I'm not much of an environmentalist - much to the despair of family members and colleagues alike - but I am an avowed cheapskate, and luckily the two objectives have a lot of overlap. I've been meaning to write a post collating local recycling options for ages, but I've finally been given a push by joining the new Zero Waste Torfaen facebook group and the fantastic website it's spawned.
So, yeah, here is my post of how to recycle and make money or help a good cause - especially from the stuff they won't take at the kerbside. But, before that, here's what the council will and won't recycle...
Kerbside collection in Torfaen consists of the blue bag (cardboard / brown packaging paper / coloured tissue paper), the green bin (garden waste but no soil or rubble), brown caddy (food waste), yellow bag (nappies), the purple lidded bin (for anything that can't be recycled), and the black box. The black box is the primary method of recycling in Torfaen and currently accepts:
Cartons (Fruit Juice, Children’s Drinks, UHT Milk/Milkshake, Soup)
Catalogues, Books, Newspapers, Magazines and Telephone Directories
Clothes, Textiles and Paired Shoes (please bag)
Empty Aerosols (no spray paint or industrial aerosols)
Food Tins and Drink Cans
Glass Jars and Bottles
Paper, Mail (including envelopes with plastic windows), Greetings Cards
Plastic (e.g. yoghurt pots, ice cream and margarine tubs, microwave food trays, detergent bottles, plastic lids, cosmetic tubes, etc)
They won't take:
Heat Treated Glass (Drinking Glasses, Pyrex, Corningware, etc)
Polystyrene, Plastic Film, Cling Film
Toys, Flower Pots, Seed Trays, Coat Hangers, Crisp Packets
Wrapping Paper (but here's a blog post with 31 suggestions of things to do with it!)
Bulky waste can be taken to the Household Waste Recycling Centre in New Inn. If you don't have transport you can pay to get it collected which costs from £28. If you have no money try British Heart Foundation and Circulate Recycling who'll pick up furniture and electricals (in sellable condition) for free, and the local scrap metal guys will take broken appliances (bar fridge/freezers).
Sadly, if your stuff is junk you just get an unwieldy garden decoration to deal with until you can get the cash together...
Donate or Sell?
Good condition donations are wanted by charity shops throughout Torfaen. We usually take ours to the St David's Hospice Care Drop Off Centre in Cwmbran because it's close and convenient, but there are shops for St. David's, Trac2, All Creatures Great and Small, Shaw Trust, Cancer Research, British Heart Foundation, Ty Hafan, British Red Cross, Hospice of the Valleys, etc, etc.
That's without even mentioning the innumerable school fetes, church bazaars and fundraising jumble sales held throughout the year.
Selling stuff on is always an option too. Car boot sales, eBay, Facebook Buy and Sell Groups. If you just want to get rid of it check out places like Freegle and Freecycle. One man's trash is another's treasure - aka someone out there will be grateful to take that bag of plastic coat hangers off your hands!
If you're willing to put in the time and faff of collecting, listing, selling, posting, etc, you can sell just about anything. This is Money put together a table of how much you can expect to get for various household items in 2017 which still holds as a rough guide:
The biggest problems, IME, is finding the space and the patience. I've tried it in the past but then switched to receipt apps as my main source of accumulating a few pennies. I still collect some items to sell - glass jars and bottles will always find a market - but other than that I now concentrate on things which I know will make a difference; e.g. crisp packets which would otherwise be general waste, and milk bottle tops for charity.
(If you do have space to spare and are not interested in making money out of it, take a look at Terracycle's current collection schemes.)
Crisp packets can be recycled by Terracycle or are collected by some charities to be turned into shock blankets and the like. There are lots of collection points around Torfaen; for a full list click HERE.
A lot of the plastic that can't go in the black box - bubble wrap, plastic carrier bags, bread bags, plastic ring joiners from multipacks, wrap used on food/toilet roll/magazines, etc - can be put in the recycling collection points at Sainsburys and Morrisons in Cwmbran.
Used Tassimo and L'OR Nespresso coffee pods can be taken to Co-Op Funeral Care in Pontnewydd.
Pet food and baby food pouches are being collected by Samantha Price in Varteg for Ellie's Fund, which raises money for children with brain tumours. Baby food pouches can also be sent to Ella's Kitchen for recycling - click to find out more.
You can recycle confectionery wrappers too - find your nearest collection point HERE.
Brita water filters can be recycled at Tesco (Pontypool), Sainsbury's (Cwmbran), and Argos (Cwmbran and Pontypool).
Henllys Rotary Club are collecting plastic milk bottle tops to raise money for End Polio.
Go through your cupboards and see if there's any food you're not going to use. Eastern Valley Foodbank has collection points in Cwmbran and Pontypool. If you've no spare money to buy food for donation, consider collecting promotional freebies offered by the shopping apps and donating those.
Pringles tubes cannot currently be recycled, but you can send the official ones freepost to Terracycle for recycling. See the Pringles website for more info. The plastic lids can go in the black box but, actually, these are super useful if you keep hold of them. You can use them as lids for food tins, for example, which is great for storing opened tins in the fridge. For 40 other ideas check out One Good Thing.
If you take a reusable mug / flask with you stores often offer a discount. You get 20p off in Greggs, 25p in Starbucks, 25p in Costa, 25p in M&S café, and 50p at Pret a Manger. There's a full list for smaller chains at MSE.
Did you know asthma inhalers can be recycled? Find your nearest participating pharmacy HERE.
Unopened, unused and out of date medicines can be returned to your pharmacy for safe disposal.
Mascara wands are used in animal sanctuaries around the world. Post your old ones to Plastic Freedom in Southport and they ship them out in bulk to places which need them.
If you return five empty Bodyshop (Cwmbran) tubs/jars/tubes/etc you'll get £5 store credit. Although it won't bag you any cash, you can also take in containers from other brands for recycling. Elsewhere, you can take five Lush (Cardiff) containers back for a free face mask and 10 to Kiehl's (Cardiff) for a free travel sized product. Return one to L'Occitane (Cardiff) for 10% off a full size product of your choice.
Unwanted or broken jewellery in gold or silver is easy to sell. Check out Sell Gold Comparison for the best price.
Give and MakeUp is a non-profit initiative for getting cosmetics, toiletries and other essentials to women in refuge centres. They accept both new and lightly used products (bar mascara and lip gloss), and you can send it to Escentual in Cardiff for distribution by Welsh Women's Aid, or get in touch with Cyfanol in Pontypool to ask what they are in need of locally.
Shaving isn't just a pain in the backside - it's a money sink and an environmental nightmare. The best way to go is an old fashioned metal safety razor from eco-friendly brands like Mutiny Shaving or Kairn. (Well, the real best way is just not to give a damn and let Mother Nature do her work.) For those of us who aren't quite brave enough, ever more companies are offering razor cartridge recycling schemes: Gillette, Friction Free Shaving, Gruum, etc.
27,000 trees are wiped out every day to make toilet paper. Do your bit to save the trees - and save yourself money! - by switching to Who Gives A Crap.
1/3 of the British population has experienced period poverty with the average spend coming in at £13 a month. Some options to consider include menstrual cups, period pants, reusable sanitary towels, and OHNE biodegradable tampons.
Ditch the make up wipes and invest in a flannel and a jar of cold cream. If Ponds was good enough for Queen Marie of Romania, it's good enough for me!
Torfaen School Uniform Donate and Swap. Does what it says on the tin. ;)
H&M (Newport) take a bag of any old clothes and textiles in return for £5 off a £30 shop. M&S (Cwmbran) will take their own brand clothing / textiles in return for £5 off a £35 shop. Other retailers offering similar schemes are Zara (Cardiff), The North Face (Bristol), and & Other Stories (Bristol).
Another option is to sign up to Thrift+ - they send you a freepost bag you fill with unwanted clothing. They then list it for sale online giving a third of proceeds to a charity of your choice, and a third to you in the form of store credits. Treasure House is a similar service for children's clothing.
Morsbags is a movement that transforms unwanted textiles into reusable bags. The bags are then given away free to encourage environmental awareness and community engagement. Find out more at their website! I always collect the free fabric bags handed out at fairs and stuff to use for gift bags too - if the design isn't pretty enough just cut the design off some old bedding / outgrown t-shirt / whatever and sew it on.
Moti in Cwmbran have a collection point for old trainers. They are then recycled or, if in good nick, distributed at homeless shelters. Nike (Gloucester) take trainers in any condition to be used to make things like tennis court surfaces. Runners Need (Bristol) also collect them and give you £20 store credit in return.
Smalls for All is a charity which provides underwear to women and children in poverty. They accept new pants and knickers, as well as 'gently worn' bras. You can post them yourself to Smalls for All, 108 Buchanan Crescent, Eliburn, Livingston, EH54 7EF or drop them off to Samantha Price in Varteg. Clean kids' underwear can also be donated to nurseries and infant schools as spares in the event of 'little accidents'.
If you don't want to think too much about what's happening to them afterwards, selling your used underwear and hosiery to fetishists can bring in a little extra income at £10+ per pair. Money Magpie has an article with all the basic info. (And, while we're on the topic, you can recycle your old vibrators with Ann Summers, Love Honey, and Sex Toys UK.)
All Creatures Great and Small in Llanfrechfa are always in need of old bedding and towels for the animals.
You can take unwanted glasses, cases and contact lenses to Specsavers in Cwmbran, or you can get a recycling pack from Vision Aid for £5.
We all know about the drawbacks of disposable nappies. Torfaen Council will give you a £30 voucher towards your first cloth nappies, redeemable at Fill Your Pants, Little Treasures or The Nappy Lady.
Cash4Clothes. They'll take your good quality clothes, shoes, belts, handbags, etc for 50p per kg. (NB. they won't take school/work uniforms or underwear.) They've got a unit in Cwmbran, on Oldbury Road near the Stadium - full details.
There are battery collection points at Spar stores, Wilkinsons, Poundland, Superdrug and all the supermarkets.
Currys / PC World (Cwmbran) will take electrical appliances, big and small, regardless of where you bought them from.
Leftover paint is a nightmare to get rid of. But get in touch with Sabrina Cresswell who will take it off your hands to paint scenery for am-dram productions based at Llanyravon Church.
B&Q (Cwmbran) will take plastic plant pots - just wash them out first. They'll also take half full paint tins, broken tiles and slabs, wood, and leftover wallpaper.
Use Compare and Recycle to get the best deal for your old mobile phone.
Companies will pay you to recycle your used printer ink cartridges. See The Recycling Factory for more.
Never throw out genuine Lego. Music Magpie and Zapper will buy even the most generic loose Lego by the bag, and there are loads of specialist Lego traders like Brick Bin and Bricktraders who will pay to take it off your hands.
Got a puncture in your paddling pool / rubber ring / inflatable chair? Instead of binning it send it off to Wyatt and Jack who will refund your postage - or courier it for you if it's large - and turn it into cool bags and accessories. Their bouncy castle range is awesome too!
NHS Wales Informatics in Mamhilad are collecting old pens, highlighters, markers and tippex for Terracycle.
Books, Games, CDs, DVDs... In addition to donating them, you can take them to Cash4Clothes in Cwmbran for 10p per kg or sell them on to a trade-in company. They're not a get rich quick scheme by any means, but I sold my CD collection to Ziffit when I was on maternity leave and it paid the gas bill. The ones they wouldn't take turned our living room into a wall of sound...