Recycling – it’s not always as simple as it sounds! Recycling seems like a fantastic, easy way to be more conscious, as it means you can get use out of something and then pop it in a box and it’ll get taken away to be reused another way. But this isn’t always the case, and there’s a lot of misinformation when it comes to recycling, plus information that just isn’t communicated well, and recycling can also vary depending on where you live and what your local council has set up! So we’ve put together an introductory guide to clear up some of the facts about recycling…
Did you know that takeaway pizza boxes can’t be recycled? I didn’t! Once the cardboard has become greasy it affects the quality of the cardboard and must be thrown in the bin! This is because the paper fibres won’t be able to be separated from the oils during the pulping process.
Despite being a Green constituency, did you know that Brighton has one of the lowest recycling rates in the country? It only 24.6%, compared to the top area of South Oxfordshire at 66.6%. Why is Brighton so low? Have you discussed recycling with any of your friends in the next street? I can guarantee their recycling rules are completely different to yours. With around 14 different methods and rules over recycling there is no wonder that Brighton is confused and people often give up – and your area may be the same.
Some streets have no glass recycling, for example. Others are told to separate every form of recycling, and if there’s an accidental glass bottle in your tins box then be prepared for the tape of doom! This tape is issued by recycling vans, and they’ll cover your box with it to remind you not to mix, and won’t take your recycling that week, so you’ll have to wait for the colleciton, by that point you’ve stacked up such a pile that you might be tempted to throw it all in the bin! The collection rate of recyling might also affect rates. For example, in Brighton, recycling boxes are collected every two week, but in Oxfordshire they’re collected every week. So in Brighton, people might fill up their boxes and then put any extra recycling into the bins while they wait for collection.
However there are more rules on recycling than many of us realise, and there’s a lot we can do to ensure that everything that we possibly can will get recycled. If it there’s too much in the recycling that is not accepted- it will all go to landfill. Not only does this take up precious space and looks and smells like hell itself, it is also causing all kinds of pollution into the atmosphere as the waste material rots. Additionally, with organic material such as food waste, this is compacted down, removing the oxygen, and eventually this causes an anaerobic process which will release methane – a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than CO2.
Top tips on how to recycle like a pro:
#1: Scrape out any food remains/pour away excess liquid. Rinse the container (use your washing-up water). Don’t put i in the dishwasher – no need to waste resources to achieve an unnecessary level of cleanliness!
#2: If you’re concerned about the amount of food packaging in your recycling bin, you have the power as a consumer. You can buy fruit and vegetables loose, rather than in plastic bags or packaging.
#3: Crush metal cans. Squeeze plastic bottles flat to expel as much air as possible and save space.
#4: Glass must be kept separate. If glass gets mixed with the other items then it will smash into shards, which makes recycling paper very difficult, having financial and environmental implications as well as possibly damaging the machinery in the sorting facility.
#5: Leave your glass items out in a recycling box, or in a separate carrier bag
#6: Remove plastic lids from bottles – they have different melting points and too many of them will contaminate the load.
#7: Remove paper clips, staples and plastic envelope windows from paper. Also remove excessive amounts of tape and labelling from cardboard packaging.
#8: Take batteries and other electronics to recycling centres or supermarkets that collect them.
#9: Compost all green waste. If you don’t have a compost bin or food caddy check out if there are any local community compost bins.
#10: For household items/clothing/usable electricals – take these to charity shops as they can be reused and re-loved.
#11: Look carefully at food packaging! For example, lots of things come in plastic pots or tubs with a film lid, and often the tub can be recycled by the film can’t. Or if it’s cardboard packaging with a plastic window, chances are that window part can’t be recycled so it has to be separated from the box!
#12: For individual items refer to: https://www.recyclenow.com/what-to-do-with – for example blister packs for tablets and pills can’t be recycled!