What is reducing?
This simply means making less waste in the first place. It is the best way to help our planet as it stops the problem at the source.
This can be as simple as opting to buy loose fruit and vegetables instead of ones which are pre-packaged or buying music digitally instead of a physical copy.
What is reusing?
This is taking an item you would normally throw away and using it again.
Examples include refilling a water bottle instead of buying a new one each time or donating gently worn clothes to charity.
Read our tips on how you can reuse here
What is recycling?
This means taking our rubbish and turning it into something new.
Read more of our tips on recycling here
What can I recycle at home?
This will depend on where you live.
Check on your local council’s website to find what you can put in all of your bins:
Where can I find out more about recycling and reducing waste?
What are single use plastics?
These are products that are made of plastic, which are designed to be used once and then thrown away. These include items such as drinks bottles, plastic straws, plastic stemmed cotton buds, drink stirrers, packaging and cling film.
Plastic takes a long time to break down and can remain in our environment for many years. Therefore, it is important that we use it sustainably and for as long as possible.
What is climate change? And why is it related to waste and recycling?
Climate change is a natural process that causes changes in temperature, rainfall and weather. Natural climate change is being impacted and increased by our actions. Since the industrial revolution, the rate at which the climate is changing is becoming faster and more extreme. This is being caused by increased levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and Methane.
The biggest source of carbon dioxide is from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas for energy. Waste that breaks down in landfill produces methane. This is a greenhouse gas with a greater warming potential than carbon dioxide.
The extraction raw materials, such as oil for plastics, ores for metals and wood for paper, requires a large amount of energy. It is therefore important to keep these materials useful for as long as possible through reducing, re-using and recycling, rather than extracting new materials.
Read our page on why it is important to recycle here
Where can I find more information about Climate change?
Do you provide educational resources for schools?
Currently we do not have any of own resources however, there are many available online. Here are some of our favourites:
Does my general waste go to landfill?
Waste sent to landfill is taxed and therefore an expensive option for local authorities. This is why it is only sent to landfill as a last resort but this depends on where you live. If you are unsure what happens to your waste contact your local council’s waste and recycling department to ask.
If you live in Barnsley, Doncaster or Rotherham, your leftover household waste (all the rubbish left after you have recycled and composted at home) is taken to the BDR waste treatment facility. Here it is treated using mechanical biological treatment and anaerobic digestion. As much waste as possible is separated for recycling or to make electricity and compost products on site and what remains is turned into fuel. The fuel is then taken to Multifuel in Ferrybridge, West Yorkshire where it is used to generate green electricity.
In Sheffield, leftover household waste goes to the Energy Recovery Facility located on Bernard Road in Sheffield. Here it is used to generate heat and green electricity that is used for the district heating system and to power homes and businesses.
Why do all Councils not collect the same materials/ have the same bins?
The answer is not straightforward as there are lots of things to consider. The main reason councils collect different materials is that they have contracts with different recycling re-processors who each want slightly different materials. The container (e.g. box, bin, caddy) will depend on the types of housing in each area and what storage space residents have available.
The government is working towards standardised collections in the UK. For more information on this, check out the resource and waste strategy for England here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/resources-and-waste-strategy-for-england
Jargon and symbols
Knowing whether items can be recycled or not is sometimes confusing. Here are some important things you should consider when looking at your rubbish:
As there is an increased demand in sustainable plastic alternatives, companies and manufacturers are keen to use different types of plastics. The descriptions they use can be misleading and often leave people confused. Here are some of the key words you need to look out for:
This appears on many items of packaging and can lead to confusion if it conflicts with advice given by your local council. Just because an item is recyclable, doesn’t necessarily mean that it can be recycled at home or in your local area. Please follow the latest advice available from your Council. If in doubt about any item, leave it out of your recycling and add it to your general waste.
Compostable and Biodegradable
The terms biodegradable and compostable are sometimes used interchangeably on packaging and products. However, they have different meanings.
Biodegradable items break down naturally in the environment thanks to the help of bacteria and other livings organisms. This doesn’t mean that it is necessarily good for planet. For example, some plastic packaging which claims to be biodegradable can remain in our environment for up to 20 years in the form of micro plastics.
Compostable items are made of organic matter and can break down as part of a composting process. However, most of these items require composting under industrial conditions and will not compost in a garden composter or the garden waste collected by the councils.
Bio-based plastics are made, fully or partially, from renewable biological resources such as sugar cane and starch. You may see these used to replace traditional oil-based plastics such disposable plastic cutlery and plastic packaging.
Polylactic Acid (PLA).
One of the most-common bio-plastics is a type of polyester called polylactic acid (PLA). Although this is often described as being compostable, PLA is only compostable through industrial processes such as IVC (in-vessel composting). In a home compost bin PLA will not degrade as it does not reach a high enough temperature to break down. If it is not disposed of properly it can become a pollutant on the land and in the sea.
Recycling symbols appear on many items. They‘re used to help us identify how different types of packaging can be recycled. What each symbol means can be confusing. For help identifying each symbol visit https://www.recyclenow.com/recycling-knowledge/packaging-symbols-explained
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