Ok let’s be honest, organising your rubbish is not the chore you do with delight? Having separate waste bins in the kitchen or around the house takes up precious space.
In a busy household, who has the time to make sure the kids don’t put paper or cardboard in the wrong bin? When cooking, you can be so focused on the task in hand that you don’t realise you discarded the can into general waste before rinsing and recycling.
Then who can be bothered to carry or transport all their glass to a recycling centre? It is so much easier to dump it into your general waste bin and not worry about it. Once you have made the journey in a car, does it cancel out any good environmental impact of recycling?
With these 10 recycling facts, we hope to inspire some extra motivation to be more waste aware. There are some depressing statistics about plastic waste but do not get disheartened.
Every bit of paper, glass, metal and sometimes plastic you put in your recycling bin has a chance to be used again.
Fact 1 – It Takes 70% Less Energy To Recycle Paper Than It Does To Make It New From Raw Materials
In the UK we recycle about 80% of our paper. If every person in the UK recycled just 10% more paper, we would save approximately 5 million trees each year.
This fact means we need to prioritise paper recycling. The easiest way to recycle paper is at your domestic kerbside collection.
Some councils have different requirements for the paper types they process. For example, some have sorting machines that can handle shredded paper, and some can’t.
The website Recycle Now has a postcode checking tool so you can find out what your local council accepts
Fact 2 – By Recycling Your Daily Newspaper, You Can Save Your Own Body Weight In Paper In Just One Year
Stop being lazy and throwing away that newspaper into general waste. Keep it until you have found a recycling bin or ask your newsagent if they will recycle it for you?
Focus on the big wins to change your behaviour, the newspaper and cardboard. When you recycle, make a mental note of what a good thing you are doing to encourage yourself into a new habit.
Do not worry about the small stuff. Paper receipts and sticky notes cannot be recycled due to the adhesive or plastic coating. If you want, you can refuse paper receipts in shops and use scrap paper instead of sticky notes.
Fact 3 – Only 27% Of Batteries Are Recycled In The UK, Resulting In More Than 20,000 Tonnes Of Battery Waste Straight To The Landfill
All batteries can be recycled. When batteries end up in landfill, they can start to leak and spread environmental damaging chemicals.
The battery recycling laws of 2010 state that all retailers that sell batteries should have collection bins for used batteries. Have a look if your local supermarket has one and ask if not, why not?
Some local councils offer a used battery collection service, so it’s worth checking if yours does.
Fact 4 – Not All The Waste You Put In Your Recycling Will Be Recycled
Yup, it is time we stopped pretending if we put something in the recycling bin, it will go on to live another life.
Fact 5 – Household Recycling Requires Sorting At A Vast Scale
The waste we put in our recycling bins needs to be checked and sorted. We can help this process by being more careful about what we add to the recycling bin.
When sorting recycling any waste found that cannot be recycled could contaminate other recyclable products and even more waste must go to landfill.
It is also helpful to rinse any items you recycle to help prevent contamination.
Fact 6 – 55% Of All Our Plastic Waste Ends Up In Landfills, Or Indeed, The Ocean
Virtually all plastics can be recycled, but many are not because the process is expensive, complicated and the resulting product is of lower quality than what you put in.
Black plastic trays are difficult for recycling centres to identify with scanners, so these normally end up in landfill.
Knowing what plastic, you can recycle can be very confusing. Focus on what your local council will accept and aim to reduce the plastic you use.
Fact 7 – 75% Of The Aluminium Ever Made Is Still In Production Today
Aluminium is easy to recycle it take 95% less energy to recycle aluminium cans than it does to make new ones.
Focus on recycling all the metal your household uses as steel cans are also recyclable. If you recycle only one type of material, make it metal!
72% of the aluminium cans in the UK are recycled, but around £36 million of aluminium is sent to landfill each year.
Fact 8 – The UK Recycles Only Around 50% Of Its Glass
Despite glass being 100% recyclable, a low 50% recycle rate in the UK is one of our most frustrating facts.
28 billion glass bottles and jars end up in landfill every year, which is the equivalent to the Empire State Building filling up every three weeks.
The low recycling levels of glass could be to do with the fact that some councils do not offer kerbside collections.
Glass puts a tremendous strain on landfills so rethink your behaviour and if you can’t recycle the glass, maybe don’t buy the product!?
Fact 9 – Before You Throw It into General Waste Check Terracyle
Terracyle is a free recycling programme funded by brands, manufacturers, and retailers to help you collect and recycle your hard-to-recycle waste
Schools, Churches, and business can set themselves up as collection sites. This means that items from bread bags to biros can be recycled
Fact 10 – There Is Hope
All these facts can feel a bit depressing when we start to realise how much we don’t or can’t recycle in the UK.
However, there is hope. Emerging science and technology is developing to tackle the problem of recycling waste. From robots to help the sorting process to chemicals that break down plastic waste easily.
The zero-waste shop development continues to grow in popularity, and the Loop programme of reusable grocery containers is due to be brought to the UK by Tesco in 2020.
Where Do You Start?
These facts show that you should focus on paper, aluminium, and glass recycling. Encourage your household where possible by setting up an easy to access recycling box.
Adding to the recycling box could become a game or challenge for the kids to see who can recycle the most in a week.
Try not to worry about plastic. There has been so much focus on plastic in the past few years that it feels like we have lost sight of the materials that are loads easier to recycle.
If you can, try to use less plastic with glass and zero waste alternatives.
Let us know what you think and try this quick recycling quiz by the BBC and let us know how you get on https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49280709