A RETIREE has made her home a recycling collection point for pet owners and crisps lovers in the hope of helping the environment and protecting her nearby river.

Margaret Cummings, a retired Glan Clwyd Hospital nurse from St Asaph, said the amount of litter in the city has increased during the 20 years she has lived there.

“I have always been conservation minded, having been raised in the countryside in the Midlands, but I didn’t see as much rubbish then as I do now,” she said.

“We need a whole different attitude to the way we use and recycle plastic.”

Crisp packets are a particular problem, Mrs Cummings said, and are contributing to councils “using too much landfill”.

But the pensioner and grandmother, who is a member of the River Elwy Environmental Group, has decided to help tackle the problem by becoming a volunteer for the specialist recycling scheme by TerraCycle, the innovative waste management company which recycles plastics that county councils across the UK are currently unable to.

Mrs Cummings has three boxes to collect crisp packets, pet and baby food pouches, which cannot be recycled in Denbighshire, from neighbours and residents in her community who are keen to reduce their black bin waste.

She will then deliver the items in bulk to TerraCycle’s drop-off point on the Wirral, free of charge. The scheme even gives a small cash surplus in return, which Mrs Cummings will donate to Wales Air Ambulance.

She now hopes that more and more people will knock on her door with the plastics.

“Littering and black bin waste are all a part of the same problem. Even when litter is not recycled it ends up in black bins and still goes to landfill.

“I’m really pleased that TerraCycle is recycling crisp packets because they are so popular and, at the moment, they are just ending up in the ocean.

“The plastic collection has already made a difference as my daughter and I helped with a North Wales Wildlife Trust beach clean on Ynys Mon, Anglesey and the packets are in my boxes.”

Mrs Cummings said she regularly finds litter dumped in the River Elwy, which is a short walk from her home. Aquatic life in the river includes trout, eels, cormorant, ducks, swans and water voles.

“People pop to the shop to get a snack or buy a drink and throw it away wherever they happen to be, by the river or in their cars," she said.

“There is a lot left in the river after bank holidays.

"I don’t see why the council should have to clear it up.

“People don’t realise that the river is only seven miles from the sea. Most if not all creatures have plastic in their system now.

“There are crisp packets found on beaches that are 50 years old.”

However, Mrs Cummings is optimistic that habits can change and that residents will join the scheme.

She said: “People are becoming more environmentally aware and the more we can recycle the better.

“I’m hoping it gets to the point where I have to empty the boxes often.”

To contact Mrs Cummings about the recycling scheme, call 01745 584396 or email mlake95768@gmail.com.