Why does it cost to recycle?

We often get asked, “why do your programs require brand sponsors?” Or “Why does the Zero Waste Box system cost money?”

These are great questions! That’s why this week, we thought we’d clear up some of the most common queries we receive around this!

Firstly, we want to start by saying: Everything can be recycled! It really comes down to finding someone who is willing to pay for it. Why something frequently isn’t recyclable in your kerbside recycling is because the cost of recycling that item is higher than the value of the material you get once it’s been recycled.

For example: when you use a glass bottle and put it in your recycling, it can be melted down and made into a new glass bottle. The bottle holds most of its value.

For example: beauty care products, which frequently aren’t kerbside recyclable because they are made from complex materials. Beauty products could have a mixture of components such as mirrors, coloured or frosted glass, metal springs and pumps and different types of plastic.
This means that the products often need to be manually sorted, which is labour intensive and expensive. The processing of these materials is far more complex and needs advanced machinery. Plus the end product is usually a low-grade pellet which doesn’t retain its value. 

Why are national recycling programs free?

National recycling programs are in fact not free. They are just free for you to use, but they do cost money to run. Brands and retailers partner with us to fund these programs. For products and packaging that don’t have a brand-sponsored program, you have the power to recycle everything and reduce what you send to landfill with a Zero Waste Box system.

Why are programs waitlisted?

This happens because most programs have a limit on the number of participants or the amount of waste accepted according to the sponsoring brand’s recycling budget. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to estimate how long you’ll have to wait before being added to a program because the decision ultimately lies with the brand partner; we ask that you remain patient while we work with the brand to make more spots available.

When this happens you have a few options:

  1. Visit a Community Collection Hub – you can find your nearest Hub by using our map – here
  2. Sign up to become a Community Collection Hub
  3. See if there is an in-store TerraCycle recycling option.

Why does a TerraCycle Zero Waste Box cost money?

The Zero Waste Box system empowers individuals to fund their own recycling initiatives that go above and beyond what your local recycling services offer.

The cost of recycling can be broken down into three main parts: transportation, processing, and recycling. In your typical kerbside programs, your local government manages this (and is incorporated into your rates). With the Zero Waste Box system, this is built into the price.

Let’s break this down:

  • Transportation: Shipping your products and packaging to us for recycling involves a courier. Part of the cost of your Zero Waste Box system goes toward the prepaid shipping label that comes with it.
  • Processing: Once we receive your Zero Waste Box, our warehouse team sorts your items by their material composition.
  • Recycling: The components are cleaned and then transformed into raw materials that can be used to manufacture new products. 

While the Zero Waste Box system may seem expensive, it is more than “just a box.” It is a way to recycle everything and keep your products and packaging out of landfills.

3 thoughts

  1. Hi I would love to do the disposable masks, do I have to pay each time for a new box ? and is it free postage to send a box back. Thanks Robby


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