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Recycling FAQ's

Recycling FAQ’s

Find out Everything you need to know with our Recycling FAQ’s

Find out everything you need to know with our Recycling FAQ’s.

What is recycling?

Recycling is the collection of certain materials that would otherwise be thrown away and turning them into new products. Recycling benefits the environment, economy and your community.

Why should we recycle?

Recycling helps to protect the environment by reducing the need for extracting, refining and processing raw materials to create new material creating air and water pollution. In addition to recycling saving energy, it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions which helps to tackle climate change. When our rubbish goes to landfill it ends up in the soil and our water sources which can also end up in our food, rivers and the sea. Chlorinated plastic releases harmful chemicals into the soil, which ends up in groundwater, other surrounding water sources and the world’s ecosystem. This is causing serious harm to the species (including us) that drink the water and the plastic that is ending up in the sea is damaging our ecosystem and is killing the creatures and animals living in it.

What are the cons of recycling?

  • Reduces energy usage
  • Reduces the consumption of new raw materials
  • Reduces air pollution
  • Reduces water pollution which comes from landfilling which is when our waste is collected and buried in the ground
  • Reduces greenhouse gases emissions
  • Preserving our rainforests

What will happen if we stop recycling?

If everyone stops recycling the excess rubbish and packaging we are producing will be buried in the ground (landfill), as well as these already filling up around the UK and the world when chlorinated plastic that is buried releases harmful chemicals into the soil, ending up in groundwater, other surrounding water sources and the world’s ecosystem. This is causing serious harm to the species (including us) that drink the water and eat the food that is grown in the soil and the plastic that is ending up in the sea is damaging our ecosystem and is killing the creatures and animals living in it.

The focus on recycling in the last few years has improved, however, we still need to do more and quickly.

What would happen if no one recycled?

Our soil, air and water will become more and more polluted as the harmful chemicals from recyclable products seep into them and we will quickly end up with no landfill space.

What will happen if people don’t recycle?

The first impact of not recycling is pollution to the air that we breathe, the food that we eat and the water we drink. Every species of plant and animal in the world has an impact and a reason for being on our ecosystem and as these are damaged, killed or become extinct there is an impact.

We now know through many studies that if enough of these chemicals build-up and enter our ecosystem, scarily it can cause cancer.

Is recycling the best resolution for us?

Recycling helps but it isn’t the answer to the problems we are facing, the most effective way to reduce waste and protect our ecosystem is to not create it in the first place. The world’s packaging has gone mad and more and more companies now are finding new and better environmentally friendly ways of packing the products that we buy.

How do what I can recycle locally and what will be collected each week?

Your local council website will detail what you can and cannot recycle and it is really important that every one of us checks this before they add anything to their recyclable waste. Not only will you find out what you can’t recycle each week you will also be surprised at what you can. It will also start you thinking about what other options you can consider, for example; milk delivery to your home in recyclable and reusable glass bottles, vegetables not packaged in plastic, no use of plastic bags, don’t use cling film but instead store food in reusable Tupperware. The more you get into it the more you will start to try different things. There is still so much soft plastic used for packaging and you can use this by creating your own eco-brick, check out how you can do this here.

Why is it important to only put items that can be recycled in the recycling bin?

If you put items into the recycling bin that are not recyclable it can cause damage to the recycling machines as well as contaminate the recycling stream as well as costing more for the items to be sorted. This is why it is really important to understand from your local council which items can be put out each week. There are some items that won’t be collected by your recycling collection, however, they can be accepted at retail locations as an example there are drop off points for clean soft plastic bags at John Lewis and Sainsbury’s or most supermarkets and shops that sell batteries will have collection bins for used batteries.

Some local councils need you to sort your recyclable products into different bags and bins, however, some are happy for it all to go into one and they will sort it so it’s always a good idea to check this.

Recycling FAQ'sWhat can you recycle?

These are the general rules for recycling however you should always check this with your own local council collection service and it will be detailed on their website.

  • Clean and dry card, cardboard, unshredded paper, newspaper, magazines, junk mail, telephone directories and envelopes
  • Clean and empty glass containers, glass bottles and jars (take metal lids off and put them loose in your recycling)
  • Clean and empty food and drink cartons including Tetra Pak type food and drink cartons (squash and keep plastic lids on)
  • Clean and empty metal containers, tins and cans
  • Clean and empty plastic containers, plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays (a lot of councils do not accept the lids from plastic containers but these can be sent to a lot of companies who will use them, as an example ‘Lush’)
  • Small electrical items
  • Food waste in a separate food waste bin
  • Garden waste in a separate garden waste bin which you normally have to pay an annual fee for to be collected

What can you not recycle?

  • Oil
  • Paint
  • Flammable products
  • Soft plastics like carrier bags, polystyrene or cling film
  • Wood, building or DIY materials, including paint
  • Metals (other than cans)
  • Nappies including used nappies
  • Broken glass or Pyrex glass
  • Light bulbs
  • Batteries
  • Aerosol cans

Again this isn’t an exhaustive list so always check if you are not sure before you pout it into your recycling bin.

How are batteries recycled?

Batteries contain a range of metals which, when extracted, can be reused as secondary raw materials. Most supermarkets and shops that sell batteries will have collection bins for used batteries.

Where can I take my old batteries?

Most supermarkets and shops that sell batteries will have collection bins for used batteries.

What plastic can’t you recycle?

  • Soft plastic and plastic bags (See our article on EcoBricks here and how you can recycle your soft plastic into an eco-brick)
  • Straws are not recyclable (see the reusable straw options that we offer for businesses and home use
  • Coffee Cups
  • Keyboards

What are the health effects of plastic waste?

There has been a lot of research done over the last few years about the health impacts of plastic and it has been linked to disrupting hormonal growth and carcinogens, however, there is no proof available as yet.

What is BPA in plastic products?

BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles. BPA makes a product more flexible, durable, and transparent.”

Is BPA harmful?

BPA is a chemical that is in many hard plastics that we use every day. Higher doses have been linked to infertility and other health problems such as male impotence, heart disease and other conditions, however, there is nothing proven as yet. This is why BPA free drinking bottles are now very popular as well as them being BPA free they are also reusable meaning the plastic does not get into our ecosystem.

Can coffee cups be recycled?

Coffee cups are much like the packaging for snacks and cereal bars. Both are multi-layered, with each layer serving a particular purpose, for example; the wax layer for the label and the aluminium layer to prevent external heat from altering the chemical composition of the item before you purchase it or to keep it hot whilst you are drinking it.

This multi-layer makes it very difficult to recycle and this is why more and more coffee outlets are encouraging their customers to bring their own reusable coffee cups in and they will get money off their coffee or hot drink purchase.

What can you do to reduce the amount of plastic you use in your home?

  • Recycle as much as you can in your weekly recycling collection
  • Use your soft plastic to make Ecobrinks
  • Don’t just throw things away, try and mend or salvage them first
  • Go to charity shops to buy clothes and furniture that you can upcycle (there are many bargains to be had)
  • Take your old clothes to a charity shop or donate them to a charity
  • Sell as much as you can on the free selling sites like GumTree. Clothes, furniture, garden equipment, the list really is endless and you will be surprised what people will buy. If they don’t sell then readvertise them as free so that someone else gets the benefits from them and new items don’t have to be made
  • Take unwanted items to your local recycling centre for them to sell on
  • Try having your milk delivered to your door in reusable glass bottles
  • Don’t buy water in plastic bottles, buy yourself a BPA free reusable water bottle
  • Only buy loose vegetables and food items that can be put into recyclable paper bags if needed
  • Have a car boot sale to get rid of any unwanted items
  • Collect your plastic lids and find a company that you can send them to regularly who will recycle them
  • Start a compost which is great for your garden when you are planting

As you get more and more into recycling you will think of other things you can change which will make a difference to our environment.

What can you do to reduce the amount of plastic you use in your business?

  • Buy yourself a BPA free reusable water bottle
  • Have your milk delivered to your door in reusable glass bottles
  • buy loose vegetables and food items that can be put into recyclable paper bags
  • Check on the packaging and if it doesn’t say it is recyclable then don’t buy it and try an alternative

Where can you recycle?

  • Weekly recycling collection from your local council
  • Charity shops
  • Charity collections
  • Local Council recycling centres
  • Free selling sites
  • Car boot sales

Do you need to wash glass before recycling?

Yes, any empty jars, bottles, and cans need to be washed and clean before you put them into your recycling. It’s really easy and takes seconds to do.

Do you have to rinse plastic before recycling?

You should rinse your plastic before it goes into your weekly recycling. Most centres will wash it through but it is better for the equipment if it is washed by us first.

Can you recycle stuff with food on it?

Food residue is burned away during the recycling process for plastic, glass, and metal but you should wash it first before you put it into your weekly collection to prevent smells and bacteria growing. Paper products with grease or food residue, such as pizza boxes, should not be put in the recycling bin.

Can dirty plastic be recycled?

All plastic is washed and sterilised before it is recycled, however, you should wash it first before you put it into your weekly collection to prevent smells and bacteria growing.

How much energy does recycling plastic save?

The recycling of aluminium cans saves 95% of the energy required to make the same amount of aluminium from its original source. One ton of recycled aluminium saves 14,000-kilowatt hours (Kwh) of energy, 40 barrels of oil, 238 million Btu’s of energy, and 10 cubic yards of landfill space.

What percentage of recyclable plastic is actually recycled?

It was estimated that in 2015, around 55 per cent of global plastic waste was discarded, 25 per cent was incinerated, and 20 per cent was recycled. Only 9 per cent of the plastic waste produced between 1950 and 2015 was recycled!!!

How much money could we save if we recycle?

Each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water. This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution!

How many times can plastic be recycled?

Plastic is made up of fibres, much like paper and the fibres shorten every time it is recycled. This means that plastic can be recycled between 7-9 times before it is no longer recyclable.

How many times can paper be recycled?

It is estimated paper can be recycled between 4-6 times.

What are recyclable items that I can’t put in my curbside recycling bin?

Generally, plastic bags and wraps, electronics, and textiles cannot go into your weekly recycling collection however always check on your local councils website first as some areas do collect these items.

What is composting?

Compost is an organic material that can be added to soil to help your plants grow. Compost enriches soil, helping to retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests. Compost also reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, and it encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material. Good things to compost include; vegetable peelings, fruit waste, tea bags, plant prunings and grass cuttings. These are fast to break down and provide important nitrogen as well as moisture.

What can we do to reduce our plastic bag usage?

  • Reduce the number of bags we use
  • Reduce the number of bags we throw away after one use
  • Reuse any bags you have
  • Recycle bags when they can no longer be used (drop them off at your local supermarket if they have collection points or make an Ecobrick)
  • Use a reusable shopping bag and always have one in your car or bag when you are out

What should I do with dirty nappies?

A lot of local councils will now collect used nappies so always check with them first before you put them into your general waste.

What should I do with old clothes and old shoes?

Clothes and shoes you no longer want can be donated to many charities and charity shops and quite often you may no longer want them but there will be someone out there who does. a lot of areas also have clothes and shoe banks where you can drop your items into a big container and they are collected regularly.

How can I recycle electronic items?

Manufacturers and retailers of electronics often offer several options to donate or recycle electronics, including; mobile phones, computers and televisions. Your local recycling centre may also accept them so check their website to see if they will. There are also a lot of companies out there now who will collect them so you can search on the internet to find this out.

How can I recycle metal?

Search for scrap metal companies who will often come out and collect your metal free of charge and then sell it onto bigger companies who will recycle it.

What should I do with paint?

Check if there are any local schools, churches or charities that may be able to make use of any of your leftover paint. If not check if your local recycling centre will accept it.

There are so many things we can do and change in our lives to take the step forward in protecting our world and no longer damaging it and we hope this article has helped you in your recycling journey.

If you are looking for reusable products for your home or business then take a look here for some ideas, we sell reusable and recyclable straws and bottles.

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