It can be confusing sometimes what can and can’t be recycled, but don’t worry you’re not alone in feeling this way! UK households alone generate around 22.1 million tonnes of carbon. It seems we are getting better at recycling as in 2019 the recycling rate was 46.2% increasing from 45.0% in 2018. We need to continue to improve our recycling habits! This blog will hopefully help explain how to recycle more efficiently.

Importance of recycling.

Why should you recycle? Recycling is important to help fight climate change and is a simple concept. It has many benefits for the environment like:

  • Saving energy during the manufacturing process of recycling old materials, because it skips the need to make materials from scratch.
  • materials and natural resources aren’t wasted, and of course, less waste goes to landfills meaning fewer methane emissions come from the landfill!

Recycling can be a very powerful resource in climate change as according to the EPA who reported that using recycled plastic reduces the environmental impact of energy and emissions by more than 50 percent. For other recyclable materials like paper and aluminium, this comes to more like 75 or 80 percent. This is huge and considering plastic takes so long to decompose the last thing we need is to create more of it.

We can make a global difference if we all start to recycle more!

Different Types of Recycling

Not all recycling goes through the same process just like some items made have a linear economy and others have a circular economy! There are 3 main types of recycling:

  1. Mechanical Recycling is one of the most globally used methods as it consists of mechanically crushing the plastic and remelting it into granules to create a new plastic item. rather than changing its chemical structure.
  2. Energy Recycling — Energy recycling is when plastic goes through the burning process. During the burning process the plastic turns into solid waste, gas waste, or energy. The energy generated is used to heat water, which it then generates steam which turns the turbines to create electricity!
  3. Chemical Recycling is when plastic is collected and heated and then from there enters 3 different processes which are hydrogenation, gasification, or pyrolysis.Within these processes they chemically modify their structure so they can be put in their raw materials and used for different industries or manufacturing new plastic materials.

If you want to learn more about the recycling process then please see this video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zO3jFKiqmHo&t=55s

What Can’t Be Recycled

Sometimes it can be misleading on what you can and can’t recycle for example a pizza box you can recycle but if it has had a pizza in it the box can no longer be recycled due to it contaminating the recycling process. Here are five things that can’t be recycled:

  • Crisp packets
  • Toothpaste and other squeezable tubes
  • Drinking glasses and Pyrex dishes
  • Paper Receipts
  • Cotton wool and make-up removal pads

With things you can’t recycle you can try and reuse them for example egg cartons can’t be recycled but why not use them to start growing your own plants! All you have to do is cut off the lid, fill each cup with potting soil, and plant some seeds. Once the seedlings sprout, cut each cup from the tray and plant it.

What can be recycled

Paper

When recycling paper it’s important to make sure it is kept as clean and dry as possible to maintain the level of quality needed for the recycling process.

Make sure to keep magazines, cardboard boxes, and mail out of the bin!

Plastic

There are over 50 types of plastic in everyday use, ranging from drink bottles and food trays to cling film and bin liners, with the average household using about 440 plastic bottles each year. Depending on what plastic you are recycling depends how it will be recycled whether it is done by mechanical recycling, energy recycling or chemical recycling.

There are many uses for recycled plastic, for example as clothing, garden furniture, water butts, and recycling boxes, such as those we use for curbside collections.

Glass

Before recycling, glass bottles and jars make sure you rinse them out as this helps keep your recycling box clean and reduces the level of contamination that needs dealing with during the recycling process.

Top Tip

You can rinse your bottles and jars at the end of the washing-up to save water.

Metals

Steel and aluminium cans are not only easy to recycle but doing so uses fewer resources than making new cans from scratch.

You can recycle soup cans, soda cans, and even aluminium foil! Make sure to clean off any food particles before you toss them in the recycle bin.

What Recycling symbols mean

Mobius Loop — means the item is capable of being recycled, but not that it has been recycled, or will be accepted in all recycling collection systems.

Plastic Resin Codes — identifies the type of plastic used.

Glass — This symbol encourages you to recycle glass containers in a bottle bank (remember to separate different coloured glass)

Not Yet Recyclable — The label is applied to products that are recycled by less than 20% of local authorities in the UK.

Check Locally — This symbol appears on packaging that is collected by 20%–75% of local authorities in the UK.

Recyclable Steel — This means the item is made of steel and can be recycled by all local authorities.

Aluminium — The aluminium icon means the object is made from recyclable aluminium.

Compostable — The seedling icon means the item can be composted.

The Green Dot — This symbol does not necessarily mean the item is recyclable.

Widely Recycled — This icon means the item is collected by 75% or more of local authorities across the UK.

Widely Recycled at Recycling Centres — Items with this symbol can only be recycled at specific recycling centres.

The Tidy Man — This symbol serves as a reminder not to litter.

Tips For Recycling

Here are some tips to recycle more efficiently and effectively.


  • Plastic film can’t be recycled, and if it wrongly ends up at recycling facilities, it can get tangled in the machinery.
  • Rinse out any items and containers prior to placing them into your recycling bin
  • Flatten cardboard as this will also save space in your bin and make room for more recycling.
  • Set up designated recycling containers at home, work, and school.
  • Keep lids on plastic bottles

Recycling is a great way that you can avoid creating extra carbon but we know that it isn’t always possible to live a waste free life and there may be carbon you need to offset If you’re wanting to start your sustainability journey, why don’t you get in contact with SKOOT by emailing us at [email protected] We can help you discuss which eco-friendly solution can suit your business!