets and posters, or to attend baby fairs, spreading information about baby movements to reduce stillbirths and neonatal death rates in the UK.
In the early days we begged everyone to give us their rubbish, and were pleased to raise £150 in the first 6 months alone. Now, people offer to help us and we raise roughly £2000 every 6 months. We’ve recycled over 200,000 crisp packets, 200,000 biscuit wrappers, 200,000 sweet wrappers, 70,000 bread bags and 50,000 disposable gloves. £8000 has been raised purely from rubbish, keeping it off our streets and out of landfill. And this is something everyone can do, we don’t ask for monetary donations, just your rubbish!
We are keen litter pickers and many of these items you’d find littering the streets. If we can encourage people to #DontDumpDonate, we can keep Northern Ireland beautiful and prompt a change. Seeing how much plastic you use is often the first step on the journey towards zero waste.
For me, Terracycle is a no-brainer. Why send waste to landfill, when you can help the planet and help babies? It’s a #WinWin”.
To learn more about the great work that Vicky and her team of committed volunteers are doing, or if you are interested in becoming involved in TerraCycling, follow Recycle for KC Northern Ireland on Facebook.