The Good Recycling Guide

The government has big recycling ambitions, but it doesn’t tell councils how they can be met, so it’s up to local authorities to put a suitable scheme in place. Recycling services vary widely across the country and here’s why:

recycling services

Cost: Recycling technology and facilities are expensive, so many councils stick to tried and tested recycling processes like paper and glass recycling.

Meeting targets: Recycling targets are based on the total weight of recycling, so heavier types of waste like glass and metal are given priority over lighter waste like plastics.

Ease of collection and transportation: Collection in rural areas can be difficult due to lack of recycling facilities and large distances between collection routes, and there can be problems with access in densely-populated urban areas.

There’s no overall framework: Industry bodies, charities and environmental campaign groups encourage good practice but there is no definitive guidance on how waste should be collected and recycled.

Mixed waste or separated waste: what’s the best way of meeting recycling targets?

Mixed or “co-mingled” collections

A 2005 study carried out by WRAP found that the quantity of paper collected for recycling rose when collections changed from single-material to multi-material. Mixed waste collections are easier for people in general because separating waste takes time, so overall recycling rates tend to increase.

co mingle

Separated waste

This is costlier as more collection and separation is required to recover recyclable materials. There’s also an increased risk of waste being contaminated.

The compromise is the dual recycling bag method that some councils have adopted. They provide households with a bag for plastics and metal and another for paper, card, and textiles. This makes waste separation easier for the council and it makes it easier for households to recycle.

Improve the way you recycle

  • Scrape out any remnants of food from containers and pour out any liquid that’s left.
  • Rinse food containers thoroughly
  • Squash containers, crush metal cans and squeeze plastic bottles flat to prevent contamination and reduce the volume of waste
  • Ideally, you should remove labels and lids from glass jars and bottles, but it’s not absolutely necessary
  • Remove the caps and lids from plastic containers because they’re often made from a different plastic from the bottle or container, so they might contaminate the load of plastic. Plastic rings around the neck of bottles can be left on.
  • Remove paper clips, staples, and plastic envelope windows from paper
  • Remove excess tape and labels from cardboard packaging wherever possible

Recycling paper

Paper and card can’t be recycled if they are greasy, so if you can, remove the greasy segments and recycle the rest. Tissues can be composted; they have dense fibres which makes them unsuitable for normal paper recycling.

How do I know what I can recycle?

Look at your local authority’s recycling guidelines so you know what you can and can’t put into your recycling bins, boxes, and bags. You can also find this information on recycle now’s website at https://www.recyclenow.com/local-recycling

recycling mixed