Recycling like a pro!

How to raise your recycling game and make your recycling count. 

Minimising our waste has been condensed down to three words, reduce - reuse - recycle.

Reducing single use plastic

There are lots of small changes we can make to reduce the amount of plastic we generate.

For example, using a glass jar or re-useable bottle for water, swapping bamboo for plastic items such as drinking straws, toothbrushes and cotton buds. Bamboo coffee cups are a lightweight alternative to non-recyclable cups from cafes. Not the melamine kind though, they can be a source of toxins so go for the natural pressed variety. 

Opt for paper packaging or take your own

Buying vegetables from businesses who use paper packaging such as loose from a greengrocers who supply paper bags. Many supermarkets are now encouraging shoppers to take their own containers too, but stores that focus on zero waste by refilling bottles and containers have been around for many years and are worthy of our custom. 

Re-using: make plastic earn it's keep

Re-using is a superb way to stop adding to landfill and is effectively reducing and recycling in it's simplest form. Some examples are:

  • Re-using jam jars to store leftover food in - airtight and you can see what is in the jar. 
  • Pet food trays make re-usable plant labels and plant pot dishes
  • Polystyrene packaging can be re-used to send parcels and gifts in the post or to protect stored items in the attic. 

Recycling right

There is a bit more to recycling than simply putting it in the blue bin - sorters at the recycling sites have a grim job. It isn't made any better by wrong items being put in the bins and not following the rules. 

3 simple rules:

  • Clean – give your items a quick rinse. Any food or liquid could contaminate other recycling
  • Dry – wet items can also contaminate other recycling
  • Don’t Bag It – don’t put carrier bags or sacks inside your recycling bin. Bags cannot be opened at the sorting facility

Can it be recycled? 

Well that depends on your council to a certain degree, what they collect - you should have a list on the top of your bin but it might be worth checking with your councils website, they might be recycling more than when your bin was written.

Milk cartons, cardboard, tin foil, tin cans, drink cans, paper, water bottles are all good as long as clean and dry, so no greasy pizza boxes.

What can't be recycled? 

It can vary from council to council, but the following list is an example of items not recycled.

  • Nappies – The box your disposable nappies come in is recyclable, but the nappies themselves are not. Nappies (used or unused) must not go in your recycling bin. They make otherwise clean recycling dirty and someone has to remove them by hand.
  • Tissues and used kitchen wipes
  • Food waste – gets onto recyclable material and includes food on recyclable material that has not been rinsed out
  • Soft plastics – crisp packets, sweet wrappers, toothpaste tubes, carrier bags, food wrapping e.g. cellophane wrap around food punnets/trays, cling film, shrink wrap, bubble wrap and baby & pet food pouches. Some magazine wrappers (such as those from National Trust) can now be safely home composted, look out for the TUV Austria certification logo.
  • Hard plastics – toys, plant pots and polystyrene
  • Sharps items –Razor blades or needles.  These items are dangerous and do not belong in your home recycling bin
  • Clothing and shoes
  • Electrical items

If the items can't go in your household bin, there are other places to take recycling, a lot of supermarkets do have large bins and the local amenity centre also tend to take a wider range of plastics and have sections for metal for example.

Most plastic has a code on it, to help you determine if it will go in your recycling bin. 

Bamboo items can go in the compost bin, food waste bin or be upcycled. Just remove any plastic parts (if there are any) as these cannot go in your blue bin.

Great tip: Any small recyclable plastics can go into a plastic bottle, fill the bottle up and put that in the recycling bin. 

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle (clean, dry and don't bag it!)