The Importance of Global Recycling Day
We live on a planet that gives us everything. Each year, the Earth yields billions of tons of natural resources but, as we are all aware, these resources are finite and will run out. That’s why it’s fantastic to see so many of us changing our habits and embracing more sustainable life choices – one of those being recycling.
With today marking Global Recycling Day we thought it would be a great opportunity to remind ourselves of why recycling is making a difference, as well as how we could do more.
Recycling is key to helping protect natural resources, an essential component of the circular economy. Each year, recyclables save over 700 million tonnes in CO2 emissions and with the right practises in place, is projected to increase to 1 billion tonnes by 2030.
Here are a few examples of how even the smallest amounts of recycling can have a big impact:
Recycling a single aluminium can will save enough energy to power a TV for up to three hours
Recycling a single glass bottle will save enough energy to power a laptop for half an hour
Recycling a single plastic bottle will save enough energy to power a lightbulb for three hours or more
Recycling everything you can in your kitchen recycling bins could power a TV for six months
It takes 70% less energy to recycle paper than it does to make it new from raw materials
Only 27% of batteries are recycled in the UK, resulting in more than 20,000 tonnes of battery waste straight to the landfill. It takes fifty times more energy to make a battery than the finished product produces
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is the fastest growing waste stream in the UK. According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), 25% of our WEEE waste could be repaired and re-used
So, how are we doing now? A report released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) earlier this year, revealed that British households alone create over 26m tonnes of waste each year, the weight of around 260 large cruise ships. This means that the average person in the UK throws away around 400kg of waste each year; 7 times their body weight. Of the 26m tonnes of waste produced in the UK, 12m tonnes are recycled, and 14m tonnes are sent to landfill sites. This gives the UK an average recycling rate of 45%. Northern Ireland alone has a recycling rate of 46%. We have come a long way, but how do we improve from here?
While 88% of UK households consider recycling an established norm, 9% admit to only recycling occasionally, and 3% say they do not recycle at all. 55% of households place items that could be recycled, such as foil, aerosols, and plastic detergent bottles, into their general rubbish bins. 85% of us contaminate our recycling bins with items such as drinking glasses, toothpaste tubes, and plastic film lids.
On average, we dispose of 6.1 items incorrectly when sorting our household waste, putting non-recyclables in our recycling bins and recyclables in our rubbish bins and while three-quarters of us admit to checking recycling information on product packaging, research shows that up to 76% of us misunderstand what recycling labels mean.
Let’s pay some more attention to our recycling habits this Global Recycling Day, maintain good practises and encourage others to do the same. A little care goes a long way in the fight to save our planet! 💚