More and more people recycle everyday. This helps to reduce the need for landfill and more costly forms of disposal. Recycling also reduces the need for extracting (mining, quarrying and logging), refining and processing raw materials all of which create substantial air and water pollution. This helps to save energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping to tackle climate change.
The environmental impact of recycling
Whilst recycled materials are valuable commodities in the worldwide market and are financially important; recycling is good for the environment too. It makes best use of our limited natural resources.
Recycling is a real success story and we should be proud of what we have achieved as a nation – but there is still much more we can do.
In 2008-09 over 27 million tonnes of household waste was collected by local authorities. Of this:
50% of this waste was sent to landfill;
37% was recycled or composted; and
12% was incinerated for energy recovery.
The amount of household waste we recycled in 2008 reached an impressive 8.7 million tonnes. That alone saved the same amount of CO2 that nearly a million return flights from London to Sydney would produce.
Five recycling myths
"There is no point recycling, it doesn't make a difference"
Recycling stops tonnes of waste being buried in landfill. In the UK, recycling saves about 10-15 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year, the equivalent of taking 3.5 million cars off the road.
"My recycling will end up getting thrown away with the rubbish anyway"
Your recycled material is a valuable resource. Once it has been collected from your doorstep it is then sorted, bailed and transported to reprocessors to be made into new products.
"I don’t create any food waste so I don’t need to use a food waste collection"
We all create some unavoidable food waste such as peelings, egg shells, teabags and bones. If you have a food waste collection at home these can go in your food waste caddy.
"Paper can only be recycled a few times"
Whilst it is true that paper fibres start to break down once they have been recycled five-six times, even then they can still be put to good use in egg cartons, loft insulation, paints and even new road surfaces.
"Recycling metal uses more energy than extracting the raw material"
This is not true. Mining and processing metal uses huge amounts of resources and energy. Recycling cans saves up to 95% of the energy needed to make new cans from raw material.
There are many myths about recycling. Why not continue to explore our website to find out more. For example, find out what to do with specific items that you are not sure about.