Recycling is the process of “convert[ing] (waste) into reusable material” according to the Oxford Dictionary. This is an important process to get the most out of the available resources in our planet, as extracting some of them is very hard or expensive. More than that, some exist in a limited amount and may no more exist in the near future.
Recycling is important to prevent the disappearance of these resources and guarantee their availability in the planet until new technologies are mature enough to replace them. It also reduces many types of pollution and energy consumption because less raw material will be extracted and transformed by impactful industrial methods.
The process of recycling is different for every material (glass, paper, aluminium), but it always requires less effort and results in less environmental impact than producing from raw material. You can see some comparisons on this recycling guide, which states that “70% less energy is required to recycle paper compared with making it from raw materials”.
Now that you know how important it is, let us start recycling! First, you have to understand that your waste can be divided into four basic groups: recyclable, food, green garden and hazardous waste.
Recyclable waste includes plastic packaging, drink cartons, paper, cardboard, metal tins/cans, glass and plastic bottles/containers. All these materials go in the recycling box, bag or wheelie bin that you can request from your local council. Please check how to order them and specific details about recycling in your area by typing your postcode on this link.
Recyclables should be disposed free of liquid and food waste. You should not put into your recycling container: foil-lined packets, degradable bags, airtight plastic containers, wallpaper, waxed paper, bubble wrap, paint tins, broken glass, light bulbs and polystyrene packaging.
Food can also be recycled, but must be placed in the compost caddy for collection. You should not put organic waste in regular plastic bags but put it straight into the caddy or use biodegradable caddy liners that you can easily buy in many shops or order through your council website. Food waste includes cooked and uncooked leftover food, including tea bags, eggs and eggshells. It does not include: oil, packaging, animal carcass and waste, nappies and garden waste. Details on food waste collection may vary from council to council and depend on the type of home you live in. More information can be found when you search with your postcode here.
Green garden waste, which is also compostable like food waste, must usually go in reusable garden sacks but you have to check with your council here for more specific information. Green garden waste includes grass cuttings, dead flowers, prunings, leaves and the like. You cannot put in the garden sack: soil, rocks, large tree cuttings, pots and leftover food. You can also do your own composting at home and fertilize your garden.
Hazardous waste is the one that requires more caution and usually cannot be disposed of very often. You may have to store it for a while in your home, so look for a safe, dry and cool place away from kids, preferably in the original containers. A series of chemicals (like insecticides, lubricants, paint, bleaches and disinfectants), oil, bottled gases, batteries, and electrical and electronic equipment are considered as hazardous waste. As this category includes a large number of different things, you should look for additional information on this link or this other link if you live in the city of London.
This is all the information you need to start recycling and helping the environment. Don’t forget to reuse bags and containers when possible – this will help save the planet and will save you money! Opt for refillable products or those with less packaging. Recycle and Green It Yourself… Now!