What would make you recycle more?

How much do you recycle?

Most of us recycle some of the time. Probably easy stuff like newspapers and cans. Maybe plastic bottles if your local authority collects them. There is lots more that can be recycled, of course, but many people simply don’t. Maybe they are confused about what is recyclable, can’t be bothered to wash things out or sort items into different bags or don’t really think it is important. So what would make you recycle more?

Our local council is about to bring in some quite dramatic changes to our rubbish collections, which might actually make people recycle more. At least I hope they recycle rather than deciding to tip everything by the side of the road or in a quiet beauty spot!

How to change behaviour and recycle more

Recycling has been a thing for long enough that you would have thought people’s behaviour would have changed and that they would be in the habit of recycling. However, this is clearly not the case. Some of my neighbours never seem to put out anything except black bins. A few of my work colleagues throw cans and plastic bottles in the general rubbish even though the bin is right next to a recycling container (I spend quite a lot of time fishing them out and telling people off – I am the Recycling Police! I am constantly trying to get them to recycle more). It is not surprising then that some local councils have decided to take more draconian measures to change residents’ habits.

From next week they will only collect 3 black bags of rubbish per household per fortnight. For a smallish household such as mine who recycle quite a lot already this is fine. We generally produce about that much, although I am sure we can do better. For large households I can see this is going to prove quite a challenge.

However, I’m not that sympathetic.  The fact is that all food waste can be recycled and this is a lot of what ends up in the bin (don’t get me started on how much is too much!). Raw stuff like peelings can be composted; cooked and raw can go in the food waste bin.  This includes meat, fish and bones, as well as teabags and bread. Glass bottles and jars can go in the recycling bin.  Rinsed cans, tins and metal aerosols can go in too. Don’t forget the aluminium foil. Paper and card can easily be recycled.

Perplexing plastics

Plastics seem to be the area that causes the most confusion. Because folk don’t know what is recyclable they seem to recycle hardly any of it. You can recycle bottles, yogurt and cream pots, butter, ice cream or margarine tubs and plastic trays like those meat and fruit arrive in – just rinse them first. There are other items like roll on deodorant containers that can be recycled but you might not think about it.  I met the local waste and recycling officer when I worked as a polling clerk the other week. He told me that they were now using an excellent company who could recycle almost any type of plastic, so to throw it all in and they would sort it at the other end. I am tempted to do this as we will seriously shrink the amount that goes into our black bags.

I had a quick look at the British Plastics Federation website and this is what it says:

Nearly all types of plastics can be recycled, however the extent to which they are recycled depends upon technical, economic and logistic factors. As a valuable and finite resource, the optimum recovery route for most plastic items at the ‘end-of-life’ is to be recycled, preferably back into a product that can then be recycled again and again and so on. The UK uses over 5 million tonnes of plastic each year of which an estimated 29% is currently being recovered or recycled.

How about a compost heap?

We compost most of the garden waste, but put weeds in for the council to collect. We struggle with bindweed and don’t want to risk any seeds or roots surviving in the compost and spreading. If you have no space for a compost heap then let the council take it away.

I think we are pretty good at recycling at Shoestring Cottage but I know we can improve. This is the kick up the backside that we need. I hope the rest of the town follows suit! Are you a rampant recycler and, if not, what would motivate you to recycle more?

14 thoughts on “What would make you recycle more?

  1. Hi…..I have been enjoying your blog lately. Thanks for effort you put into writing every day! Just want to say that here in Hawaii we used to get two pickups of grey rubbish bin every week but now we get once a week and the other day is alternated between the blue recycle bin and the green garden waste bin. regarding plastics, apart from the soda/water bottles, we have to check on the bottom of the bottles to look for the triangle mark and see what number is written inside it. The city will only accept plastics marked 1 or 2 for recycling. The household waste in the grey bins all goes to a giant incinerator where it is burned to provide electricity.
    On a personal note, since Hawaii state started a 5 cent deposit on drink bottles and cans (about 12 years ago) I have been able to collect over $3000 worth while out on my exercise walks and bike rides. It is my reward for exercising in my retirement and the money goes into my travel account

  2. We don’t have any recycle here. It’s criminal, I think. We can take our papers to a big truck on Tues. between noon and 5:00. That’s the extent of it. We moved from a place where we were able to recycle almost everything. This rubs me the wrong way but there’s not a lot to be done.

    • Where are you? Can you complain to your local councillor? That’s a surprise in this day and age

  3. In Germany, we really have to recycle because our bin for general rubbish is emptied only every four weeks. We also have a bin for paper (emptied every four weeks, too), one for food waste (every fortnight) and one for plastic (every four weeks). There is a deposit on most glass and all plastic bottles, and there are big containers on parking lots etc for glass without deposit. It sounds complicated, but is actually quite simple.

  4. We recycle all that we can, I rinse out cans and plastic cartons, and recycle paper and cardboard and bottles, and anything else the Council allows into the recycling boxes. However, the Council made a bit mistake in my opinion because a few years ago it got rid of perfectly good green wheelie bins which were for the recycling waste and replaced them with two plastic boxes and a good waste bin (a much smaller one of course, with a little caddy for the kitchen, so you put your scraps into that and then put them into the food waste bin for collection.) However, the plastic boxes are open to the elements and Devon is notoriously wet, so each week we drag out boxes of paper and card and so forth that is totally sodden with water. This can be no use whatsoever for recycling – I asked the bin men and they say it’s dumped! Why not have kept the green bin for the cardboard and paper and the plastic boxes for bottles and cans? I dare say they’d have had to have had a special lorry for the cardboard and paper so that it wouldn’t be collected in one of those household waste lorries for the real rubbish (landfill rubbish), but with every household having plastic boxes filled with sodden cardboard and paper, surely a better tle of box could’ve been used?
    So what would I do to recycle more … well, before I recycle more, what about getting manufacturers to use only recyclable plastic for food produce? Such as those black trays in which they sell tomatoes which our Council don’t take for recycling, and metal lids from jars aren’t recycled either. Recycling needs to come from the top down, so that we, the consumers, aren’t faced with huge amounts of waste to recycle. I know that packaging has to keep food safe, but unless it is long-life food, which needs perhaps stronger non-recyclable plastic, surely lighter and recyclable plastic could be used?
    Also, our Council only allow two bags of household waste at a time at the Tip. We don’t have much of that, anyway, but for those with large amounts of household waste, and for whatever reason, surely only allowing two bags at a time must lead to fly tipping?
    Another thing I would do is to bring n legislation (if this were possible) to make all chargers for mobile phones and other electrical devices universal, like the 3-pin plug. Surely this is possible? We must all have drawers filled with chargers, many of them now out of date, all tangled together and eventually destined for the bin. This is one of the great sources of plastic waste, surely – the charger!
    Margaret P

    • Ooh, so many topics! I agree with you on the manufacturing issue. It should all be easily recyclable or the manufacturers should pay

  5. PS I meant food waste bin, not good waste bin! Also, even if it were possible to keep the plastic boxes for recycling under cover during the week (and who has space for those in their house or garden shed?) once they are put out the night before collection (as the bin men come around early in the morning … well, usually!) if it rains during the night, the cardboard and paper is still soaked through. It really is a waste!!!
    Margaret P

  6. Because we are up a private lane the bin lorry doesn’t come to the house so everything has to be taken to the end of the lane. The lady here before us decided bags would be easier than wheely bins so we have a two sorts of bags for recyclables and general rubbish. We compost everything possible so aim for 1 bag of recyclables a fortnight and 1 general rubbish a fortnight. Usually doable.
    Sue at “The Cottage at the end of a lane”

  7. I am a recycling zelot, if it can be recycled I will find a way to get it recycled. My daughter and I live in different council areas so we swap recycling . Rochford is usually a prize winner in the recycling league. We have 3 wheely bins 1 for garden waste and food waste but what can be composted goes in the bin at the bottom of the garden, 1 for mixed recycling and one for rubbish. Rubbish and recycling are emptied every 2 weeks with a plea not to use black bags as they add tons to the landfill. I recycle plastic bags at Waitrose, clothing goes to the charity shop, the council also collect clothing but I would rather go to a good cause most other things can be recycled at the tip. My green bin usually contains 1 chicken carcass, rubbish bin contains 1/2 carrier bag of rubbish emptied, recycling is usually quite full. The Rochford website contains an A to Z of reusing and recycling for most thing, it all works very well.

  8. We have a blue bin for general recycling of glass, metal, plastic and cardboard. Our grey bin for general household waste and a brown bin for garden waste. We used to be able to add certain food waste…teabags, eggshells, bones etc to that but they have stopped that now so it has to go into the grey bin as we don’t compost ourselves.
    There is also a bag for newspapers but we had a problem with that getting wet so we take that to the bins at the local supermarket. Any clothes, shoes not fit for the charity shop and larger pieces of cardboard are also taken there.
    I am never quite sure what to do with stuff like broken crockery so that ends up in the grey bin unless it has been used to line the base of a pot for the garden.

  9. The answer to the plastic problem is to make more use of glass bottles and jars. Glass is the most recyclable thing on the planet and I just don’t understand why it isn’t more commonly used. I hate the chemicals in plastics and avoid whenever possible. All drinks should be available in only glass bottles. I searched far and wide for water in a glass bottle in town one day but to no avail. An online search later showed that only one readily available is Voss. I bought some from Waitrose and refill my bottle every day. All my freezer storage containers are glass and I also use glass jars that have screw tops in the freezer. The worst thing they ever did was put milk in plastic containers – they taint the flavour.

    • I agree about plastic – far too much of the stuff everywhere! They use it because it is cheaper to make and lighter, so cheaper to transport I guess.

Comments are closed.