Have you ever wondered what happens to your recycling?

We were curious to know what happens to the food we put out in the little green caddies. Can you really recycle food? It doesn’t sound a very attractive prospect does it?

The answer is, yes, you can. The waste food is taken to a treatment plant where it’s put into a digestor and broken down by micro-organisms.  This produces a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide which can then be used to produce heat, electricity, or transport fuels. The gas itself is a source of renewable energy.  It also creates bio fertilizer which can be used in farming. So, it really is worth separating out your food waste rather than just shoving it in the non-recycle bin.

It’s amazing and heartening that so many things can be produced from recycled waste.  You won’t be surprised to hear that drinks cans and aerosols are recycled to make more of the same, or that cardboard goes to make more cardboard, everything from packaging to biodegradable coffins.

Fluorescent tubes go to make, yes, you’ve guessed it, more fluorescent tubes, but more interestingly cooking oil goes to make biodiesel and old fridges are broken down into component parts to harvest the copper and steel that go on to be used in the manufacture of lots of different things.

One of the more surprising things we discovered is that even old carpet is not useless. It’s recycled to cement factories to keep their kilns burning.

Gas cylinders make new gas cylinders, glass bottles make new glass bottles.  Even household and car batteries are broken down and used for their lead or zinc.

That is what you can recycle but we also discovered some surprising things that can’t be recycled or are so difficult to recycle that it’s just not worthwhile.

  1. Toothpaste tubes
  2. Sticky notes
  3. Printed till receipts
  4. Crisp packets
  5. Salad bags
  6. Plastic sleeves on sports drinks
  7. Long tubes containing a certain thin crispy snack
  8. Cotton wool
  9. Black plastic food trays
  10. Drinking glasses
  11. Pyrex dishes

But that still leaves a whole range of things that are recyclable and it’s not that hard to just pop them in the correct bin.  So, next time you’re tempted to stuff something in the black bin (yes, we’ve all done it) just stop for a second and think, popping it in the recycling bin is helping to save our planet.

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