What you can and cannot recycle
Matthew Derry has not disclosed any affiliations other than his academic position. He does not consult for, own shares or receive funding from, or work for any companies or organizations that could benefit from the article.
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img alt=”Woman looking confused holding recycling bag.” data-id=”529405″
Recycling can be a hassle. Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock
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Are you a Wishcycler when it comes to recycling? This term is something I had never heard before. It’s basically when people recycle things that they should throw away. The government is trying to crack down on this.
new rules ask people to stop “overrecycling” by being more careful with what they place in their recycling bins. The aim is to reduce the amount of dirty waste sent to landfills and processing centers.
Some commonly recycled items require specialist recycling treatment, or they are so contaminated that processing them is impossible. Consider toothpaste tubes, takeaway containers, and juice cartons. If you are putting these items into the recycling bin or box, then you may want to reconsider how you are disposing of them.
Three years ago, the UK Government announced its goal to recycle. The target was for 65% of all household wastes to be recycled by the year 2035.
A recent study shows that 80 percent of UK households “still aren’t sure” how to recycle properly – do I need to wash it out? Can I flatten the items, and what happens if the cardboard gets wet? Wet cardboard cannot be recycled.
Many admit that it is easier to just throw something away instead of figuring out if it could be recycled.
We are researching the impact of new bio-based plastics and biodegradable materials on a more Circular Economy. (This is when items are reused instead of being sent to landfills or shipped overseas. Although we have made great strides in this field, it is still a long way from all packaging being produced in this manner in an efficient way. For now, recycling is your best bet.
Why, then is there confusion over recycling? There are different ways that recycling waste is collected in the UK. This can be the case even from one street or another.
If you are unsure about recycling regulations, it is best to “check with your local authorities.” The leaflet explaining what and how to recycle should have been delivered to households. If you have thrown it away or recycled it, the information will be available on your local authority’s website.
Plastic containers, such as food trays and margarine tubs, are easily recyclable. Aluminum foil, cans, and glass bottles are also recyclable. If you’re looking to optimize the recycling infrastructure of your council, check out your local collection guide.
It can be hard to know what goes where. And it varies from one area to another. Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock
The waste management companies that collect recyclable waste are a major reason why there is currently variation in the recycling of different authorities. This varies from one area to another.
Crisp packets, for example, cannot be recycled through household collection (although they can in some places). It is difficult to decompose them because of their multiple layers of metal and plastic. You should instead take them to the nearest supermarket, as many chains allow customers to recycle soft plastics and crisp packets.
Pet food pouches are recyclable but not through your regular household recycling. Instead, they can go to large supermarkets.
Most greased pizza boxes are the most problematic. It’s difficult to remove contamination when recycling paper and cardboard. Therefore, it is best to toss contaminated pizza boxes into the waste bin. You can always recycle the lid from the pizza box.
The recycling bin does not mark the end of the journey but rather the beginning. Juice Flair/Shutterstock
One of the most common items that cannot be recycled is the plastic black trays, which are used by many manufacturers as a tool for marketing to make their products look more attractive.
This tactic may help sell more units, but unfortunately, it means that these recyclable plastic trays are less likely to be recycled. The reason for this is that opaque trays can’t be separated from other plastics in a recycling center because light cannot pass through.
We are seeing fewer and fewer black plastic trays at our supermarkets. Some advances have also been made, allowing some black plastics to be recycled. Still unsure? The message that is repeated over and over again is “check with the local authority.” Better yet, create a list that outlines what can and cannot be recycled and post it in a prominent place.
The more we can do to recycle and stop sending our waste to landfills, the healthier our air will be.