Let’s know more about recycling

Posted 7 months ago

Common myths answered

As we hear more about the climate crisis, the more we can see how important recycling is to help us be more sustainable. But sometimes even if we are recycling, we second guess whether we are doing it the right way. This article will talk about why recycling is important, some common contaminants in recycling bins, debunk some recycling myths and answer some questions students have for when it comes to recycling.

Why recycling is important

Recycling isn't just a trend; it's a lifeline for our planet. It's about giving used materials a second shot at life, saving resources, and cutting pollution. Every recycled item means less waste in landfills and less harm to our environment.

Why does it matter? Because recycling is a collective effort, from individuals to communities, to create a sustainable world. It's about making smart choices daily and taking care of the earth.

By recycling, we're not just discarding; we're preserving. It's a small action with a huge impact, shaping a sustainable society of all of us!

Top 5 common contaminants

You know what's causing a lot of mix-ups in recycling? Confusion about what stuff actually goes in those bins! According to WRAP, shocking 82% of households in the UK bin items in their recycling collections that shouldn't be there.

Quick heads-up on what not to toss into those recycling bins:

  1. Soft plastic packaging- cannot go into food waste or cans and plastics recycling (Put in general or collect to take to city supermarket).
  2. Tissues and kitchen roll must go into the general waste not the cardboard recycling.
  3. Food waste and packaging in the incorrect recycling bin. (Please refer to the stickers on your recycling bins which inform you where to put each item)
  4. When something can be recycled, but it’s contaminated with something else (e.g food packaging, that still has food in it). Tear off the greasy sections of a pizza box. Remove any polystyrene or bubble wrap, sticky tape before putting cardboard boxes into the paper and card recycling bin.
  5. Toothpaste tubes – recycle these through the donation points on campus and in the city.

These small tweaks can seriously help make our recycling game stronger and to learn more about what items can’t be recycled, check out this article!

Recycling myths

1. All plastics can be recycled.

With 40,000 different types of plastic out there, is it any wonder people are confused?

PET plastics, from which water bottles and salad dressing bottles are made, and HDPE plastics, from which shampoo and milk containers are made, can be most easy to recycle.

However, plastic bags, soft plastics, toothpaste tubes, make-up containers can be recycled, just not within your university accommodation collection. Look in your local supermarket to see which they will collect, and through Terracycle (look out for a collection point on campus and in the city)

This myth is partly true and partly false.

2. Recycling is a waste of time

Recycling makes a great difference, protecting our environment from the single-use plastics already prevalent, and preventing waste from going to landfill. The better we can recycle, the more we can continue to repurpose the same materials and create a circular economy model. Recycling matters, and we hope you’ll join us in striving for a waste-free UK.

This myth is false.

3. Separating waste is unnecessary because it will be sorted for me.

Once upon a time, recyclers could put everything into one bin and have it collected and sorted by their waste providers. We now know that although this is easier for residents and cheaper for councils, it can be extremely ineffective. When people put all materials together, the risk for contamination – and the risk for damage to materials – is hugely increased. What does this mean? By combining everything, there’s a great likelihood that none of your waste will be accepted and will instead end up in landfill.

This myth is false.

4. If something is ‘recycled,’ it’s recyclable.

Sadly, just because a product contains recycled materials, or has been recycled previously, doesn’t mean it’s recyclable. More products should be designed with the closing loop of recycling at their heart, rather than as an afterthought, so that they can continue to be repurposed.

This myth is false.

5. You have to clean empties for them to be recycled properly.

It is true (sort of). As a rule of thumb, you should at least be giving items a rinse, and preferably getting them as clean as possible, before sticking them in the recycling. If recycling is sparkling clean, it can theoretically be processed back into exactly the material it was before: achieving the hallowed ‘closed loop’ recycling model – the holy grail for waste watchers. Recycling that’s contaminated to some extent will go on to produce less high-quality materials.

To demystify recycling conceptions, check out more common recycling myths in the UK.

Common students questions

1. Can we recycle greasy cardboard food boxes?

Grease and oil are two of the worst contaminants in paper recycling, and greasy pizza boxes are one of the biggest culprits You can recycle greasy cardboard boxes if you scrape off any food residue from the cardboard, flatten it, and add it to your cardboard recycling bin

Even better, why not buy a reusable pizza box from the lime tree?

Reusable pizza boxes now available from lime tree

2. Where do I put plastic containers?

Plastics containers need to be rinsed clean, squashed, and placed in the Plastic and Cans recycling bin. This is the bin with the orange and grey labels on. In this recycling bin you can recycle plastic tubs, plastic bottles, food trays, yogurt pots, food tins, aluminium and stall cans, foil and foil trays, aerosols and bottle and jar lids.

3. How often are my kitchen bins emptied?

The recycling streams are collected twice per week and the general waste is collected once per week.

4. What do I do if my bins are overflowing before the next collection day?

Empty your waste and recycling and take it to your nearest bin store. Please use the clear plastic bags provided in your kitchen to line the empty bin before reusing.

5. Why do I only have one general waste collection per week?

This is to encourage you to recycle more. If you are recycling correctly, your general waste bin will only need to be emptied once per week. When living in private city accommodation, if your recycling is contaminated the waste crew won’t collect it and if your general bin is continually overflowing you may get a visit from the waste education team so now is the time to practice good recycling behavior