Green Living Centre
Email: info@greenlivingcentre.org.uk

Waste

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Buy Recycled

Reduce - Buy only what you need, buy products with minimal packaging
Reuse - Don't just bin it, could someone else make use of it?
Recycle - Put waste into the appropriate recycling bins or banks so that it can be made into something new.

Friends of the Earth have 50+ top tips for cutting waste.

What's the problem?

Last year, only 22% of British waste was recyled. In Austria it was 64%. So what are we throwing away?

An average bin contains -

35% Kitchen and garden waste that could be composted
25% paper, easliy recycled
11% plastic, some but not all ca be recycled
9% metal easy to recycle, mainly steel and aluminium drink cans
9% glass again this colud be recycled
11% the rest -old clothers, toys etc

(Source: Friends of the Earth)

Reduce

Ways to reduce waste include purchasing goods that use less packaging, sharing or renting things (like carpet cleaners) and most importantly by encouraging longer lasting products, avoiding buying 'built-in-obsolescence'.

Reuse

Ipswich Recycle allows you to give away things you no longer need and would otherwise throw away. This is a great way of keeping things out of landfill.
Note: Ipswich Recycle was previously known as Ipswich Freecycle.

If you have furniture that you want to get rid of that is in good condition, contact the Ipswich Furniture Project.

Disposable nappies result in a lot of waste. The Suffolk Real Nappy Network provides alternatives.

Why not buy second-hand? Gumtree has local classified ads.

Buy long-lasting bags for shopping (e.g. cotton or hemp bags, 'bag for life') and take them with you each time - don't use the flimsy plastic bags supplied by the supermarkets.

Recycle

Of the 13 billion steel cans used in the UK each year only 2.5 billion are recycled. This alone saves 125,00 tonnes of solid waste from going to land fill. A recycled can can become a new can in 6 to 8 weeks.

Plastic bottles produced 500,000 tonnes of non-biodegrdable rubbish each year. They can take up to 450 years to break down in landfill.

Why recycle?

Recycling reduces the demand for raw materials. This means less needs mining, quarrying or logging. Many parts of the world have been blighted by mining and quarrying, which destroy the natural environment and wildlife habitats and may cause environmental and health problems for local people. Also transporting raw materials around the world uses fossil fuels and has an environmental impact. Although some materials for recycling need to be transported around the UK, the impact of this is significantly less than that of transporting raw materials from often remote locations in other parts of the world.

In many cases recycling uses less energy than producing goods from virgin material, and also results in fewer emissions. The manufacture of bags made from recycled rather than virgin polythene reduces energy consumption by two-thirds, produces only a third of the sulphur dioxide and half of the nitrous oxide, uses only one-eighth of the water, and reduces carbon dioxide generation.

What can be recycled?

A great many materials could be recycled but what can be recycled in practice is dependent on economics. Aluminium is worth recycling because it can easily be turned into new aluminium products, and because aluminium is quite expensive. Steel is much cheaper to produce so there is less incentive to recycle it, although it can easily be recycled. This is why there are schemes which give cash for aluminium cans but not for steel ones. The economics of recycling improves if there is a market for goods made with recycled raw materials. So buying recycled promotes recycling. See Buy Recycled for the National Recycling Forum's directory of products containing recycled materials.

Other materials are much harder to recycle because the products containing them contain a mixture of materials. A computer may contain several sorts of plastic, various metals, including some which may be toxic such as cadmium, glass and ceramics. Even a soft drinks bottle may contain several sorts of plastic, while a milk carton cannot be recycled as paper because it is lined with plastic or foil.

More and more goods are being marked with symbols which help with recycling by indicating what they are made of and whether they can be recycled. Explanations of these can be found on the Recycle More website.

Local authorities are responsible for waste disposal so always contact your local council first to find out what recycling facilities they offer. Some may make special one-off collections. To find out what your local authority will recycle contact the Recycling Officer - details should be listed in the telephone directory - or contact the Recycle Now Helpline. Some local authorities run kerbside recycling services, serving 43% of British households, while others use bring-banks, large skips to which people take recyclable rubbish, and some extract recyclable materials from mixed waste. Steel, for example, can easily be recycled from mixed rubbish because it is magnetic. Details of councils' recycling rates can be found on Let's Recycle (or the Defra website provides additional detail).