Tue 18 Jul 2023
IntroductionRecycling is more important than ever, and as responsible humans, it is our duty to take action and reduce the impact of our waste on the environment. Recycling figures from Defra's 2021 Recycling Survey show that the UK recycles 44.6% of its waste. Wales actually surpasses this at 56.7% (Well done Wales!) This puts us in 8th position in Europe so there is still work to be done. See EuroStat for the latest data on "European" countries.
We all know how important it is to recycle, which materials go in which bins and what bin day it is by checking the BMBC's Bin Day Checker or Kirklees's Bin Day Checker... But let's try and fill in some knowledge gaps by showing you these recycling tips and tricks!
The Borough of Barnsley came in at 91st out of all the boroughs in England (recycling an average of 54.5% of total recyclable waste when the last study was conducted in 2021) and Kirklees came in at 41.53% (Source). So there's room for improvement, everybody!
How to Recycle Household Waste *Properly*
RULE NUMBER ONE - If you are using your plastic bags to store recycling waste such as tin cans and throw that bag in the recycling bin... STOP! You are wasting your time and causing more of a burden than good!
Recycling Plastic Bags
Plastic bags more often than not get thrown into landfill by recycling centre workers... even if they're full of recyclable material! Plus, if you're using plastic bags to throw away rubbish, you're wasting money as plastic bags in supermarkets can cost anything from 15p to 30p each these days.
The best way to recycle plastic bags is obviously to try and use them and not throw them away! However, if a plastic bag becomes unusable, get into the habit of recycling plastic bags separately. It's best to use dedicated plastic bag recycling points found in places like local supermarkets so they are recycled properly.
Plastic bags are one of the most dangerous recyclable waste items there are due to the danger they present to wildlife and the time it takes for a plastic bag to decay (which is 20 years by the way!!!)
Recycling Paper and CardboardIt's recommended not to shred paper (which isn't confidential!) As it's harder to recycle paper that has been shredded. It's also recommended to make sure the paper isn't exposed to the elements as water actually breaks down the organic matter in paper making it unrecyclable. And remember, cardboard should always have staples and sellotape removed before recycling it as it takes longer for recycling plant workers to remove it for you and most probably they will just discard it anyway if there are any plastics left on the cardboard. Most wrapping paper is recyclable. However, any wrapping paper with glitter, laminated material or with sellotape left on is not recyclable. If your paper isn't labelled as recycle-safe, try the scrunch test as a rule of thumb... If you're able to scrunch up a piece of wrapping paper that stays scrunched up, it's likely safe to recycle.
Sorters are now able to separate paper envelopes from the plastic windows so you are able to throw your paper envelopes with plastic windows in the paper recycling bin in the UK. Technology, eh?
Recycling Enveloped with plastic windows
Recycling Takeaway Boxes and PaperIt's a lesser-known fact that trying to recycle your takeaway packaging can actually cause more harm than good. If there are any deposits of food or heavy amounts of grease on your takeaway packaging and you try to recycle it, it will actually contaminate everything else in the bath of recycling products and should therefore be discarded as general waste. If there are slight signs of grease then it's good to go!
Plastic BottlesOne of the most helpful ways to recycle bottles is to squash the air out, and then place the lid back on. This way there is neither water nor air inside. Plastic bottle lids used to have to be recycled separately but they can now be recycled at the same time as plastic bottles. If plastic bottle lids are separated now, they are more likely to be discarded to general waste when screening at recycling plants.
Items we don't have a Recycling Bin for...There are some items we don't have recycling bins for. Here's a list of such items and what to do with them...
Recycling Lithium Ion Batteries
This is a MASSIVE problem with waste management and we can't stress enough the importance of NOT putting these in general waste or recycling bins. Please recycle at designated places. You can find a full list of places to dispose of your batteries on this website - Recycling Locator | Recycle Now
Here are some basic pointers to remember when recycling...
General Advice when Recycling
1. Keep it clean! Avoid contamination (both the product and the workers who have to sort your "stuff" out!) By stripping anything like sellotape from wrapping paper and food deposits from things like yoghurt pots.
2. Reuse as much as possible.
3. Use Facebook groups to sell or even give away things like old toys and clothes or donate to charities.
3. (Part 2) Even use Facebook groups to be notified when people are giving away or selling unwanted items! You'll be surprised by the great deals and even free stuff you can get! Just search "Free items in *your area*" and there will probably be a Facebook group for it. Here's an example for Penistone: Items for free in Penistone & surrounding areas
4. Stay motivated. It's easy to "not be bothered" after a long day at work but just put that little extra effort into making sure you recycle when you can.
5. Prevent making as much waste as possible!
- Take your own bags when you go shopping: this means you avoid using plastic bags unnecessarily and paying the charge.
- Plan your meals and make a list before going shopping: this will help you to avoid overbuying and buying things you don’t need.
- Buy refills: buying refills of detergents, coffee, and hand wash is more environmentally friendly and it’s usually cheaper. (By the way, check out this shop in Penistone - All is good")
- Avoid excess packaging: packaging adds cost to goods, and excess packaging is wasteful and not good for the environment. Look for unpackaged products or buy products that are packaged in recyclable material.
- Avoid disposable items: buy rechargeable batteries, low-energy light bulbs, and razors with interchangeable heads.
Here's a list of things that are non-recyclable items that you have thought were recyclable...
Things that aren't Recyclable that you may have thought were
Food waste (NOT for the green bin) although some may be suitable for the compost heap
Food-tainted items (such as: used paper plates or boxes, paper towels, or paper napkins)
Ceramics and kitchenware
Windows and mirrors
Polystyrene or styrofoam
Sporting goods equipment