Recycle plastic milk bottle tops for charity with HS4B

Filed in Blog, Guest Posts by on March 10, 2011 6 Comments
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Ian Lambert, founder of HS4B wants your plastic tops and lids!

Ian Lambert, founder of HS4B wants your plastic tops and lids!

EDIT: 27th July 2012 – Ian is no longer collecting milk bottle tops for charity. He is still collecting other items, so please contact him for up to date details of the materials you can recycle with him for charity.

This is the article you’ve all been waiting for! Many people have asked us about recycling milk bottle tops for charity.

I’m delighted to welcome Ian Lambert to my zero waste today. Ian has an amazing personal story about financial loss and as a consequence has founded HS4B which provides advice, support and solutions for people who find themselves bankrupt.

It’s amazing sometimes, the money that we throw away, who would have thought milk bottle tops would have the potential to collectively be worth so much money……. And that’s the key isn’t it?….. collectively.

I have been saving them for nearly two years to give to my Mum who then passes them onto a friend and no doubt she passes on what she collects but after reading the article on My Zero Waste about recycling milk bottle tops, I thought a proper rethink was needed about this subject.

Millions of people in this country throw them away into the landfill and no doubt they take years to eventually rot, which as we all know is bad for the environment.

I along with several other people are in the process of launching a brand new charitable organisation called HS4B (Help & Support for Bankrupt People), the aim of which is to provide a non judgemental environment both on and offline for people that have been made bankrupt. That is not to say a person can’t use us if they are heading for bankruptcy as the information we give will hopefully make the prospective bankrupt aware of what they are about to go through.

Discrimination of any kind is supposed to be illegal, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way and bankrupts face a mass of positive discrimination that they are not ready for. To give you an example; A policeman is not allowed to be a bankrupt so they would lose their job…… could you imagine the outcry if becoming disabled or changing one’s religion whilst in a job got you fired! My God there would be total uproar in the streets. The problem with bankruptcy is that the general public don’t realise how much a bankrupt is actually discriminated against.

The people that have the lowest incomes generally pay the most which just can’t be right…… legal……. but not right. Higher interest rates, higher rent, higher mortgage and so on and it’s about time the practice was outlawed.

It actually takes very little money to get a bankrupt back on their feet again, we are not talking thousands and thousands of pounds either, once back on their feet they become a productive member of society and contribute once again to the local community as well as the government purse strings.

Imagine what could be done with the amount of free money 70 million bottle tops a day produces! Putting them altogether suddenly makes it worthwhile for a household to collect them and over a period of say a month it’s surprising how much you can collect.

Of course the really simple answer would be to put into force a law that said unless the packaging on ANY product was biodegradable, it is illegal. Do that and the problem is solved over night especially if you add in to that the company is not allowed to make non biodegradable packaging on English soil. Lets face it, it’s not rocket science and is very easy to fix. This is something the industry should have fixed for itself but like every other money making machine out there, who can be bothered to do it right when they make so much money doing it wrong.

I am going to be committed to this idea and want to get to a stage where we are collecting them throughout the country as I believe the revenue for this would be staggering. I have now extended this to other products like cans etc since first coming across this article……. Now we collect cans (the squashable kind), old wire both with plastic coating and bare wire, any metal a magnet doesn’t stick to, used postage stamps, old keys, stationary, and now we have a fundraising shop we collect anything we can re sell too. Our fundraising shop is at 114 Portland Road, Wyke, Weymouth DT4

If you would like to help us and collect your bottle tops for us then please do get in touch; we have our contact details on the site. We are in need of people to help organise and streamline this project for us and run a special group specifically for Tops and Lids so if you think you can help us we would like to hear from you. We promise you faithfully we will not stop collecting them, I have noticed that time and time again, organisations start off wanting them and then stop when they find out how little money is in it, this is very frustrating for the individuals and groups that put a lot of time and effort in so if you get involved with us we will see it through, after all we can’t do it without you. You can send us milk bottle tops, and the lids from soft drinks and bottled water. You can also send us the large caps from fabric conditioner.

Helping bankrupt people back onto their feet is a very worthwhile and cost effective exercise, the battle is half way won because they actually WANT to get off their bums and get back into society which will be easier done if we can remove the positive discrimination that comes along with bankruptcy.

To recap, items you can send to Ian for recycling; either in person at his shop in Weymouth or by posting (you need to cover postage costs yourself)

Plastic milk bottle tops
Plastic caps from fizzy drinks, soft drinks and bottled water
Large plastic caps from fabric conditioner
Printer ink cartridges
Mobile phones
Clean aluminium foil
Garden furniture
Planters and pots
Batteries of all sizes
Aluminium drinks cans
old wire both with plastic coating and bare wire
Any metal a magnet doesn’t stick to
Used postage stamps
Old keys

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (6)

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  1. What a brilliant idea and I wish you ever success. A firiend of mine went bankrupt a few years ago due to a major downturn in the local economy that really damaged her business. It hit her really hard. Good luck with the charity and to all those who you can help.

  2. Lara says:

    Wow, this spurred me on to make my first post on here! This is terrific, as you’ve said, what we’ve been waiting for. I’m pretty good with the zero waste life – a one bin bag a year type of gal. However, I’d never found a solution for plastic lids, so this has made my day. I have a question: will I be able to send any other sorts of lids: e.g.:

    the flat lids from plastic jars (like moisturiser pot lids)

    shampoo bottle lids (some of them oddly shaped), and lids from beauty products like nail polish remover bottle lids, lids from various tubes, etc

    bleach bottle lids, and lids from other cleaning product bottles

    I don’t have so many of these types of lids any more as i have switched to solid shampoo bars (and other such no waste products), as well as making or refilling my cleaning products. But I do still have a few lids left that I need to get rid of – ideally not in landfill.

    Thank you for this website by the way. It’s helped me so much.

  3. Mrs Green says:

    @[email protected]: thanks Karen; hope your friend is ok now 🙂

    @Lara: Hi Lara, so glad you’ve come out of lurkdom; I hope to see more of your comments! One bin bag a year is phenomenal – well done you!

    The challenge with sending other types of lids, is, that as you are probably aware they are all so different. For example I looked in my cupboard and found a gravy lid is unmarked, a honey lid is number 5 (PP) and a coffee jar lid is number 4 (PE) !! So at this point I would say No until Ian can sort more things out.

  4. Poppy says:

    We don’t have any lids as our council take them along with the ‘any botttle that contained a liquid’. They just ask that we remove them to stop them the bottles exploding when the bottles are bailed!!!

    If we lived nearer to Weymouth though, I would certainly use this project to recycle them and the other items that Ian lists 🙂

  5. Mrs Green says:

    @Poppy: Great that you have a solution to this Poppy and weird that some areas will take the tops and some won’t…

  6. Ian Lambert says:


    I was really touched and excited about this article from the beginning. I knew, if we could get businesses and web sites like My Zero Waste on board one at a time, it wouldn’t be long before a mountain could be moved inch by inch. I’ve had many packages through the post (more people read this thread than comment that’s for sure!), in fact parcels galore and I would like to thank everybody, both near and far for their support.

    I do have some bad news for you all though, nay, catastrophic news. We were unceremoniously evicted from the Portland Road address in the middle of May. I won’t go into the details as this thread and indeed this site is not a platform for bemoaning and would not want to offend the site owners. More details are available on our own site (MRS Green and the site owners have full permission to copy anything they see fit to).

    We were given two weeks and two days notice at the beginning of May 2012. As you all know we have been collecting the bottle tops for around four years now, both on the internet and from our community. This had resulted in the domino effect happening and more and more people and then organisations, schools and projects started collecting them for us too. We had amassed somewhere in the region of a MILLION or more (give or take a few).

    We had nowhere to go and so on the last two days anything that could be sold, was. Anything that couldn’t (to a point) was taken to my home and we filled the garage, the loft, the house it’s self and also erected a marquee in the garden and filled that too. At no point in the last 5 years have the local authority helped us in any way, not in recycling, nor emptying so much as a bin for us. On that fateful day, that heartwrenching Friday I had to make a decision. Anything that could not be sold or saved must go into the back of the dustbin lorry on the very last refuse collection that we would have. With no help from our local authority, who by the way advertise they are one of the best recycling authorities in the country and no other way out or way forward and with nowhere to go, they went in. I am so sorry. It was a heartbreaking afternoon for everyone for loads of reasons but some of us cried when one after the other massive bag upon bag of bottle tops were thrown in the bin lorry only to go straight into the land fill. I’d go as far as to say it was criminal!

    On the Monday morning I secured new premises (if the previous address listed above could be changed please MRS Green?) at 38, Saint Mary’s Street, Weymouth, Dorset, DT4 8UP. We have a decent sized ‘Charity’ Shop but zero storage and zero outside or work space so even if I had known on that Friday, that I would definately have the shop on the Monday, I t may have been the same decision or even maybe we may have been able to save them by filling the garage and marquee with them instead of having to use it for the stock. That being said thousands of pounds worth of unsavable stock also went into the bin lorry, even though it was more than sellable. There was just nowhere to put it.

    Every bottle top collected for more than four years. Every bottle top that was sent to us through the post, costing the sender money, Every bottle top collected by the local community, pensioners, schools, churches and more, Gone! I feel so bad even writing this now. There really was nothing I could do. I tried what I thought was my best, we all did. Obviously I think about whether I could have done better because there should have, must have been a way. Unfortunately the recyclers don’t collect and we had neither the money or the facility to take them ourselves. I really am very sorry.

    Since moving to the new premises aproximately 7/8 weeks ago now, we have come under serious fire from the councillors and some of the local businesses who are embarrassed by our being on the high street. If I didn’t mention it, the only shop available was one of the best shops/locations on the high street or in fact in town. At least Lady Luck was smiling down on us a little bit 🙂 These small minded individuals believe we lower the tone of the high street and Weymouth it’s self and are doing everything in their power to have us removed including but not limited to; Bringing the Highways Dept down on us along with the Licencing Dept to name two. Fortunately for us both Depts have told me they have no intention of victimising us and will play no part in it, but there is always more damage to be done by another Dept that may not be so fair.

    This new sorry state of affairs has led to us organising a petition (details on our home page) to get Official Recognition and Support from our local authority to fight the discrimination of a new kind, we are experiencing now. It has also led to a BBC News broadcast and other media attention. Yesterday a full page article appeared in the Dorset Echo, however instead of focussing on the actual story, they wrote the article which included comments from dignitarys such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Charity Age UK, that portrayed me as a liar, crook, cheat and worst of all ‘bogus charity’. This has tarnished the reputation of HS4B as well as my own reputation. Only two weeks ago we finally managed to make our project a fully fledged C.I.C which some of you will understand is a massive leap forward for us and the community because we are now a structured company with a registration number and everything. Not so good though when the reporter and every single department of the Council I have spoken to has no knowledge or idea of what a C.I.C is or even knew of it’s existence. Because none of them understand it, they assume “your not a proper charity so it must all be for your own pocket). In our country it seems hard or even impossible sometimes to stand up for what you believe in or stand up for the community unless it fits in with their own ethos’es of what they are about. I became an immediate lead weight to the newly formed C.I.C.

    Today I signed my resignation, my health and the stress and worry of once again being publicly labeled as a crook is too much for me and I fear far too much for my family and my relationship of 13 years. They are more important to me than my reputation or anything else. I can honestly say to you I have probably helped myself to 12 weeks wages in 5 years and that would be an over guessed statement. I set up the project with the community in mind and have fought long and hard to make a small difference to the community and make the organisation a proper and fit structure. I think I have done all I can to achieve this and see no other alternative but to go and take the bad press and negativity with me. The Echo have today agreed to investigate and print a retraction but as we all know in instances like this, the damage has already been done. Takings at the shop nose dived overnight. Maybe now the project can move forward and I know already it has a better man than I at it’s helm, My Son Harrie.

    I am so sorry I have let you all down, I want a better word than sorry but can’t find it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for coupling HS4B with your caring of the Community and the Environment.

    Kindest regards and much Respect
    Ian Lambert
    (Founder and ex Managing Director HS4B C.I.C)

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