How is your waste recycled?
Here in the UK, we're certainly getting better at recycling. At the turn of the millennium, the household recycling rate was just 11%.
Since then, as the most recent figures reveal, the rate has jumped up to 45.2% with the rate in the London boroughs of Barnet, Harrow, Brent and Enfield hovering around the 35-41% mark. Yet, we’re still sending a lot of waste to landfill; 3.2 million tonnes in 2017/18 to be precise.
- Newspapers - newspaper is generally recycled but must be clean with no paint splatters or grease. The same is true of brochures, catalogues and magazines. Paper or card is shredded and mixed with water to make a pulp. Glue and ink are removed, then it’s passed through rollers to squeeze out water. Once dry it is made into recycled paper or card with many uses.
- Tyres – metal rims from tyres are removed and reused. Some tyres are re-treaded – to create new ones. Others are chipped to make materials, such as underlay. They can even be reprocessed to make rubber products, including pencil cases.
- Electrical goods - working electrical item can be given to some charity shops – or you might be able to sell them online. If not, take them to your local council’s recycling centre (tip). From here they will be sent to a reprocessing plant to break them down, releasing valuable raw materials. Did you know that gold found in games consoles is used to make jewellery or zinc from mobile phones in shipbuilding?
- Aluminium cans – aluminium is melted down and recycled to make new cans as well as parts of bikes and building materials.
- Plastic bottles - there are many different types of recyclable plastic. Some make new plastic bottles or food packaging, while others are used for building materials or many other products – chairs for example!
- Furniture – Donate good quality, unwanted furniture to an appropriate charity shop (check first) or take it to your local recycling centre. Find out if your local council offers a furniture collection service - which in some cases are free.
- Glass bottles and jars - glass bottles and jars are sorted by colour and crushed into small pieces before being melted down then blown into brand new bottles and jars. Recycled glass can also be used to make fibreglass and bricks.
- Textiles and clothing – textiles are hand-sorted at a reprocessing facility. High quality items are grouped and sold to overseas markets. Worn clothing and textiles, unsuitable for sale, are used to make padding for chairs, cleaning cloths and blankets.
- Batteries – different types of batteries are treated depending on the materials they contain. Metals such as zinc are extracted using a chemical process for reuse in manufacturing, others such as cadmium may be used to make new batteries.
- Food waste – if your council offers a food waste collection service for your peelings, tea bags, leftovers etc, the food is recycled in two ways. It can be mixed with garden waste and composted to create soil conditioner. Or it can be broken down in an anaerobic digestor to create biogas, which is used as a fuel.