TerraCycle: Recycle that difficult stuff

TerraCycle® is a social enterprise Eliminating the Idea of Waste®. In 20 countries, we tackle the issue from many angles. We have found that nearly everything we touch can be recycled and collect typically non-recyclable items through national, first-of-their-kind recycling platforms.


Austin is fortunate to have the capability to recycle all that we do. We take a lot of recycling curbside and the Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center takes much of the rest.

Programs like the Austin Reuse Directory, Buy Nothing Project and the various libraries available capture even more.

For the little bit that is left, there is TerraCycle. Individuals and businesses can sign up to recycle more difficult items like contact lens materials, oral care items, cigarettes, medical sharps, and so much more! Now, as a reminder, if it’s possible, try and reduce your consumption of these harder to recycle items, but it’s not always possible to completely eliminate these items, you may not be able to, and sometimes it’s nice to have treat.

I broke down this year and bought the smallest All-In-One box. For $199.00 when not on sale, I’ve put this off for years. However several of the Austin Zero Waste Lifestyle members always talk about their boxes so I figured I go ahead and get one. One member said it lasted her family six months. I used my Christmas money to try it out.

It comes in a plastic mailer bag, to the heart pain of any zero waster. However you can use this bag to collect your plastic bags and plastic film to drop off at a store plastic bag drop-off location, the Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center, or you can put it in your TerraCycle box. It does not fit under my counter cabinets so I’ve actually decided to put it in the pantry. I chose this box since it takes almost all items that TerraCycle processes. TerraCycle does not include a paper list or link to all the items acceptable so I just check to see if TerraCycle has the item in question in another item-specific box or pouch. If so it goes in. I’ve requested TerraCycle make a list of all their boxes and pouches to share with you all, and a list of what is accepted in the All-In-One Zero Waste Box. I’ll update you if I receive a response.

Prohibited in the All-In-One box are organics, broken glass, bio-medical waste, soiled diapers, expired medication, pesticides, paints, pressurized canisters, and medical sharps. As TerraCycle does not allow double-sized razor blades in it’s razor recycling program, I have also interpreted things to mean these are not allowed either.

January 15 is the last day of the new year sale. I don’t recall that I’ve seen them have a sale before so if you’ve wanted to try these out, now is the perfect time. I’d love to hear your experiences or what other boxes you’ve tried?

I’m also on the Gillette® Razor Recycling Program and the Tom’s of Maine Natural Care Recycling Program. My brother quite smoking cigarette’s but I also have access to the Cigarette Waste Recycling Program if I want.

Here’s to even less waste in the landfills in 2020!