We throw stuff in the recycle bin and for the most part, we hope we’ve got it right.
Does it any difference at all. Where does all that rubbish go?
Knowledge is motivation. If we’re not sure where that baked bean tin ends up, will we do the best we can to recycle?
Well, this week is Recycle Week in the UK, and a survey about recycling habits and knowledge has unearthed some interesting findings.
Overall, it found that while 82% of people thought recycling makes a difference, most people didn’t know how the process worked.
Eight out of 10 people don’t know that empty aerosol cans are often used as parts for mobile phones.
Over two thirds didn’t know that a recycled shampoo bottle goes into making children’s toys.
Many didn’t believe plastic bottles are recycled into football/sports shirts.
.. Or that using recycled plastic takes 75% less energy than using a raw material.
.. Or that using recycled metal uses 95% less energy than a product from ‘new’ material.
And would you believe …
If we recycle all the steel packaging we use in a year, it would save enough energy to make 50,000 returns train journeys between London and Edinburgh!
Recycling glass saves enough energy to chill 34 bottles of wine each day for every UK household. (We love this one!)
Recycling just one drinks can could save enough energy to power a TV for four hours.
In the UK per year, we use over half a million tonnes of metal packaging and nearly 2 million tonnes of glass packaging.
Currently, we recycle an estimated:
75% of steel packaging;
60% of glass packaging; and
50% of aluminium packaging.
That’s good – but it’s still 25% of steel packaging cans that aren’t making it to the recycling bin.
40% of glass bottles and jars being thrown into landfill.
50% of aluminium drinks cans, foil trays and deodorant cans missing their opportunity to become something new.
44% of plastic bottles used in the UK are not put in the recycling bin, which means 29 billion bottles are avoiding their future as a sports shirt in the four years up to 2020. That is a shame!
So, we’re doing great but we can do better!
The focus of this year’s Recycle Week is to motivate people to recycle by helping us understand exactly why and how it works.
Every item you put into that recycle bin gets sorted and separated by machines, magnets and even laser. Most of that, maybe not all, but most ends up as something else.
And that ‘something else’ – be it clothes, shoes, toys, or phone parts will not have used even more raw materials and energy the planet can’t afford to use.
The most important thing to remember is that today – recycled material is a valuable commodity. It has pound signs attached!
And that fact more than anything will make sure that they get re-used, and importantly NOT end up in landfill (which costs money).
So, if you ever doubt your recycling bin again, remember that every single item is a small but essential win for the planet.
It does make a difference. Keep recycling people.