We all think it’s easy to do yet on average only 45.7% of household waste is recycled, says the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
While this figure reflects an increase in recycling in recent years, it does show there is still work to be done if the UK is to reach the government target of recycling 50% of household waste by 2020.
Loughborough University’s Environmental Manager Nik Hunt has shared his top tips in a bid to help student and non-student homes improve their recycling rate.
He hopes as well as providing practical advice, the video he features in will raise awareness of the issue with ‘contaminating’ recycling bins.
In 2016, government figures released by the BBC showed the amount of household rubbish being rejected for recycling in England had increased by 84% over four years, with contaminated recycling bins listed as the primary reason for waste being rejected.
Nik said: “A lot of people don’t realise that recycling is rejected because it’s not clean and dry.
“My first and possibly most important tip is to rinse containers as soon as you’ve emptied them. It’s quick and easy to do and avoids washing them later and saves time.
“Try and squash containers as well as this will save room in your bins for more recycling.”
Nik’s other top tips include:
- Separate food waste where schemes exist or alternatively make your own compost
- Coffee cups are difficult to recycle so invest in a reusable cup
- Cut the amount you need to recycle by avoiding packaging where possible and buying loose
- Make sure you’ve properly checked your local arrangements for recycling as they can vary from council to council
As Christmas is right around the corner, Nik has also shared recycling advice for the festive season as a whopping 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is thrown away each year and 1 billion Christmas cards are put in the bin.
Is your gift wrapping environmentally friendly?
Only buy recyclable wrapping paper – this needs to be paper-based, non-glossy and glitter-free (and to help reduce waste further, ensure you keep wrapping paper, bows and ribbon from the presents you receive and reuse these)
Don’t forget your cards need to be recyclable too – be sure to check before purchasing or better yet, opt to send an e-card or just make a phone call to say Happy Christmas!
Avoid sticky tape – sticky tape cannot be recycled. Buy and reuse natural twine as ribbon. This will also help ensure you can recycle or reuse wrapping paper
Choose your Christmas tree carefully – real trees can be better if UK-grown and FSC certified but consider pot-based trees with roots to replant, renting real trees or make sure you recycle your tree after use. Fake trees are not as good but if they are made from polyethene and kept for more than 10 years this can mitigate most of the carbon impact. Good quality ones can last for 20 years+.
To keep up-to-date with the Sustainable Home series, visit the Media Centre video and audio subsection.