Many of you are aware that recycling your waste is the way forward, but are you actually aware of what happens to our recycled waste once your bin collection is over?
Ever since people became aware of the need to protect the environment and conserve natural resources, there’s been a concerted effort worldwide to practice the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Of the three, office recycling has seen the most application in business settings. The reason for this is, while Reducing and Reusing can be done in domestic properties heavily and frequently, it is not as easy to do so within business premises. Across the UK, we are now recycling on average about 25% of our rubbish – much more than in recent years, but still behind many European countries. Councils trying to keep up with European and UK government recycling targets have been introducing all sorts of different measures to encourage us to recycle more. In fact, recycling increasingly seems to be becoming a compulsory, rather than voluntary, activity. Some councils have fined people for putting the wrong rubbish in recycling bags, reduced rubbish collections to fortnightly, and put microchips on bins ahead of possible “pay as you throw” regimes. Many people welcome this move towards recycling because it is good for the environment.
But where does our recycled waste actually go…
Most of our recycled waste appears to be conducted in the UK, with many of the finished products also being used within the UK, although some also end up abroad. Bottles, tins and plastic containers were turned back into more packaging but also transformed into objects including bricks, road surfacing materials, loft insulation, and car parts. On the whole, though recycling appears to travel some miles – but not thousands, more like hundreds or even tens. Most of this going to China but here lies the problem we now face.
China bans foreign waste – but what will happen to the world’s recycling? Read more…
Plastic waste is a major concern!!!!!
Plastics collected for recycling could go to energy recovery (incineration). They are, after all, a fossil-fuel based material and burn extremely well – so on a positive note, they could generate electricity and improve energy self-sufficiency. Many local authorities collect recycling that is jumbled together. But a major side effect of this type of collection is that while it is convenient for the householder, there are high contamination levels which leads to reduced material quality. This will mean it is either sold for lower prices into a limited market, will need to be reprocessed through sorting plants, or will be incinerated or put in landfill. But changes to recycling collections and reprocessing to improve the quality of materials could be expensive.