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Common Recycling mistakes in the UK and how to avoid making them
Recycling is easy, so why is the UK only recycling 45% of our waste? One of the main culprits is the home, as many people are unsure which items can technically be recycled and which items have to be placed in general waste. At Bywaters, we work with many businesses and councils to improve their sustainability, using our position as London’s leading waste management company to educate and help our corporate and personal customers avoid common recycling blunders.
Here are some of the most common recycling mistakes and how to avoid them.
Contamination and food waste
The term ‘clean your plate’ is usually used when a person finishes all the food. Many Brits make the mistake of placing food containers in the recycling bin, even when contaminated.
Clean off what you eat off. If a container is smeared with food, it will likely contaminate the waste it’s in. As this affects other clean items, the whole batch can be infected, causing the recycling to be labelled as general waste and, sadly, incinerated rather than recycled.
Black and Infrared plastic
Scientists predict there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. To stop this, the major recycling companies in the UK have invested in machinery that can separate waste instantly. However, the infrared used to detect and sort different types of plastic doesn’t read black or dark plastic. This means even if you do everything right when recycling, your items may still end up in general waste. Avoid black or dark plastic where possible.
Reuse what you have
Have you ever returned to a store, only to realise you left your collection of bags under the sink when prompted to purchase another new bag for your items? It’s a common mistake made amongst Brits.
Save your money and time by reusing items, rather than throwing them out or leaving them dormant. Many supermarkets have take-back schemes, which will take in the bags you don’t want for a financial incentive.
Recycling is the act of repurposing items for others. If you can repurpose items yourself, you are part of the solution.
“93% of residents and consumers expect to be able to recycle glass, according to The recycling coalition.”
We’ve heard of all the fantastic things glass can be turned into when recycled. The narrative is usually given without context, so, understandably, many Brits tend to use any recycling bin provided to dispose of glass. It’s important to know what can and can’t be recycled at home; glass should be recycled through glass recycling services.
Drinking glasses tend to be made with a chemical that keeps them together. This chemical contaminates drinking glasses, no matter how ‘clean’ they are. Other forms of glass have variations in their melting point, leaving them almost impossible to recycle through even the most advanced recycling machinery in the UK.
Bywaters has some of the best glass recycling services in the UK.
Pay attention to the pieces and labels
Lastly, it’s essential to pay attention. Toys, instruments and more tend to have many parts to them. It’s important to take apart items before recycling them. Our rule for food also applies to other products; an item is not defined by its majority. If a toy is made up of more recyclable items than non-recyclable ones, that is still enough for it to be incinerated rather than recycled. To manage the waste of an entire nation, items are put through high-speed machinery. These machines must distinguish between recyclable and non-recyclable items in under a second; therefore, toys and small things can’t always be distinguished or separated. . you mustn’t undo all of your hard work by assuming someone else will do it for you.
You care. You’re at the bottom of a blog about managing waste in your home. One of the most common mistakes we see made daily is people not reading the instructions. Companies worldwide are joining the effort to save our planet; one way they have been showing their intent is by labelling the material or exactly where it should be disposed of. It may seem tedious initially, but it’s just like anything else. Once you get in the flow of understanding where your favourite items go, it’ll all be second nature to you.
Regarding sustainability, recycling is one of the most important practices we can adopt. Not only does recycling help us reduce our environmental impact, it also saves us money. Yet many people don’t recycle because they don’t have access to a recycling bin or don’t know how to recycle correctly.
One way to make recycling more manageable and more accessible is to buy in bulk. When you buy in bulk, you get many products for a lower price, and you can recycle the packaging when you’re done. This is because large containers can be recycled more easily than small ones. Next time you’re grocery shopping, try buying your products in bulk. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also be helping the environment!
To build a home, you must find the perfect combination of good habits, ideas and action. The same is true for saving our planet.