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Surrey Countryside Champions – Cheryl Hankin – CTK Recycling Guildford

Andy Smith
By Andy Smith
24th January 2024

When it comes to recycling, every little bit counts. But Cheryl Hankin has been doing a lot! In the 9 years since she signed up with Terracycle, Cheryl has stopped over 4000kg of plastic going to landfill.

By creating a network with Surrey residents and other community groups, Cheryl has shown that when we work together we can make a big difference. We caught up with Cheryl to find out more about how she supports her local community with recycling.

1. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Please could you summarise who you are and what you do?

It is my pleasure. I am excited to answer your questions. I am a mum and care for my disabled daughter. In any spare time, I recycle to raise funds for a local pregnancy charity, Kicks Count and stop lots of rubbish going to landfill. I do this from my garden sheds. People drop their items to me, once I have the minimum quantities I sort and box them up and then arrange a pick up. Once the shipments are processed I get credited into my Terracycle account.

2. What is Terracycle and how did you get involved?

Terracycle are a company that specialise in recycling hard to recycle and mixed material packaging. Big companies sponsor each waste stream and decide what can be accepted in that stream. The company pays for the recycling to be done and gives a token payment for charity. The materials are separated, melted down and made into other items or used in industry.

I started 9 years ago after being inspired at a fun day by a couple of local ladies that had lost babies to stillbirth and started the charity. They were collecting biscuit wrappers to raise funds so I signed up and it expanded from there.

3. Why was it important to you to get involved?

I like to do what I can to help charity and the environment. I do litter picking when I can too. I feel like this is my job now that I have been doing it for so long. Helping charity, the planet and my mental health by doing my part is a complete win.

4. According to Zero Carbon Guildford, in 2 years the work you do stopped 1300kg of waste going to landfill! That’s amazing, how can people support you?

Yes, when I was contacted by Ben at Zero Carbon Guildford to talk about them being a drop off point for me, I had saved 1300 kg of plastic going to landfill in the previous two years. Now, in the 9 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve saved 4000 kg of plastic from landfill and raised over £4000 for charity in the process.

I have a Facebook group CTK Recycling Guildford where I have a grid list of the items I take and I keep it updated on drop off points, any changes, plus other items I pass on or know you can reuse or recycle with other organisations and groups. It’s all about networking to get more people involved. I have given talks in a couple of nurseries and schools and I have also been at Burpham Wellfest for the last four years to get the message out.


5. What else could Surrey residents be doing to stop so much waste going to landfill?

There are lots of ways to recycle your packaging now. Supermarkets are taking back most soft plastics with carrier bag recycling (I take some of these items which I get credited for) but trying not to buy plastic packaging is another way to reduce waste. Everyone is at a different point on their own recycling journey and it can seem overwhelming but just doing one or two things makes a big difference. It’s surprising how much it adds up. We don’t need a few people doing it perfectly, we need everyone doing as much as they can, even just starting with one thing helps.

6. You’ve been involved with Terracycle for 9 years, it’s a big job for one person. What keeps you going with it?

I signed up with Terracycle over 9 years ago and it is hard work, often feeling too much, but it’s my passion to raise funds to help save little lives and help the planet. It’s my way to give back and do something around my family’s needs. It has really taken off over the last few years as more people want to recycle. I do have some lovely helpers at my drop off points, my family and friends help and I get lots of offers of help from my recycling group. In 2021, I received the Mayor’s Award for my efforts which was a wonderful acknowledgment.

Image of Cheryl Hankin, who runs CTK Recycling, with the certificate for the Major's Award for service to the community which she received in 2021

7. You’ve been doing amazing work. When you’re not busy recycling what is your favourite Surrey greenspace to explore?

I love getting out walking and have been to lots of local parks, along the river and general wandering but I think Winkworth Arboretum, Wisley Gardens and a fairly recent guided walk around the North Downs have to be my favourite places to go, although not so easy pushing my daughter’s wheelchair at times.

Image of Cheryl Hankin, who runs CTK Recycling Guildford, standing in her garage surrounded by boxes of recycling