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Why we are stopping the TerraCycle collections after nearly 3 years and raising £1,400 for charity

Unfortunately, we are announcing that we are ending the TerraCycle recycling collections at the end of the current 4 week rotation of collections, ending 6th February 2022. Details of the last collection dates can be found on the recycling page of the website.

There are multiple factors that have contributed to making this decision, and over time it has become more of a burden with the day-to-day dealing with the collections and then having to ship the collected waste. However, many alternative collections are now available and we feel it’s time for others to take a role in providing such services.

Since starting the 4 week schedule, which was a necessary step to be able to reintroduce the service during COVID, many people coming to drop off recycling have adapted to the restrictions this brought, but this has also led to some incidents with rather rude people that were not happy that we are not collecting the waste they brought with them, and had to deal with multiple versions of "Well, what am I supposed to do with this now then!?" and "I guess I'll just throw in away after wasting my time bringing it here!".

This has also led to situations of people simply dumping waste on us to deal with later in various forms from posting in the letter box and leaving on the doorstep when we the shop is not open, and just leaving next to or hiding between the collection bags of the current week's collections.

The positive reasons to run the collections have also become lower as we rarely receive the points to make charitable donations, as TerraCycle have multiple times increased the minimum weight that needs to be sent to them to give the points. As an example, we haven't received points for the crisp packet collection (the collection we receive the most waste for) since the start of 2020. To fix this we would have to collect (and store for longer) more waste, and we are already really pushed to store 4 weeks of waste collected.

Furthermore, there's a misunderstanding we have come to realise that people were under the belief that The Bare Alternative has been making any money by running the collections. This is totally not the case. The only money involved in the process is what TerraCycle give as "points" which we convert into charitable donations. Nothing is given to us as a business, and if this was ever the case, we would not have run the service.

However, one of the biggest concerns about running the collections is that we've overheard several people say "Well, now I can buy X, Y or Z again because I can recycle the packaging. How great is that!?" and it just makes us 🤦‍♂️ It was never about providing this possibility. It may have given people a way to meaningfully do something with the packaging if they did have it, but over time we've just kept seeing more and more people coming to us with more and more waste which makes you wonder if we are actually a part of a solution, or just continuing the problem by justifying waste continuing to be created. As a Zero Waste Store, it's concerning that the latter could be true.

On this note, I hope that removing these collections will provide an opportunity for some to think again about the choices they make as consumers, and simply not just rely on the alternative collections out there, but also the packaging of the products that they buy of day-to-day purchases and also on a larger scale with items that are not covered by TerraCycle and the alternatives out there.

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1 Comment

James Halse
James Halse
Jan 14, 2022

Thanks for explaining your decision so clearly. Really sorry to hear you had to deal with rudeness and people dumping stuff outside - there’s no excuse for tha.t.

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