The Least Recycled Item in Your Home
Almost all household waste can be recycled or re-used but lots still end up in landfill. There are many possible contenders for the least recycled item – it could be electronics, furniture, plastics, food or something else entirely. Understanding which items are not being recycled will help us to focus our efforts and ensure more waste is recycled or reused.
In 2014 the amount of household waste that was recycled reached 44.9%, this is in line with national and EU targets but there is still a lot more that can be done. Some European nations are really blazing a trail – Germany recycled over 60% of waste for example. To get to this point more items need to be recycled or reused and Britain needs to be less reliant on landfill.
Surprisingly food waste often ends up in landfill despite there being many better ways to dispose of it. Every year 16 million tonnes of food waste is produced and the majority ends up in landfill. This is despite the fact that it is £44 per tonne cheaper to recycle than put into landfill. Food waste can be used to make compost or as part of anaerobic digestion to produce energy. Either way it is far more effective than simply throwing it in landfill.
Looking across to the US gives some idea about how poorly managed furniture recycling is. In 2008 the material recovery rate managed to reach 0.1% – this shows how much is wasted. Both the US and UK spend a lot of money buying furniture each year – this is somewhere in the region of £10bn. Each year Almost 1.6 million tonnes of bulky waste is collected and 42% of this is furniture. Much of this is not recovered, recycled or reused. More needs to be done to prevent these resources being thrown into landfill.
Many of the products bought on a daily basis come in a variety of containers that are usually made out of recyclable materials but these often end up in landfill. Aluminium is widely recycled because it is actually cheaper to recycle it than make it but still only 40% of aluminium waste in the UK is recycled. This figure is reflected in other packaging materials too. Only 31% of packaging plastic is recycled. This shows that more needs to be done to ensure packaging materials are not wasted in this way.
How do you think recycling rates can be improved? Share your thoughts in the comments and on our social media pages.