Believe it or not but it’s that time again, and this year you have to ‘Step It Up’ for 2021’s recycle week. For 18 years now resources charity WRAP have launched their ‘Recycle Week’ Campaign. ‘Recycle Week’ centres around encouraging UK residents to be more mindful of their involvement in the fight against climate change. This year’s theme is ‘Step It Up’ which comes after a survey revealed that 55% of households still put recyclable items in the general waste bin. The reasons behind this can be as simple as not knowing that these items could be recycled.
Why Bother Joining Recycle Week?
As the infamous phrase goes, ignorance is bliss, so why should we pay attention to recycling and climate change now? To start with it is almost impossible not to pay attention now as the noise surrounding it gets lounder and there are more and more influential people working towards a greener future. Since it’s become harder to block out the noise, then it’s the perfect time to start listening, and what a better time than ‘Recycle Week’
Now we aren’t saying you have to start growing all your own produce, live of the land, cycle to work and fit solar panels to your house. Whilst everything listed there would be a great step towards a greener future, these aren’t goals/things everyone can accommodate. Recycle Week ‘Step It Up’ is about focusing on changing small but powerful habits. So let’s start with recycling as we can save 18 million tonnes of CO2 a year by recycling alone. This small change has the same environmental impact as taking 12 million cars off the road.
We can also make 20 aerosols and four shampoo bottles from recycled materials using the same energy it would take to make one aerosol and shampoo bottle. After last years Recycle Week we saw the power of educating people with 89% of those who got involved said they have changed their recycling behaviours. Fun Fact: by recycling 1 single plastic bottle you’re saving enough energy to power a lightbulb for 3 hours or more.
The Hard Facts
Whilst we recycle 44% of our waste here in England our neighbours are doing slightly better, with Wales recycling 57% and Northern Ireland at 46%, however Scotland falls marginally behind at 43%. In the UK we are improving our recycling at a slow rate with it only increasing by 3% in 11 years. When looking at who we should be learning from, the recycling world-leaders are Germany, Austria and South Korea. A report by DEFRA revealed that the average British household creates over 26m tonnes of waste every year, this is the same weight as roughly 260 large cruise ships.
Plastic is one of the most important items to recycle as it takes up to 500 years to fully decompose, and in last 50 years we now make and use 20 times more plastic. Despite the ‘war on plastic’ we are still not recycling 55% of it, meaning 8 million tonnes of world’s plastic ends up in the ocean every year, throwing away enough plastic in one year to circle the world 5 times.
Glass doesn’t decompose and therefore puts a huge strain on landfills and the fight against climate change. In the UK we are still throwing out 5 out of every 6 glass bottles, even though we have 50,000 bottle banks and each bank can hold up to 3,000 bottles. We are currently only working towards recycling 50% of our glass, with the average household using 500 glass bottles and jars every year, which means we are seeing almost 250 of those going to landfills.
What You’re Doing Right
Lets not just focus on what we aren’t doing though as it is important to celebrate the wins. When it comes to recycling paper we are recycling roughly 80% here in the UK; making it the most recycled item. Not only that but over half of the fibre used by the European paper industry now comes from recycled paper.
We know that glass is 100% recyclable and milk bottles are being used an average of 13 times before being recycled in the UK. Not only that but the energy it saves to use recycled glass instead of new saves enough energy to launch 10 space shuttle missions in just the UK alone. Fun Fact: Green bottles contain 90% of recycled glass whereas clear glass bottles contact around 25%.
What Else You Can Be Doing This Recycle Week
Now that we understand that we are making some of the the right moves to a brighter and greener future, lets see what else we can be doing to ‘Step It Up’, and fix those hard facts.
WRAP believe that 25% of our waste electrical and electronic equipment that we waste can be repaired and re-used. Which means even if you have out grown the item you could sell it second hand and get yourself some money back for your purchase, you could even sell them via Preloved. Some other quick fix tips are:
- Stop unwanted mail (such as look into online banking and stop getting your statements through the post)
- Think before you shop (look for longer lasting items, such as reusable coffee cups, rechargeable batteries, bags for life)
- What’s rubbish to you could be someone else’s treasure (when looking at clearing out why not sell your old items on Preloved instead of sending them to the tip)
- Avoid food waste (plan your weekly meals and look into composting)
- Re-paint (you can donate your left over paint to your local charities)
Recycling – Getting Started
Remember that recycling goes further than just your house, are you recycling at work if not is it something that you could push as a new initiative.
- Find out what it is you can recycle (check out recycle now’s guide on what you can and can’t recycle here)
- Recycle on your doorstep (9 out of 10 residents in the UK have recycling facilities with boxes/bags provided by your local council, so if you don’t give them a call to check)
- What day is it collected (you can request a recycling calendar from your council)
- You need to wash glass (make sure you rinse your glass jars and containers)
- Keep your bins together (if you keep your recycling bins next to your normal bins you’re more than likely to remember to recycle them)
- ‘Drop when you shop’ (use the supermarket recycling points to drop of your rubbish when you do your weekly shop)
Why not check out some of our previous Recycle Week blogs with helpful tips on how to recycle and reuse.
- Recycle Week: Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags
- Recycle Week: Ways to Reuse Aluminium Drinks Cans
- Why Should We Recycle?
- 9 Eco-Friendly Ways to Recycle Your Cat’s Used Items
Good luck on starting your journey to a more sustainable lifestyle, helping us and many others to work towards a brighter and greener future.