Understanding Recycling

Recycling is not a simple matter. Most of us want to do our best and recycle as much as we can, but it’s often very hard to understand what is and what isn’t bound for the recycling bin.

We all know that paper is recyclable, but the catch is that not all paper is equal. Normal printer paper or copier paper is recyclable almost everywhere, but wrapping paper and cards have different criteria. If their surface is just plain printing then it’s fine to put them into the recycling bin. But if they have foil, glitter, or ribbons then these must be removed, which is of course almost impossible in the case of wrapping paper.

Next, textiles, should be recyclable shouldn’t they? Well, no not in the way you might think. Obviously, textiles in good condition can be taken to your local charity shop, but clothes, towels, and sheets, that are in a poor condition can NOT be put into your domestic recycling bin.

So, what can you do with them? If they are not suitable for the charity shop, or a scheme like Primark’s where they can be returned to the store, then they can be put into the type of recycling bin that you often see outside supermarkets. If you’re not sure where your local textile recycling bin is, you can search here Local recycling | Recycle Now. Just pop in your postcode and the site will find it for you.

Then there’s batteries. Did you know that every year in the UK we throw away 600 million batteries? Yes, that’s right, 600 million! Batteries can be recycled, but not in your household bin either waste or recycling. Treated incorrectly batteries can be dangerous things. Earlier this year the fire service was called to a recycling collection lorry in Plymouth after a loader spotted smoke coming from the truck.

The culprit was a laptop battery that had leaked after being compacted and crushed in the back of the lorry. Luckily the crew saw the smoke before the fire could escalate, but it could have been much more serious.

Batteries need to be disposed of in line with the directions of your local council, it varies from area to area.

And finally, on to a stinky matter! Used disposable nappies. They may be disposable but they’re certainly not recyclable! One local council reported that their (unfortunate) operatives sometimes have to remove as many as 200 used nappies a day from the recyclable waste. Come on, people this is just not nice.

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