Recycling – what we’ve learnt this week

Up to 60 per cent of rubbish that ends up in an average household bin can be recycled. And we’re talking everything from soft drink cans to pizza boxes to unwanted fruit and vegetables. Even your old electronics can take on a new life.

And that’s just as well, because electrical and electronic waste is now the fastest growing waste stream in the UK. Around 1 million tonnes of the stuff are generated every year. How do we know this? Because the issue is being highlighted as part of National Recycling Week this week (21-27 June).

Take a look at just how valuable electrical and electronic waste recycling really is:

Recycling – where does it go?

So, to play our part for National Recycling Week, we delved into the mysterious world of recycling to find out what happens to your household waste once it leaves your recycling bin.

1. Your council’s recycling crew collect your recycling – so far so good.

2. When the round is complete, the recycling vehicle is driven to an area to be bulked up.

3. Your recycling is then transported (along with everyone else’s) to a Materials Recycling Facility. This is where it gets interesting. Here, your recycling takes a trip down a series of conveyer belts and gets sorted out using various equipment, including a trommel. A what? A trommel. It looks like a huge washing machine and acts like a sieve, with magnets to separate the steel and special ‘eddy current’ magnets to separate the aluminium.

Take a virtual tour of the Materials Recycling Facility in Greenwich. It’s cooler than you’d think!

4. There is a manual sort at the end to ensure nothing has slipped through before the different materials are baled separately to be sold and transported to reprocessing facilities.

5. Finally just like magic your seemingly useless waste is transformed into brand new stuff.  Your aluminum soft drink cans could be used to help make a car bonnet or a wing of a plane.  Card and paper can help produce affordable books. Plastic drink bottles can to be turned into new a rain mac or the casing of your mobile. Even your organic kitchen waste can be used to make a biofuel!

Don’t know where to start?

There are many different ways to get involved in recycling in your area so why not go green this summer and visit your local council’s website to find out how.

Recycle Now has a handy postcode locator to find your nearest recycling centre that accepts waste electricals. Items such as kitchen appliances, mobile phones, computers, TV’s, electrical and electronic tools can all be either recycled or reused.

Visit Recycle Now for more information on national recycle week and general recycling advice.


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