FAQs

Here are some of our most frequently asked questions. If you still cannot find an answer to your question, you can contact us.

Registration

Why do I need to register for the Pod?

Registering for the Pod gives you access to our extensive range of teaching resources and enables you to sign up to Pod campaigns. You and your students will be able to blog about your work too.

Who is eligible to register with the Pod?

To register with the Pod you must be a teacher, teaching assistant, school employee, associate or governor, community group leader Home Educator, or a local authority contact. You can also register if you are an employee of one of our sponsors.

Students and other members of the community can still view blogs, games, movies and the resources within Students. If you are a young person and you want to blog, your teacher or community group leader will give you a blog code.

Can several people from the same school register?

Yes, each user must create their own account. Register now.

I can't find my school on the Pod's registration pages, what should I do?

If you can't find your school on the Pod's registration page please try entering only the first part of your postcode. If you still can't find your school please you can use the manual registration.

I am unable to register and need some help. What should I do?

If you need help registering with the Pod, you can contact us and we will help you to register.

Account

How can I find information about my account?

All your account information is in your My Account page, which can be found at the top of any Pod page when you are logged in.

Forgotten username or password – teacher or other user

If you are a teacher, you should log in with the email address you used to register on the site.

If you have forgotten your password, click here and enter your email address to be sent a reminder.

If you're still experiencing issues with your account, please contact us.

Forgotten username or password – student

If you have forgotten your username or password, please speak to your teacher who will be able to help you.

Can I change my account information?

Yes: if you are a teacher, teaching assistant or community group leader you can edit your details in your My Account page by clicking on 'Edit account information'. Please note that you can't change your email address, as this is your username for your account. To manually change your email address, ease contact us


If you would like to change your school or group’s address please contact us

Community & Activities

How can I find a school or group's homepage?

Once logged in you can go directly to your school or group's homepage by clicking on 'My school/group', next to 'My Account' at the top of the page.

How do I run an activity on the Pod?

First go to the Teachers section and browse the resources. If you have a specific topic you are looking for, open up the filter panel using the Search/Filter button. You can search by age, topic, subject, type of resource and campaign (lesson plans associated with a particular Pod campaign i.e. Switch Off Fortnight). 

Download your resource and any related resources and run the lesson/s with your group or class. 

You can also blog about your activity. Your students can blog by entering your blog code which can be found in your My Account page.

Blog

How do teachers and community groups leaders blog?

  1. Login
  2. Go to the My Account page and click on the 'Add a blog' button.
  3. Fill in the form as instructed. You can add text blogs, image blogs and add an attachment such as a Word document.
  4. Don't forget to select which activity and/or campaign you are blogging about!

How do students blog?

Firstly, students need to register. You can invite them to do so through the My Account page. 

Students should then go to the My Account page, click 'Add a blog'. Students will then be able to enter details of their blog, and should make sure they choose the correct activity and/or campaign from the filter box. 

You will then need to moderate your students' blogs before they appear on the site. You can do this from your My Account page.

How can I moderate my students' blogs?

Go to your My Account page - any pending blog posts from your students will be in the Notifications and reminders' box. You can also moderate pending blogs from students within your school or group who have blogged using another teacher's blog code just remember to let that teacher know that's what you're doing.

Where can I find my school or group’s blogs?

If you are looking for blogs from a specific school or group you can go to the school or group’s homepage and view their blogs from there. You can search for a school or group under the map on your schools page, which you can access through My Account, or if you are looking for your school or group’s blogs, you can log in and then press the ‘My school/group’ button at the top of the page.

Campaigns

How do I sign up to a campaign?

You need to be a registered teacher, teaching assistant or community group leader, and be logged in to sign up to a campaign.

Go to the Campaigns section, select which campaign you are interested in and click on 'Take part'. Schools and groups can only sign up to a campaign once, so if someone else in your school or group has signed up to the current campaign you will not be able to sign up again. There is a maximum of one campaign pack per school/group. 

Home educators and Pod Sponsor employees are unable to sign up to campaigns, but can still participate by downloading the free resources on the Pod.

What is a campaign survey and how do I complete one?

A campaign survey allows you to measure the impact of your Switch Off Fortnight or Waste Week campaign. To complete a survey:

  • Log in
  • Go to your school or group's homepage and scroll down to the Switch Off Fortnight or Waste Week survey box
  • Collect the data for your pre-campaign survey
  • Enter the details about light/appliances left on or the amount of waste you're sending to landfill.
  • Run your campaign
  • Collect the data for your post campaign survey
  • Log in and go back to the Switch Off Fortnight or Waste Week Survey box on your school/group's homepage
  • See how much you have saved!

Please note that you can only complete a survey once for each campaign.

How do you calculate how much energy we have saved?

Fill out the survey by entering the number of appliances on, off and on standby on your first (undercover) audit. Then, after you have run an energy awareness campaign in school, run another survey and enter the results. We'll calculate the amount of energy you would save in a 24-hour period, and if you kept it up, over a year. Figures are based on typical energy consumption values for the appliances, assuming that anything left on or on standby is left like that for 1.5 hours and 195 school days in the year.

How do I get a campaign pack?

Teachers or community group leaders who sign their school up to an eligible campaign* will automatically go on the list to receive a free engagement pack. However, you need to be quick – there are a limited number available for each campaign. So sign up fast!

Please note, packs can often get lost in the school office – be sure to tell staff who cover that area that you're expecting one.

* not all campaigns will include a campaign pack. Packs are limited to one per school and are sent on a first come, first served basis.

Can I join a campaign at a different time?

Our campaigns are scheduled throughout the year and provide engaging resources to help get your whole school involved. The campaign resources can also be found at in the Teachers section, so you can access them at any time. You can take part in the campaigns when they are open and blog your progress through your account, or you can use the resources independently to run a campaign within your own school. To find out when our campaigns run, please see the calendar on the Campaigns page.

NEW Recycle to Read

What is Recycle to Read?

Recycle to Read is a ground-breaking new Pod campaign that rewards schools for recycling unwanted plastic toys and tech with books.

Why Take Part?

  • Receive book rewards for collecting items for reuse and recycling
  • Download curriculum-linked environmental education resources
  • Pupil-led social action campaign
  • Positive whole school community engagement
  • Care for the environment through waste reduction, reuse, and recycling
  • Be part of a bigger movement to help the planet
  • Help to make history! Recycle to Read is a circular economy solution for plastic toys and creating a new recycling infrastructure that didn’t exist before
  • Plus: it’s free to join in!

Why focus on plastic toys and tech?

Plastic toys and tech are not typically collected from kerbside and are hard to recycle. They can also have a negative impact on the environment if they are not disposed of correctly.

Plastic toys

Over 318 million toys are sold in the UK every year, of which the majority are manufactured from plastic or contain plastic components (Source: Statista). The problem is there is currently limited infrastructure to collect and recycle plastic toys. However, it is possible to recycle most plastic toys in the UK, which in almost all instances, is a more environmental option than landfilling or incineration.

Toys are also a compelling subject for children and families – and are ideal for demonstrating material innovation in design and technology through the material science of plastics recycling.

In addition, participating schools will be involved in creating a new infrastructure for recycling plastic toys by taking part. They’ll also be contributing valuable research into UK plastic toy recycling capacity and capability to help inform the industry how to make toys ‘recycle ready’ and create a more sustainable future.

 

Tech

The UK is currently one of the largest producers of household tech or electronic waste (e-waste) in the world. Electronics can contain toxic substances like lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and flame retardants that can leach into soil and water when dumped in landfills. All of which can pose serious risks to environmental and human health. (Source: https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/what-is-ewaste-and-what-can-we-do-about-it.html).

Electronics also contain valuable non-renewable resources including gold, silver, copper, platinum, aluminium and cobalt. This means when we dispose of them without recycling, we are throwing away precious materials.

Tech is a very valuable waste stream for reuse. However, a large amount of tech is either hoarded in homes or thrown out with household waste. It is estimated households across the UK throw away 155,000 tonnes of small electricals every year – this would be worth an estimated £17 billion if reused or recycled (Source: REPIC).

It’s estimated that 2.8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions could be saved – equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the road – if all small electricals that are currently thrown away or hoarded were returned to the economy. SOURCE: Material Focus

Two of the main barriers to people reusing or recycling tech are access to collections and concerns about how data and personal information can be safely removed from their devices. Recycle to Read overcomes these barriers by providing advice on data destruction, greater access to collections through schools and retailers using GDPR compliance service partners. What's more, schools receive free books in return!

How is Recycle to Read funded?

Recycle to Read is funded by its members from the toy industry, children’s publishing and well- known children’s brands. It is supported (in-kind) by Products of Change, Wastebuster and local authorities.

How does Recycle to Read help protect the environment?

Recycle to Read helps protect the environment by:

  • Collecting and processing resources that are hard to recycle to prevent waste
  • Reducing the amount of plastic toys and tech landfilled, dumped or incinerated
  • Promoting toy and tech, and packaging waste reduction, reuse and recycling
  • Providing industry research to help make toys ‘recycle ready’ for more efficient processing
  • Creating a circular economy for plastic toys and new recycling infrastructure
  • Increasing the circulation of toy and tech items for reuse and reducing the environmental impact of making new goods
  • Raising awareness of, and promoting local and national reuse and recycling services
  • Informing, inspiring and empowering a generation of children to be responsible consumers and adopt more sustainable lifestyle choices

Who can take part in Recycle to Read?

All mainland UK nursery, primary and junior schools registered with the Pod can take part. Schools that are not registered with the Pod can sign up for a free account here.

During the first year of the programme (academic year 2021-22) a limited number of schools will be able to take part. Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. We plan to broaden the programme to work with more schools, including secondary schools in subsequent years.

If your schools are not allocated a place on the first year of the programme, you can still join in the campaign. For instance, by using the Recycle to Read teaching resources and considering what action you can take in school, to promote toy or tech reuse and recycling through local services in your area (e.g. charity shops, council householder waste and recycling centres and retail take back services). You could also hold your own toy swap event.

Is there a cost to take part in the Recycle to Read campaign and/or collection?

No, the campaign resources and collections are provided free of charge.

How do I take part?

Sign up on the Recycle to Read campaign page and choose what type of collection you would like (e.g. toy and tech boxes or single-day collection boxes/ bags).

What campaign resources are available?

There are a range of free resources and materials available for schools, including:

  • A teachers’ guide to give you all the information that you need to run the campaign and organise your collection (if available to you) including a collection crib sheet for the school office. Plus, suggested class, eco-team, and whole school activities, such as toy, book and textiles swap days.
  • A toy and tech recycling teacher pack to provide teachers with key information about the programme’s reuse and recycling processes.
  • An introduction assembly to get pupils excited about taking part and explain how the campaign works and a celebration assembly to congratulate pupils on their achievement.
  • A parent mail to email home so families know what to collect and by when (if collections are available) and/or toy swap events you might be running.
  • Posters and flyers so pupils and families know what toys and tech can be recycled and how; where your school’s take back boxes are located and when your collection days are; and any (toy/ book) swap days your school may be holding.

How do I access the Recycle to Read education resources?

Once signed up, go into the Recycle to Read campaign page and click on the ‘View Resources’ button to see what’s available. You can also find the resources in the Teachers’ section.

What do I receive after I sign up for a collection?

You will receive an email directing you to the online campaign resources to download – including the school guide, assembly, parent mail and digital versions of the posters and flyers.

Shortly afterwards, you will receive a collection pack and a separate campaign pack in the post. The collection pack includes a flatpack toy take back box and a tech take back box, and/or the bulk containers (depending on which you have chosen or been allocated at sign up). You will receive the number of containers for bulk collections appropriate for the number of pupils. The campaign pack contains hard copies of the posters to put up around school.

What’s the difference between a toy take back box, a tech take back box and bulk collection containers?

The toy and tech take back boxes are sturdy cardboard boxes that are placed inside the school. These are designed for use as both display boxes to attract donations and inform donors of the correct items to include. They can be filled up over time or as a one-off event, if easier. We recommend all schools keep their tech boxes in the school office for security.

Bulk/ Event day collections are for schools that would prefer to hold large single day collections, including outside donation/collection points if necessary – or would like to store up larger amounts of tech for collection. Bulk/ Event day collections will be trailed with selected schools during the first year of the programme. Storage bags or boxes can be supplied to help store and protect items (including from rain for outside event day collections), until the Recycle to Read collection crew arrives. Currently bulk collections are provided for the bulk collection of tech only.

The donation points/ boxes must be supervised by an adult to ensure safe usage and that items meet acceptance criteria.

How big are the take back boxes?

The toy take back box measures 90cm (h) x43 cm (w) x 43 cm (d).

The tech take back box measures 35cm (h) x 45cm (w) x 35cm (d).

Where should we put the take back boxes?

Put the toy take back box somewhere prominent with high traffic, so children pass it regularly (e.g. in the entrance hall or a corridor). We advise storing the tech take back box somewhere secure (e.g. the school office) for security and safekeeping. If possible, still have it visible for children to see as they walk past, as a reminder of the collection. Tech items should be checked against the collection criteria by a responsible adult at the time of donation. You can use the campaign poster to write where in the school your take back boxes are located as a reminder for everybody.

What happens if we collect more than our boxes can carry?

Once the collection boxes are full, we cannot collect additional items.
Please consider managing donations in your school to avoid ‘over collecting’.
For example, you could deliver the assembly by year group and collect by year group, to assess and manage collection levels. Or you could limit the number of broken toys donated to one per pupil. If you have over-collected, we recommend taking your tech to any Curry’s store.

How do we book a collection for our Recycle to Read boxes?

Once both your collection boxes are full, or you believe you have collected as much as you think you can, they are ready to be collected.

To book a collection, login to the Pod (https://www.jointhepod.org/login), go to the Recycle to Read section of your account dashboard and follow the onscreen instructions. You will need to download, print and attach your shipping labels for your toy and tech boxes and apply them to the correct box. Please ensure that both boxes are not over-full, and that the contents and boxes themselves are secure.

IMPORTANT! Before you arrange your collection, it is required by law you complete a Waste Transfer Note before we collect the toys to be recycled – please click here to access and complete your form online (it only takes 2 minutes, please take the time to complete this now, you will be emailed a copy to keep for reference).

Do my boxes need to be collected together?

Yes please! This not only saves us on the collection cost, but also reduces the carbon produced from arranging transportation to your school.

How many collections can I book?

To give as many schools as possible a chance to take part, schools will only have one collection for both boxes at the same time per calendar year.

How big are the bulk containers?

Each bulk container measures up to 100cm (height, width and depth). They come with a flap that can be used to shield the contents from any rain during donation events, and to secure the contents during transportation.

How do single event day/ bulk collections work?

These bulk collections are designed to capture tech items from the whole school community either on a single day event or collected over time until and agreed date or volume of items has been reached. We recommend schools receive and store items inside on single event days reusing cardboard boxes or any available containers to store items ready for collection. This is primarily to protect the items from rain. However, we can provide outdoor storage containers (playground packers or boxes) for schools that would prefer to receive items outdoors.

  • Event day/ bulk collections are by invitation only until 2022. At which point schools can book a collection date with us through the Recycle to Read area on your Pod Account
    If you would like to express interest in having an event day collection, please email: contact_us@jointhepod.org
  • Once confirmed and ahead of the day, let all families know about the collection (use the parent mail provided) including where in the school and when they can donate their items, which items they can bring and how they should package them
  • For single event day collections, the morning of the collection day, your collection boxes/ available containers, or the outdoor the bulk container(s) should be placed in the school, in a location that is easy to access for families. Be careful not to block entrance ways
  • All donations being placed in your collection boxes/ containers need to be supervised by a responsible adult (your school eco-team may be able to assist, if also under supervision)
  • Items should be checked to ensure they are on the inclusions list and that they are wrapped to give them some protection (this detail is included in the campaign flyer and parent mail – it is also detailed in these FAQs)
  • The Recycle to Read collection team will collect the containers on the agreed day, and on the same day as donations are made for single event day collections, unless otherwise agreed

Our tech collectors will provide your school office with a controlled waste transfer note that will detail the total amount of each type of material they have collected for you. The school will sign a copy to keep, and the driver will take a copy away. UPS will ask for a reference name to list when they collect the packages and record this digitally (once social distancing finishes this will be a signature). I believe we can set up alerts on the UPS systems so the nominated contact for the collection can receive notifications when the parcels are collected from site and delivered to the destination.

Do I have to collect toys and tech?

Yes, you need to collect both categories for box collections but can collect tech only for single event day/ bulk collections.

What toys can we recycle?

Toys (or toy pieces) that are made up of 50% or more hard plastic. The toys need to be broken or unable to find another home (if they could be rehomed, consider swapping or giving them to charity instead).

Unfortunately, we CANNOT accept:

  • Electrical toys (e.g. no toys with batteries, charging/power cable or solar panels)
  • Toys that do not fit fully in the take back box
  • Detachable accessories or components not made of hard plastic (e.g. dolls clothes)

Please make sure you only collect the toys specified above.

What tech can we recycle?

All items must be in good working order and fall into one of the following categories:

  • Mobile/smart phones
  • Tablets
  • Laptops and game consoles (for single event day/ bulk collections only; NOT the tech take back box collections)
  • MP3 players
  • DSLR/digital cameras
  • Wireless speakers
  • Wearable tech (e.g. smart watches, fitness devices and wireless ear/headphones)

Please note the additional criteria for any tech:

  • Items must be manufactured after 1st January 2009 - if in doubt please don’t donate via Recycle to Read
  • Removable batteries (e.g. AA and AAA) must be removed before donation. Built-in batteries (e.g. some MP3 players) or batteries that are integral to the item design (e.g. removable mobile phone batteries) are fine to donate and should be left in the item
  • Personal data should be removed from devices before they are donated (see below) although they will be data wiped as part of the process
  • Ensure that devices are not locked/pin-protected
  • ONLY include charging cables and other peripherals if they are essential to the item (e.g. charging docks for wirelessly charged devices). We don’t want wired earphones or cables that can be used with other devices (e.g. phone charging cables)
  • User manuals can be included but aren’t essential – if including, please wrap or put with the device into a plastic carrier bag

Does personal data need to be wiped from tech before donation?

Yes please – here's how:

  1. Back up data (don’t lose data you want to keep!)
  2. Sign out of any accounts on the device (while in the settings menus, please remember to remove device/screen locks or they may not be reusable)
  3. Factory reset the device (the manufacture will have instructions on how to do this) and remove your SIM and any data cards

The latest detailed consumers guidance for data destruction can be found at: https://www.recycleyourelectricals.org.uk/faq/how-do-i-delete-my-data/ 

We work with accredited partners to manage residual data wiping of all items donated to the programme. However, devices found to contain personal data due to the above advice not being followed will be recycled to ensure the data is destroyed, rather than be sold for reuse.

Recycling tech has a net cost associated with the processing; therefore, your school won't receive any reward points for these items. Working tech items of the requested types/categories that have been data wiped before donation (if applicable) offer the most opportunity to create value for your school when sold for reuse - which is why only these items are accepted in Recycle to Read collections.

How should tech be packaged?

As we want to reuse the tech collected, rather than recycling it (which has a cost), it needs to be in working order and in good condition. So protecting the tech to keep it safe during transit is of vital importance. Your school may receive less or no reward points for tech that arrives at our reuse partners’ sites damaged.

Each item of tech needs to be wrapped and secured as an individual package in either:

  • Two layers of flat plastic film (e.g. reuse plastic bags)
  • 1- 2 layers of bubble wrap
  • A padded envelope or similar packaging for flat items (e.g. smartphones and tablets)
  • Original product packaging (in single day collections only)

What happens to the toys we collect?

The toys are sent to a specialist UK-based recycler, where they are first shredded, then metals and other non-plastics are removed (most of these materials are recycled). Next, the materials buoyancy is used to separate the plastic fragments by their density into different types. This way, most of the toy plastics can be sorted to 98% purity and are ready to be used for new products in the UK and Europe. A small amount may need to be sent to other specialist recyclers (e.g. PVC plastic) for further specialist processing.

What happens to the tech items we collect?

Once your tech has been collected, it’s taken to a specialist UK reuse and recycling partner. They inspect and test each item to make sure it is suitable for reuse (this is why any pins/locks on your device should be removed first) and that any personal data has been removed. Those items that are in working order then enter the reuse market and are sold direct to consumers in the UK or trusted UK second-hand goods retailers.

Any items that can’t be reused are recycled to extract any reusable precious metals.

When do we find out how much we collected or how many reward points we have earned?

Collection data and recycling rewards points for book redemption are uploaded to the Recycle to Read school’s accounts within 30 days of a collection.

Please note: If collection data and recycling reward points are due to be uploaded on a day that is not a business working day, they will be uploaded on the next business day.

How do we get our free books?

Schools earn recycling reward points for the reuse value of the tech they collect. Recycling Reward Points earned will be given as book ‘Voucher Codes’ that can be used as discount or credit vouchers to buy books from the Collins Recycle to Read collection (www.collins.co.uk/recycletoread). There are hundreds of books to choose from that have also been discounted by 30% to help your rewards go further.

After your collection has taken place, we’ll receive data on the weight (kgs) of toys you have collected, and the value of the tech you’ve collected. This is uploaded to your My Account section on the Pod within 30 days of your collection. You can then exchange your recycling reward points for a voucher code to redeem against books on our partner site (www.collins.co.uk/recycletoread). 

Schools must redeem their total points balance when exchanging points for their voucher code and their voucher code must be spent in full at the point of purchase. If your basket total is below the value of the voucher code, add more items to use your voucher code in full; we cannot offer any change for unused voucher code(s).

Note: Voucher Codes can only be redeemed once. Wastebuster cannot be held responsible for the redemption of lost Voucher Codes.

What is the value of the items I’m collecting?

Tech

The more tech you supply that can be reused, the more points you will earn.

The reward value achieved for different tech items depends on a range of factors:

  • Age (the older the items, the less reuse value; items made before 1st Jan 2009 must be recycled as they are more likely to contain hazardous materials)
  • Condition (damage to items may reduce sale value or prevent reuse)
  • Reuse market demand / value (influenced by the above and changes in trends/fashions)

Unfortunately, tech items donated for reuse that can’t reused will not earn reward points for schools. This is because the recycling value of the materials they contain are worth less than the cost to process items for recycling, in most cases.

The categories of working tech items accepted for reuse by Recycle to Read, have been chosen to help ensure that each item will result in a net profit if they meet the Recycle to Read collection criteria.

Toys


The toys are recycled, rather than reused, so unfortunately there isn’t a value attributed to them. It’s why we ONLY want your broken or unwanted plastic toys. Toys that are still in working order should be reused wherever possible instead (e.g. swapped, donated to charity shops, given to friends or family).

How is the value of recycling reward points calculated?

The Recycling Rewards value is the net revenue generated from the tech collected by each school for reuse, with the collection and processing costs for reuse and recycling deducted. If the collection contains items with zero value, or entirely incorrect items not on the inclusions list provided, the school will receive no Recycling Rewards. In this instance the cost of collection and processing is covered by the Recycle to Read programme. However, the school may be prohibited from taking part in subsequent collections, at the discretion of Wastebuster.

Recycling reward points only have a credit value for voucher code redemption via the Recycle to Read programme and can’t be exchanged for cash.

What books are available?

There is a dedicated range of fiction and non-fiction books available for schools – many of which have been discounted especially for Recycle to Read. Visit our partner site to see the full range (www.collins.co.uk).

Do recycling reward points expire?

Yes - any reward points earned must be spent within three months of the following academic year to that which the collection was held in.