The guide to recycling at home

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A survey has found that Brits are confused about what can and cannot be recycled but while different polices have left many puzzled there’s still an appetite for disposing of waste in a responsible manner. By the end of the decade the UK aims to recycle half of all household waste and greater understanding around recyclable goods will need to be achieved if that target is to be met.

According to a survey, the materials that most people are confused about whether or not they can recycle are thin plastic wrapping, mobile phones, disposable coffee cups, crisp packets and lightbulbs. Despite the confusion it also found there is a desire to learn more, with almost three quarters stating they would like more transparency around what happens to their waste.

While UK consumers believe recycling household waste will continue to grow, accounting for almost two-thirds of waste in the next five years, education on what can be recycled is important. Accidently mixing a non-recyclable item in with recyclables can contaminate the whole bin and be a costly and time consuming task to rectify for the council.

Much of the confusion stems from the fact that different councils apply their own rules, for instance some operate a one box system where all recyclables can be placed while others provide several. In some cases, there can be differences between what materials are recyclable too as this may be dependent on local facilities for sorting and managing recyclables. While the government sets each local authority targets, they are given the flexibility to decide how best to meet the goals, resulting in many different schemes across the UK.

The introduction of on-pack food recycling labels aimed to make recycling simpler but the labels can still be puzzling. For instance, even an item with a ‘widely recycled’ label may still need checking before it goes in the recycle bin as it simply means that three quarters or more of councils provide household recycling collection facilities for that packaging type.

If you don’t already use these tips they could help you boost your household recycling:

• Have a separate recycling bin – Splitting up your rubbish as soon as you’re going to throw it away makes recycling much easier. Having a separate bin or bag means you’ll think about whether an item is recyclable too.

• Think about all your waste – While most people will rinse and recycle tins, they often forget about other metallic items that can be recycled too, such as kitchen foil or deodorant cans. Before you throw anything out think about which bin it should go in.

• Check your local council’s website – If you’re unsure about whether you can recycle a specific item check your local council’s website for details for your area, they should have a section that lets you know exactly what can go in your bin.

• Recycle your electronics – If you’re getting rid of electronic equipment or white goods you can use specialist service to ensure these are disposed of in a responsible manner.

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