A volunteer recycling initiative in Kent, which is helping to protect the environment and save lives by supporting Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex, has stopped more than a million plastic coffee pods going to landfill or incineration.
Two years ago, Adam Hunter, aged 36 and a serving Police Officer, set out on a mission to see how he could recycle coffee pods which has now seen him raise more than £12,000 for the Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex charity.
While discussing with his partner what they did with their spent coffee pods, he wondered whether they could be collected and recycled to avoid the plastic and foil simply going for landfill or incineration or worse ending up in the ocean.
Having tracked down Terracycle, the leader in the collection, recycling, reuse and repurposing of post-consumer waste, Adam started a small-scale recycling initiative in Kent between him and a few neighbours who also had these machines.
Today, he has recruited 20 other volunteers and has recycled more than 1.3 million coffee pods. The public can now drop off their used coffee pods at collection boxes located at superstores when going to buy new pods, or leave them in popular public places, such as swimming pools and railway stations.
From his first location, the village Post Office, Adam’s team of coffee pod recyclers now collect from 15 locations, from Maidstone to Medway to Thanet, with all the pods ending up crated at Adam’s garage in Ashford.
Recently they collected and dispatched more than 50,000 pods to Terracycle in just one week.
Commenting on the project’s success, Adam Hunter said: “As a blue light first responder I see first-hand why having an Air Ambulance is important. I often get called to road traffic accidents and stabbings and wanted to help raise money for the work done every day by its doctors and paramedics.
“Most people don’t realise that the air ambulance is a charity, and not part of the NHS. Until I got involved I didn’t appreciate that they rely almost entirely on donations, and people fundraising for them.
“Ironically, I don’t drink coffee, but I do know that every coffee pod recycled can save lives and our little, but growing, team of recyclers wanted to play our part in supporting the Air Ambulance’s work.”
Lynne Harris, Head of Income Generation, Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex, said: “Adam and his team epitomise the selfless spirit of volunteering that we see across our region, without which we wouldn’t be able to operate as we do.
“It costs more than £11.4million each year to fund our life-saving work and every pound raised makes a difference. Thanks to the commitment of Adam and his team, the £12,000 raised could fund approximately 100 units of blood used to treat life threatening injuries at the scene and on the way to hospital.”
The pods are collected on a regular basis and taken for recycling, with Terracycle separating out any coffee residue for composting, and the plastic and foil material is melted and then pelletised.
The recycled pellet material is used to make products such as composite lumber, fence posts or outdoor furniture including benches and picnic tables.
People interested in joining the coffee pod recycling team or finding out more info on how to recycle their pods should contact Adam via: firstname.lastname@example.org or search ‘charity coffee pod & crisp packet recycling’ on Facebook.