The 21st- 27th September is National Recycling Week. This year’s theme is ‘Together We Recycle’, in recognition of the nation and the waste industry for continuing to recycle.
Recycling is more important than ever if we are to ‘build back better’ and make a positive economic recovery following the pandemic. Recycling is a fundamental part of the circular economy, enabling us to re-process our waste and reduce our impact on the environment. The challenge over the next few years is to keep as much waste as possible out of landfill or incineration and instead direct it back into use through reuse or recycling methods.
It’s up to all of us to recycle, from businesses and organisations, right down to individuals. But many of us are confused about what can and can’t be recycled through our normal curb side collection.
Let’s take a look at some of the dos and don’ts when it comes to recycling.
Cardboard & Paper
Cardboard and paper is widely recycled by local councils. Simply flatten boxes and pop into your recycling bin.
Watch out for: Cardboard containers that are lined with plastic or foil. Any cardboard that has been contaminated by food such as pizza boxes. These will need to go in your general waste bin.
Rigid plastics such as milk bottles or shampoo bottles can be recycled. Simply ensure they are clean and leave the top on.
Watch out for: Flexible plastics such as plastic bags or film. Some larger supermarkets will accept plastic bags including bread bags.
Tin, aluminium and steel cans can be recycled. Foil can also be recycled if it is clean.
Glass food containers, jars and alcohol bottles can all be recycled. Ensure they are rinsed out.
Things that can’t be recycled with your normal curb side collection:
Compostable plastics – some may be able to go in your home composter but others will need an industrial composter. Check the label on the packaging for more information.
Fast food packaging – due to food contamination
Any soiled paper or card
A good thing to remember is that materials must be clean to be recycled. Any contaminated materials such as greasy pizza boxes or food containers cannot be recycled. Also consider if the item contains more than one material. For example, cardboard containers that are lined with plastic cannot typically be recycled by most local authorities due to the difficulty in removing the thin layer of plastic from the cardboard.
What about those hard to recycle items?
Many larger supermarkets will now accept flexible plastics and plastic bags for recycling. You can also look up Terracycle to see where your local collection point is for hard to recycle items such as crisp packets or baby food pouches. You may even be able to set up your own collection point at home or at a public place such as a school or community hall.
Whilst we still have a long way to go to improve recycling rates in the UK, we can all do our part by ensuring we recycle the right materials and reduce our waste to landfill.