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Busting those recycling myths

With the daunting prospect of irreversible damage to our planet potentially soon becoming a reality, it is important now, more than ever, that we are all doing what we can to help sustain our environment. Even the smallest of individual efforts can have a big impact, and one of the best ways to start can be done right from the comfort of your own home – recycling! However, although recycling is a rather accessible task for each and every one of us, the process of what can and cannot be recycled can often be a puzzling one, which ultimately discourages many people from even bothering to recycle.

Can that grease-stained pizza box be re-used? Or is the lid on your plastic Coke bottle actually recyclable? What about that satisfying sheet of bubble wrap that your fancy new birthday present has been wrapped in?

If you find the whole recycling process an off-putting one, you’re not alone, and there’s no need to worry! Here are some recycling myths and facts to eliminate any concerns that you may have about whether or not that pile of used batteries left over from Christmas can go in your general recycling or not.

The Myths

1. The biggest red herring of all...

The classic Mobius Loop logo doesn’t mean that the product can be recycled. Rather, it simply means that it has the possibility of being recycled. So, make sure you check before throwing it in with the rest of your recycling.

2. Items cannot be recycled more than once

This isn’t exactly true. While paper does lose quality each time it’s recycled, glass and metal have the ability to continuously be recycled without losing any quality or becoming damaged.

Even so, if something can only be recycled once, it’s still much better for the environment if we re-use any product as many times as we possibly can.

3. My recycling still gets sorted if I don’t correctly separate it

While you may think that it’s okay to place all your recycling in one bin, it can contaminate other items and result in them no longer qualifying for recycling. On average, it is estimated that about a quarter of what you put in your recycling bin ends up being unable to be recycled.

4. Any type of plastic can be recycled

Although this seems like a reasonable assumption, unfortunately it’s not the case. Black plastic cannot be recycled due to it absorbing the light. This results in machines not being able to detect the items.

The Facts

1. Contaminated items aren’t recyclable Although takeaway pizza boxes are usually made from cardboard, more often than not they can’t be recycled due to the grease that stains them. If there’s only a very small stain then it should be okay to recycle, but anything more should be placed alongside your non-recyclable waste.

2. Your gift wrapping materials most likely can’t be recycled

Many gifts or fragile items that we buy tend to come protected in materials such as bubble wrap or polystyrene, which are often mistaken for being recyclable, but in fact are not.

Similarly, wrapping paper can be a difficult one, due to the coatings used to create certain paper. WRAP have a quick test to decide whether or not it can be recycled. Simply scrunch the paper up, and if stays scrunched up then it can be placed in your recycling, but if it flattens back out then it has substances covering it which stop it from being recycled.

3. Batteries can be recycled, just not with your general recycling

It’s important that you don’t put your used batteries in with your normal recycling. 98% of lead acid batteries can be recycled, but they must be disposed of correctly. Many supermarkets offer collection boxes for old batteries. If in doubt, contact your local council and they will be able to advise you where’s best to discard them.

4. Don’t just throw your electrical goods away

With the constant stream of new smartphones, tablets, cameras, and other electrical products continuously becoming available to us on what seems to be a daily basis, the correct disposal of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is becoming a rising issue.

Only 3% of mobile phones are estimated to be recycled even though phone companies will often offer you money in return for your old device. If a company sells electrical products, according to the WEEE waste directive, they are obliged to offer customers a way to dispose of their old products. The first way is to accept the products back in store for free, or alternatively, they must offer another free take-back scheme. Check with your local council as some electrical goods can be collected in your kerbside collection too.

On average, we each buy 3 new electrical items per year, or in other words, 173 million nationwide. So, don’t forget to recycle your old and unwanted electrical items.

Recycling doesn’t have to be a difficult task. But now that you’ve had some common myths busted and been given some insightful facts regarding the recycling process, this should set you well on your way to a stress-free decision of what can and cannot go in your recycling bin.

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