TerraCycle Collector Spotlight: A Charity sustainably raising money by recycling hair care products

Haircare products are often made from a mix of complex materials, which is why some councils don’t accept certain packaging in kerbside recycling. Through our Schwarzkopf Cares Hair Aerosol and Hair Care & Colour Recycling Program, we’ve developed ways to recycle these tricky items, so you can help keep them out of landfill.

The three common types of hard-to-recycle hair care packaging are:

  • Pump heads are made of small complex parts using a mixture of materials such as plastic, glass and metal springs. Although these components are recyclable on their own, they can be fiddly to separate. 
  • Aerosol cans are pressurised and at risk of becoming flammable. Because of this, some councils require you to take them to a specialist facility (but they can be collected and shipped through our program!) 
  • Squeezable tubes are often lined with other materials such as aluminium. Again, these materials can be recycled separately, but stripping them apart can be a challenging process.

Tamsin Lillie, a medical doctor and the CEO of Medic to Medic, a small charity based in the UK, US and NZ, has been recycling hair care waste through the Schwarzkopf Cares program to raise money for her charity.  

Medic to Medic provides scholarships to trainee healthcare workers in Africa who are at risk of dropping out of their training due to poverty.  As a small charity, Tamsin has now raised over $1,887 NZD through TerraCycle points.  

Recently expanding to Rotorua NZ, Tamsin has begun to engage local hairdressers to collect waste for her to recycle on their behalf.

We caught up with Tamsin to hear more about how she’s raising money for her charity through TerraCycle Points!

Can you tell us a bit about Medic to Medic?

“Tertiary student tuition fees and living expenses are often beyond the reach of a student with academic potential from a low-socioeconomic background. 

“However, it’s important to also note that when you increase education and access to healthcare, you can help break the chain of poverty in these areas. Medic to Medic provides students with tuition fees, medical equipment, textbooks, stationery allowance and a laptop, to help get them through university into a medical career, which can transform their lives and the lives around them”.

When and why did you start collecting through TerraCycle?

“I started collecting with TerraCycle in 2010 when I was at university in the UK and first became involved with Medic to Medic. When I moved to New Zealand for work in 2015 I signed up with an account here and started collecting.

Raising funds for Medic to Medic through TerraCycle is a great way to try and promote a charitable purpose with an environmental ethos and it’s much easier to ask people for their waste than their money, particularly during covid times when there are more financial pressures on families and individuals.”

How is TerraCycle supporting your charity?

“TerraCycle is central to helping Medic to Medic achieve our sustainable fundraising strategy.  We know that everyone will find themselves in good and hard times which leaves monetary charitable donations vulnerable.  As an organisation, we are trying to find ways of promoting sustainable fundraising, which helps us plan ahead and work out how much additional fundraising we need to achieve to meet all our commitments to our student community.  

TerraCycle is helping us be on the right side of history. Climate change will affect developing countries the hardest, increasing poverty and health needs. This will directly impact our alumni community working in health, and also our student community.”

How are you engaging other businesses locally to become collectors?

“When TerraCycle launched the Schwarzkopf Cares Recycling Programme for any brand of used hair care, hair colour or aerosol packaging, I did a walkabout in my town centre visiting all the local hairdressers.

I brought with me the accepted waste posters and a short letter explaining that I was a public drop off collection point and could come in and collect their recycling. Two hairdressers have been proactive and are actively collecting – I hope more will join in the future! I visit them on alternate weeks to collect their waste and send an average of five shipments a month (box size depending!).”

Beyond hairdressers are there any other businesses you’re looking to approach?

“I’ve also written letters to all local dentists and orthodontists asking them to let their patients/clients know that there are recycling options for these hard-to-recycle items, and to drop them off to the public drop off locations on the TerraCycle map (of which I am one!). 

“I have a Facebook group called “Rotorua Recycles”, where I try to promote the waste streams and good news stories and have distributed an information leaflet to hospitals and local GP network where I work.  I’m also trying to engage with local climate action groups. I’m starting to receive more donations but changing habits can be a slow process!”

Why did you select hairdressers?

“The hairdressers seemed like an ideal programme for me to get actively involved in because of the amount of waste generated – businesses generate large volumes of waste and feel more proactive about collecting these large volumes than waiting for people to come to the public drop off point. It has been great working with them!”

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