Dear Recycling Bins: Our Weekly Recycling Advice Column
Welcome to our weekly advice column where we look at all things recycling and give you the answers you’re desperately seeking.
Dear Recycling Bins,
I’m an avid recycler, and while I believe I always do my best for the planet, I’d like some reassurance on whether I’m focusing my efforts in the right places.
I recycle paper, cardboard, and glass religiously, as well as plastic bottles (including most of my bathroom and cleaning products) though I’m never quite sure if the lids are completely recyclable. I read somewhere that they’re often not.
Could I be doing anything better?
An Avid Recycler
Dear Avid Recycler,
We’re so glad to hear that you recycle as much as you can, though remember to ask yourself if there’s the opportunity to reduce the waste you use in the first place or reuse it in some way. Even though recycling is great, the process still uses a lot of energy, water, and other resources.
And while we applaud the fact you recycle all your paper, card, and glass, don’t forget to recycle aluminium and other metals. It takes around 20 times more energy to make a completely new aluminium can than it does to make one from recycled aluminium.
It’s great that you recycle plastic bottles from your bathroom and cleaning products, just remember to give them a rinse and remove any pumps as these can’t be recycled currently.
Don’t worry too much about leaving the lids on bottles, because if they aren’t recyclable they’ll usually be spotted when they’re being sorted by hand at the recycling facility.
The absolute no-no’s for your recycling bin or box are nappies, sanitary products, medical waste, and pet litter.
Do your rinse your recycling? If you do, it’s a good move. If recycling is too dirty or contaminated it will be rejected.
Do you get your milk from the milkman, or the supermarket? Reusable glass bottles are the better option, but don’t worry if the milkman costs a bit much for you, or there’s no delivery where you live. The plastic milk bottles in the supermarket are considered a highly valuable recyclable material. There’s a restriction on the percentage of recycled plastic that can go into containers that will contain foodstuffs, and currently that’s set at 30%, but manufacturers are working on innovations to increase this. It’s possible that eventually, milk will be sold in reusable containers. Tesco and TerraCycle are launching a deposit return scheme later this year where customers will be able to buy essentials like deodorant and toothpaste in reusable packaging, so there’s definitely scope for milk to follow suit.
We hope that’s answered some of your most pressing concerns. Keep calm and keep recycling!