Have You Been Recycling Wrong All Along?
How many times have you stood in the kitchen with packaging in your hand and agonised over whether you can recycle it or not? Hands up who just chucks it in the recycling bin anyway and hopes for the best?
We all know recycling (when it’s done properly) is the key to stemming the tide of waste that’s harming our planet, but have you been doing it wrong all along?
The deal with coffee cups
Disposable coffee cups are often an Achilles heel for recycling companies, mainly because they are made of a few different types of material. The inside of the paper cup is usually coated with plastic to make it waterproof, but separating the paper from the plastic is often too much of a tall order and they often end up in landfill. And the lids? They’re made from low-quality plastic so they’re not commercially attractive to buy and many go the same way as the cups - to the dump. The best thing you can do is buy a reusable coffee cup.
The lowdown on toothpaste tubes
Toothpaste is an essential for keeping your pearly whites white, but the tubes are also made from a mix of different materials such as plastic and aluminium which poses problems when it comes to processing and recycling. Fear not though, you can have sparkling teeth and do good for the environment; Colgate and TerraCycle now run a scheme where you can send your toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, and dental floss containers in for recycling.
To clean or not to clean?
If you faithfully wash out all of your food and drinks containers and packaging before you recycle them, good for you. You’re making the recycling process a lot easier. It has been known for entire loads of recycling to be rejected because of excessive food contamination.
The nightmare of the plastic bag
Plastic bags can jam sorting and processing machines at the recycling centre which makes recycling more difficult, time consuming, and expensive. Instead of putting them in the recycling, reuse them when you go shopping or use them to line your waste or bathroom bins.
Unlike glass, plastic can’t be recycled forever
Plastic degrades in quality when it’s recycled, so that’s why you might see comparatively small percentages of recycled plastic being used in drinks bottles and other containers. Often, lower quality plastic is used to make carpets or clothing, then when it can no longer be of use, it ends up in landfill. The remedy? Use less plastic, especially the single-use kind.