The current UK recycling rate is hovering around 45%. While this is not bad, we could do better. However, even the avid recyclers among you will admit that you sometimes struggle to work out what can be recycled.
It turns out that you can recycle more than you think, and some of the items might surprise you. Here are 10 things you didn’t know you could recycle.
What Can Be Recycled - Electronics and Gadgets
First on our list of what can be recycled are batteries. Hands up who has a drawer full of dead batteries? You probably know that because of the hazardous materials they contain, you can’t just put them in the bin. But did you know they’re recyclable? Most batteries you will use in your home are, including AAs, AAAs, lithium, lithium-ion, and zinc-air batteries.
However, before you put them in your recycling bin, check with your local authority. You might need to take them to a recycling centre. Some supermarkets also have battery collection points. Invest in a battery recycling bin for safe storage then dispose of them responsibly.
#2: Electrical Equipment
You can recycle most electrical equipment, whether it’s an old computer monitor that’s been gathering dust or smaller appliances that no longer work. Electricals are important items on the list of what can be recycled because they contain valuable materials like precious metals which are becoming scarce. They also contain hazardous materials which can contaminate soil and groundwater if they end up on landfill sites.
Many local authority recycling centres accept electricals. In addition, under the WEEE (Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment) Regulations, some retailers and manufacturers run takeback and recycling schemes.
Energy-saving lightbulbs are better for the environment and they save you money. But don’t make the mistake of putting them in the bin along with your glass jars. You can take them to a supermarket collection point or a local recycling centre.
#4: CDS and DVDs
In these days where streaming is king, your CD and DVD collection has probably become obsolete. If they’re cluttering up the loft or garage, you can always sell them online or donate them to a charity shop. But if they are full of scratches and not in good condition, you might be able to take them to your local recycling centre.
What Can Be Recycled - Clothing and Beauty Products
If you’ve had a wardrobe clear out, you might find yourself with a pile of hangers that are taking up space. Made from metal, plastic and wood they're recyclable. Charity shops are often on the lookout for extra hangers too if you’d like to give them a good home.
You’ve run and walked the lockdown miles in your trusty trainers and they’re past their best. They might not be top of the list when you think of what can be recycled, but they’re perfectly recyclable. Just take them to a recycling centre or clothing bank. Did you know that retailers like Nike will take back your old trainers and recycle them into new products? Just pop them into any Nike store.
Beauty brands are becoming ever more sustainable. That means you can enjoy a guilt-free beauty routine, as long as you recycle, of course!
Check the bottle or tube before you put anything in the recycling bin. If you’re not sure what can be recycled, check out the take-back schemes on offer at retailers like MAC, The Body Shop and John Lewis. They’ll accept your empty product containers in exchange for loyalty points, discounts or new products.
What Can Be Recycled - Household and Garden Waste
Did you revamp your home during a lockdown? You might have ended up struggling to get rid of items like your old carpet. You should not put carpet in the bin, it’s a huge waste. If your carpet is still in a reasonable condition, you could sell it or list it on Freecycle. If it’s looking a bit worse for wear, your local authority may take it away for you. You could also check if the place you bought it from has a takeback scheme.
Otherwise, you could donate it to an animal shelter, where it can become handy pet bedding.
#9: Baths, Toilets and Sinks
These are another few things that are not on the obvious list of what you are able to recycle. You’re enjoying your new swanky bathroom suite. But is it kind of spoiled by the thought that the old chipped and cracked one is lying in your back garden?
Check with your local authority-they might accept bathroom suites as part of their bulky waste collections. The other option is to take it to your local household waste recycling centre.
#10: Waste From Your Garden Projects
If you’ve been sprucing up your garden for the summer, you might have some waste you need to get rid of. But whether it’s rubble, sand, or stone, it can be hard to know what to do with it. These are not usually included in household recycling schemes, but why not take them to your local recycling centre.
We hope we’ve taken some of the mystery and confusion out of what can be recycled. For more articles and tips on all things recycling, check out the rest of our blog.