Recycling is the process of collecting unwanted materials and turning them into new products or materials that can be used again. Generally, the recycled product will be the same as the original product. For example, old glass bottles are commonly broken down and made into new glass bottles.
Waste materials can also be ‘downcycled’. This is where a material is broken down and made into something different. Did you know that old glass is sometimes used to help make roads? Products can be ‘upcycled’ too. Here, waste materials are turned into something of better quality or higher environmental value.
Yes! We’re running out of space to bury rubbish in the UK. And fast. Experts have predicted that existing landfill sites will be full by 2017. That’s just five years away! But this is not just an issue of space. Making products from recycled materials can be far less damaging to the environment. For example, a whopping 70% less energy is required to make recycled paper compared to making it from raw materials*. Recycling conserves resources. Recycling saves energy. Recycling protects the environment. What’s stopping us doing more? Nothing.
In the UK, much more can be recycled than people think. As much as 60% of the stuff we throw away could be saved from landfill, from dishwashers to drink cartons and from beds to bikes. Even really obscure things like hearing aids and car batteries can be recycled. The 'Recycle Now' website lists 80 different items that are commonly recycled in the UK. To find out what they are and to see if they are recycled near you, visit the website.
Even the best recycling intentions and the tightest production policies aren’t much good if nobody knows what the recycling symbols on packaging represent. The Mobius loops, trees, ticks and arrows that make up these symbols can be confusing too. So what do they actually mean? This handy page from the 'Recycle Now' website has a short explanation of each. Read it, read it again and show your empty packaging who’s boss.
No. Providing you drive less than one kilometre you’ll save carbon by taking just two wine bottles to the bottle bank, according to research from sustainability consultants 'Best Foot Forward'. Combine your bottles with other recycling materials such as magazines, papers and compost and the benefits soon stack up and easily outweigh the emissions from your car.