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New Brighton children learn the significance of recycling by collecting toothbrushes

Zion Dayal
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New Brighton play centre toothbrush recycling box  Zion Dayal

The children at New Brighton Playcentre are collecting their toothbrushes and yoghurt cartons for recycling.

The efforts are part of TerraCycle's Oral Care Recycling programme, teaching minors the importance of recycling and limiting the rubbish that goes into the ocean. The reason for recycling toothbrushes in particular, is that they are a heavy dense floatable plastic. 

TerraCycle operates several free recycling programmes that help New Zealanders recycle hard-to-recycle waste; such as coffee capsules, toothbrushes and yoghurt pouches.

At the New Brighton Playcentre, they collect oral care products. The idea came from the treasurer of the play centre Julie Donaldson. She saw a Facebook post on the effects of rubbish and in particular, how rubbish affects marine wildlife. 

Once the oral products from the centre are collected up, they are then sent to TerraCycle. From there they shred the products down into raw materials to create garden beds, park benches, and playgrounds. The programme is also set up to redirect non-recyclable waste from landfills.  

Donaldson said she asked around fellow play centre parents if the initiative was worth starting. Everyone was on board and she set up a collection box at the gate. 

"We have sent in over 550 oral care products for recycling, it is going very well," Donaldson said.

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Mayan Walker and Millie Will holding their oral care products ready for recycling Zion Dayal

Donaldson also said that if all the products weigh over a kilogram, Terracycle refund 2 cents per item. The play centre can send their products for free; Teracycle pay for it and all the New Brighton Playcentre have to do is send it off.

TerraCycle has reported that their recycling programmes throughout New Zealand and Australia have recycled over 4 billion pieces of waste and made over US$21 million dollars for schools. 

Julie Donaldson says it is really easy for schools to sign up and it definitely makes a difference to the earth and around the community. 

“One of the children said that seeing plastic bags in the ocean made them think dolphins will eat them and die, this is what inspired the kids to pick up rubbish, and reduce, re-use and recycle what we have,” Donaldson said. 


New Brighton Playcentre recycling