Games Workshop has just started a trial recycling scheme in the UK, providing recycling bins in store for customers to drop off used plastic sprues from their Warhammer kits, empty paint pots, and even old models. GW’s recycling partner TerraCycle explains the economics of the scheme, and what will happen to all that recycled Warhammer.
GW’s recycling trial isn’t the biggest news from March 2023 – that’s obviously the announcement of Warhammer 40k 10th edition – but it might be the most important, long term. Building even a modest 40k combat patrol box generates a lot of waste plastic, let alone starting a new army from a Warhammer 40k faction. We love playing games and reading Warhammer 40k books set in the ecological hellscape of the 41st millennium, but we don’t want to live in one.
According to TerraCycle, almost all waste is “technically” recyclable, but so-called “hard-to-recycle waste” is too expensive for traditional schemes, such as kerbside recycling collections by your council, to make business sense. TerraCycle’s business model involves partnering with companies that “cover the costs of transporting and processing the waste” generated by their own operations.
Terracycle doesn’t give specifics of its financial arrangement with Games Workshop, but it seems that GW is paying for the waste from its kits to be recycled.
The sprues, empty paint pots, and old models collected in Warhammer stores will be sent to TerraCycle’s ‘Materials Recovery Facility’ in the North West of England, where it will be processed. According to TerraCycle this will involve “shredding, washing, and several methods of separation” of the plastic. Once dried, it will be “compounded and pelletised into plastic granules”.
TerraCycle sells the pellets for other companies to use in manufacturing recycled plastic products. TerraCycle gives some examples of the kinds of products that can be made from recycled polystyrene: “playground equipment and garden planters… polystyrene pallets… thermal insulation for window profiles, light switches, rulers, vents, shipping containers, clothes hangers…” A strange fate for a Space Marine, though we imagine the Adeptus Mechanicus wouldn’t mind being a light switch.
The current recycling trial is operating in 28 UK Warhammer stores. GW stated in its original announcement that if successful it would attempt to expand the scheme into other territories. TerraCycle operates in 21 countries and says “we would happily support Games Workshop in investigating whether this approach is suitable in the other countries we operate in” if the UK trial is successful.