Busting waste and recycling myths


Whether or not you’re a happy-go-lucky ‘wish-cycler’ – tossing waste within the hope it may be recycled – or one who routinely agonizes over completely different diameters of plastic wrapping, there’s no hurt in selecting up a clearer understanding of the entire course of. Environmental information specialist Ecoveritas takes purpose at a number of basic shibboleths.

You must clear empties for them to be recycled correctly

True (type of)
The place potential, you need to a minimum of rinse gadgets, getting them as clear as potential, earlier than sticking them within the recycling.

It’s troublesome to say precisely how one can clear supplies have to be earlier than they’re recycled. Use the water from the washing up or pop them into the dishwasher if there’s house.

Not washing your recycling dangers ruining all the pieces and diverting the recycling load – not simply yours – to a landfill.

Why? Meals residue left on containers can’t be reliably processed. Contamination happens when the mistaken supplies are put into the system or when the correct supplies are ready incorrectly. If contamination ranges are too excessive when a recycling load arrives on the facility, it may need to be rejected. If so, the entire load is shipped to be burnt for vitality or landfill.

Receipts are recyclable

We crumple them, shove them in coat pockets and discover them forgotten in buying baggage day-after-day – the standard receipt could not look like a giant drawback, however paper receipts ought to most likely be banned to cease them from heading to landfill.

It turns on the market are two kinds of receipts floating round on the market. In case your metropolis has an organics program, the paper ones are recyclable and compostable, and the thermal ones aren’t. However as a result of it’s arduous to inform the distinction between the 2, we suggest protecting all of them out of the recycling bin.

That’s as a result of 93% of thermal receipts include Bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical that produces particular sorts of plastic. The UK nonetheless arms out 11 billion receipts yearly, and round 50 per cent of those – printed on shiny, thermal paper – will not be recyclable.

Fortunately, a sluggish transition to emailing digital receipts is underway, and more and more prospects are given the selection of whether or not to take a receipt.

Placing non-recyclables within the recycling bin will contaminate all the pieces

The rhyme “if unsure, go away it out” has received issues proper. The introduction of blended recycling gripped us with a free-wheeling, hope-for-the-best angle in the direction of tossing empties into the recycling.

If it’s going to be sorted anyway, it doesn’t damage. Flawed. You danger contaminating the entire load in the event you put the mistaken issues in your recycling. This would possibly imply all of the supplies are despatched for disposal as an alternative of recycling, or the standard of the recyclable supplies produced is decrease. So, if unsure, go away it out!

The next gadgets can’t be recycled utilizing your kerbside recycling bin:

  • glass cookware equivalent to Pyrex ®, consuming glasses or window glass
  • containers or bottles with liquids nonetheless in them
  • gadgets contaminated with extreme quantities of meals or grease, equivalent to used, very greasy, pizza bins
  • sanitary gadgets, equivalent to nappies
  • tissues, moist wipes, and make-up pads
  • paper stained with grease, paint or grime
  • sticky paper equivalent to Put up-It ® notes, sticky labels or masking tape
  • wall and ornament paper
  • crisp packets and candy wrappers
  • laminated foil pouches
  • greeting playing cards with glitter or different decorations on them

Over half one million tonnes of recycling is rejected yearly attributable to contamination.

Aerosol cans can’t be recycled

You possibly can recycle aerosols along with your blended recycling. In line with Recycle Now, if everybody within the UK recycled one empty can of air freshener, sufficient vitality can be saved to energy 273,000 TVs for a yr! However be sure to comply with the following tips first:


  • spray any leftover liquid right into a rag till nothing else comes out
  • take away any simply detachable elements (just like the lid) and eliminate them with the aerosol
  • throw any connected plastic straws into basic waste

An important factor is to ensure aerosols are empty. Aerosol cans with something left inside are nonetheless pressurised, that means they might explode or combust if punctured or crushed.


  • pierce, crush or flatten the can
  • take away the nozzle
  • recycle a can that also comprises any substance

Recycling your aerosols saves priceless metals that may be recycled infinite instances with out shedding high quality.

You want to take away the plastic tape from the packaging

With increasingly more of us defaulting to purchasing on-line slightly than on the excessive avenue, rather more packaging is transferring by way of the system.

Though cardboard bins are absolutely recyclable, sticky tape just isn’t and ought to be thrown away in your garbage bin.

The place potential, attempt to take away all free strands of sticky tape from cardboard bins and wrapping paper earlier than you recycle them.

Leaving the adhesive tape in your bins might make them contaminated and despatched to a landfill slightly than a recycling centre.

Wrapping paper is recyclable

Customers within the UK use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper every year, and over 83km2 of this leads to bins. The Division for Atmosphere, Meals and Rural Affairs estimate that the paper used yearly is sufficient to wrap the island of Guernsey.

Even worse, an excessive amount of this paper can’t be recycled because it comprises plastic (glitter or laminates).

However the excellent news is that there are many decisions relating to eco-friendly choices. Many retailers have made their wrapping paper recyclable; newspaper and brown paper are simple to recycle, and pure twine is a lot better than non-recyclable sticky tape.

The triangle icon signifies that one thing is recyclable

That is considered one of many frequent recycling misconceptions. The Inexperienced Dot emblem reveals that an organization has joined the scheme. The producer could have made a monetary contribution in the direction of the restoration and recycling of packaging in Europe.

We’ve all scoured an merchandise for some indication of whether or not it’s recyclable or not, solely to heave a sigh of aid upon encountering the small inexperienced circle icon with interlocking arrows. Nevertheless, we’re right here to shatter your blissful ignorance and inform you that this devious little image – often called ‘the inexperienced dot’ – is deceptive you. This doesn’t imply the merchandise is recyclable; it signifies that the corporate in query has financially contributed in the direction of the restoration and recycling of packaging in Europe. To make sure an merchandise is recyclable, it should explicitly state that that is the case.

It doesn’t essentially imply that the packaging is recycled or could be recycled.

Damaged glass could be recycled

It relies upon
Damaged glass can generally be recycled, however councils usually received’t settle for it in a kerbside bin, because it dangers injuring staff.

You would possibly have to take it to a bottle financial institution or native recycling centre.

You need to test your native council’s web site to learn how they suggest disposing of damaged glass.

It’s value noting that the next kinds of glass additionally can’t be recycled:

  • Glass panes
  • Toughened glass panes
  • Mirrors
  • Mild bulbs or fluorescent tubes

The above have to be positioned in your common waste bin, or take massive items of damaged glass to your nearest Family Recycling Centre.

I can’t recycle all my recycling as there isn’t sufficient house in my recycling bin

On assortment day, you may put further recycling alongside your most important recycling bins or baggage. It’s usually greatest to make use of clear bins, baggage or spare recycling containers. Examine along with your native council for particulars.

Massive cardboard gadgets are usually collected if flattened and laid alongside your recycling bin.

In case you have a big household, contact your district or borough council to see in the event you qualify for an additional recycling bin.

You possibly can’t recycle pizza bins

You possibly can – simply not the greasy bits. If the field is greasy, tear the lid off and solely recycle the clear bit. Earlier than recycling the field, make sure you’ve scraped any leftover pizza into your meals waste bin.

Cardboard that’s lined in meals or fat is deemed non-recyclable. Some cardboard that protects frozen/chilled meals is plastic laminated, so it will probably’t be recycled at kerbside.

Plastic labelled as ‘compostable’ could be put within the recycle bin

Hold plastic merchandise marketed as biodegradable or compostable out of your recycling bin, as they will disrupt efforts to repurpose basic plastics.

Furthermore, these supplies could not break down sufficient in family natural bins. So until the label says the product is licensed Residence Compostable, it’s usually greatest to place these things on the whole waste.

Smooth plastic can’t be recycled

(Largely) False
Smooth plastics are light-weight plastics that always can’t be positioned in recycling bins at dwelling.

This contains plastic buying baggage, yoghurt lids, and meals wrappers.

Some kinds of comfortable plastic could be recycled at service bag assortment factors on the bigger shops of main supermarkets equivalent to Waitrose and Lidl.

Bigger shops of main supermarkets settle for:

  • All plastic baggage, besides biodegradable or compostable baggage
  • Bread baggage
  • Breakfast cereal liners
  • Bubble wrap
  • Supply baggage
  • Dry cleansing baggage
  • Frozen meals baggage
  • Journal and newspaper wrappers
  • Multi-pack wrapping
  • Plastic marked as low-density polyethene (LDPE) – resin ID code 4
  • Rest room roll wrapping

Chosen shops of main supermarkets additionally settle for:

  • Child, pet meals, detergent and cleansing pouches
  • Biscuits and chocolate wrapping
  • Cheese, fish and meat wrapping
  • Cling movie
  • Crisp and candy baggage
  • Plastic movie lids
  • Salad, pasta, and rice baggage

Shredded paper can’t be recycled

This will appear counterintuitive, however shredded paper can not at all times be recycled.

Many paper mills received’t settle for it as shredded items are too small to be collected by way of the Supplies Recycling Facility (MFR).

Paper towels and tissues are recyclable

The cardboard internal tube of kitchen rolls and bins of tissues is broadly collected as a part of family recycling schemes.

Nevertheless, kitchen rolls and tissues aren’t appropriate for recycling. It is because kitchen rolls could also be contaminated with meals waste, categorized as a contaminant.

Used sheets of kitchen roll ought to be positioned in your garbage bin until your council tells you in any other case.

Some will will let you put a small kitchen towel within the meals waste bin – test along with your native authority within the first occasion.

Tissues can’t be recycled as they’re fabricated from very quick fibres, which aren’t excessive sufficient high quality to be recycled.

They are going to have to be disposed of in your waste bin.

Cleansing cloths and moist wipes will not be recyclable

That blue-and-white (or generally green- or red-and-white) cleansing cloths are fabricated from plastic, not paper, and so are moist wipes, they usually can not go within the recycling bin. Generally the fabric can really feel like paper, however a great way to test if one thing is plastic is to attempt to tear it. Woven plastic like this received’t tear like paper.

The identical applies to disposable masks: plastic and never recyclable!

These cleansing cloths are destined for the overall waste bin. The best choice is to attempt to discover a actually compostable reusable various (these Swedish dishcloths are nice) or perhaps a plastic-free kitchen towel.

Takeaway espresso cups are recyclable

False (For family recycling)
Disposable espresso and paper drink cups will not be at the moment accepted by way of family recycling collections. They need to be positioned in your basic waste container until particularly requested for by your native authority. Nevertheless – Some espresso store chains have launched on-site recycling assortment factors for cups. Costa Espresso at the moment accepts any disposable takeaway cup by way of considered one of their 2,600+ shops. There’s a nationwide espresso cup recycling scheme and numerous different schemes in place throughout the UK. Starbucks collects thousands and thousands of used paper espresso cups of their shops yearly, turning them right into a Starbucks Round Cup.

All of your recycling is recycled

We dream of this after we rigorously clear and place our recycling into the assigned bin, however the actuality is bittersweet. There’s a drop-off at every stage of the recycling course of within the UK.

For instance, of all of the recycling acquired, 60 per cent is forwarded to MRFs (blended restoration services). Right here, there may be more likely to be extra waste siphoned off. What sort of sorting system is in place can be decisive. A kerbside system, the place recycling operatives type merchandise by materials, is simpler than a very ‘commingled’ system the place all of the recycling reaches the ability blended. Nevertheless, in the event you’re recycling optimally, there’s a good probability it is going to attain its closing vacation spot.

Plastic buying and bin baggage will not be recyclable

True, if full
They’re if they’re empty by way of entrance of retailer assortment factors.

As a consequence of security causes, baggage aren’t usually opened at recycling-sorting services. So, in case your recycling is in a black bin bag, it is going to go to a landfill. As a substitute, use clear eco-friendly baggage on your recyclables.

In case you have plastic baggage in the home, reuse them as usually as potential whenever you store or return them to grocery store recycling centres.

You possibly can add hand cleaning soap pump dispensers to your recycling

Not true
Hand wash pumps and refill pouches can’t be recycled by way of conventional UK council recycling programs. Discard these with landfill refuse, then rinse and recycle the cleaning soap container.

Nevertheless, Carex and recycling consultants TerraCycle launched the Carex Recycling Programme, a free nationwide recycling programme for all manufacturers of hand wash pumps and refill pouches.

You possibly can’t recycle kitchen foil

(Largely) False
Two-thirds of respondents to The British Science Affiliation survey didn’t know you may recycle used kitchen foil. Earlier than including used foil to the recycling, wipe off meals residue, then wash it together with the remainder of the washing up. It’s additionally necessary to test its truly aluminium foil and never metalised plastic. To do that you should utilize a easy scrunch take a look at. Merely scrunch the merchandise right into a ball in your hand if it stays crunched it’s foil, if it springs again it’s extra more likely to be a metalised plastic and shouldn’t be added to your recycling container.

Foil has completely different properties to cans, so it may be seen as a contaminant within the can stream. So, until the council permits it, please don’t put it in. Nevertheless, some councils do settle for it, and it’s recycled into a unique grade of Al with cans.

Foil takeaway trays and disposable barbecue trays can be recycled.

At Ecoveritas, we’re always searching for to higher the buyer and business relationship, drive schooling, and supply modern options to companies.

By breaking down myths and being clear with the reality about recycling, we are able to collectively make massive steps to fight the local weather disaster and ship higher worth waste options.

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