Recycling is one of the most common ways we can do our bit to participate in the circular economy and prevent waste going to landfill. Growing up we’re all taught about it, and we mostly know to separate our waste in to plastics, glass and tins and our paper and cardboard. But there are some myths floating around on what to recycle, how to recycle and what to avoid.
We’re here to bust those myths for you, so here’s our list on what to do and what not to do when it comes to recycling.
- Rinse your materials before you recycle them. There’s no need to put anything through the dishwasher or even to use soap – but if something you’re planning on recycling has been in contact with food or drink, it’s best to give it a quick rinse and dry it off to avoid any contamination.
- Take any film off of plastic trays such as cheese packets or ready meal containers. Plastic film can’t be recycled at regular recycling centres, and if it wrongly ends up at recycling facilities, it can get tangled in the machinery, which interferes with the recycling process. The hard plastic section is recyclable, and the film section can be taken to large supermarkets that operate a soft plastic recycling scheme.
- Recycle tin foil. Similarly to plastic bottle lids, tin foil won’t make it through the recycling system if it’s smaller than around the size of a tennis ball. Our suggestion is to keep an ever-growing ball of tin foil by your recycling and add all your used and rinsed tin foil to it. Once it’s large enough it’s perfectly fine to go in the recycling!
- Recycle aerosol cans. It’s common to think they can’t be recycled but as long as they’re empty, you’re good to go! Always remember to recycle empty cans of deodorant, furniture polish, air fresheners and other aluminium too such as clean foil takeaway containers.
- Wishcycle. Wishcycling is the act of putting something in the recycling with no real idea of whether it’s recyclable at all and hoping it’s fine. Recycling centres report things like frying pans, circuit boards and computers among some of the things that are ‘wishcycled’ every single day. If you’re not sure whether it’s recyclable, do a quick search and you’ll find out in no time and prevent hold ups at the recycling facility.
- Take lids off of your plastic bottles to recycle them. If you recycle your lids on their own, they’ll be deemed too small by the machinery used and won’t get recycled. Leave them on your bottles and they’ll be recycled whole!
- Don’t recycle anything soft enough to poke a hole through, or smaller than a credit card. Soft plastics are accepted at most large Tesco, Co-op and Sainsbury stores so these can be stored and taken there.
- Think that recycling doesn’t do anything! Whilst the recycling system could definitely be refined, and we wish more items made it through – without it, tonnes and tonnes more rubbish would be sent to landfill. In the UK alone, recycling saves about 10-15 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year, which is the equivalent of taking 3.5 million cars off the road. It also saves money. It costs 8 times more to send your recycling to landfill than it does to recycle it.
Of course, at OceanSaver, our priority is and will always be refilling and reusing. But recycling is an incredibly important way to enter in to the world of sustainability and do our planet a favour. If you can reuse something you’re about to recycle – do it! And don’t forget to hold on to your old cleaning spray bottles so you can become an OceanSaver. BUT if it’s not something you can repurpose, then making sure you recycle properly is the next best step.