In the News: Our Look at the Top Recycling Stories Making the Headlines
A study carried out by Smart Energy GB has found that only half of adults believe recycling will help the environment. The survey of 4,000 adults was carried out as part of its ‘Missing Piece’ campaign, an initiative designed to make people aware of the benefits of energy efficiency and installing smart meters to combat climate change.
The study also found that only half of the participants believe that ditching single-use plastics will make a difference, and only three in 10 think that being more energy efficient would have a big positive impact on the environment.
Sustainability experts say that if every household in the UK was more energy efficient, it would move the UK much closer to achieving its 2050 zero carbon targets.
Energy efficiency is not part of the climate change conversation
But a joint project between Smart Energy GB, the University of Salford, and the Energy Saving Trust found that despite all of the headlines we see about climate change, less than 3% of prominent news stories on any platform mentioned energy efficiency.
TV presenter and environmentalist Chris Packham is supporting the Missing Piece campaign. He said that climate change is in the news more than ever before, but he’s dismayed that energy efficiency is hardly mentioned. He called for politicians, the media, and the public to bring energy efficiency into the climate change conversation.
The CEO of Smart Energy GB said that the world is facing a climate crisis, and if the UK wants to lead the way in achieving zero carbon emissions, it has a lot to do. She added that the most important thing the UK can do is to change the conversation around climate change and talk about introducing real changes in the way we all use energy.
Recycling: Does it really make a difference?
For many of us, recycling is a part of our everyday lives, whether we like it or not. People who don’t recycle might complain that it takes too much time and effort. They might have read that transporting and processing recyclables uses a lot of energy and produces carbon emissions, and a little while back, there may have been some truth in that. But now, as more recycling facilities open up and there are more markets for recycled goods and materials, the excuses for not recycling don’t completely add up.
Recycling myths busted
“Most recycling just gets dumped anyway”
You might have heard that contamination can result in an entire load of recycling getting rejected, and to an extent, that’s true, if the contamination is especially bad. But technology in recycling plants is much more efficient at weeding out rogue materials these days. At the average facility, the recyclables travel along conveyor belts, then they’re put in huge drums, and magnets and lasers are used to identify and sort different types of materials. Not only that, eagle-eyed staff are usually on hand to manually sort the recycling too and they’ll spot things that the machinery might miss. So the upshot is, more materials get successfully recycled than you would think.
“Transporting recyclables for miles and miles just adds to pollution”
More and more recycling facilities are opening up across the country, including more specialist plants, so there’s no real need to transport materials for hundreds of miles now. Your recyclables most likely go to a plant just a few miles away.
“Recycling materials probably costs more than just throwing them in the bin”
This is another myth. As landfill sites fill up to capacity, taxes have been introduced which makes it a pretty expensive waste management option. Councils can make money from recycling materials, which they can then use to improve the services we all need and use.
“Whether I recycle or not makes no difference”
It’s easy to see why people think like that, especially when you see depressing headlines about recycling rates dropping, or the mountains of plastic that end up in the ocean, but imagine if everyone thought they just shouldn’t bother. The waste problem would be so much worse.
Choosing to recycle is one of the best decisions you’ll make for the planet. Our throwaway society badly needs to learn that reusing and recycling is always a better decision than throwing things away. We don’t have infinite resources or landfill space, so we need to act now to protect the planet not just for us, but for future generations.