In 2016, UK households were recycling, on average, 45.2% of their waste — up from 44.6% the previous year. While this is a figure we can all take some credit for, it still falls well behind the EU target of 50% by 2020. At the current rate of increase, Britain will miss the target by quite some distance.
While we have made some great improvements in recent years, more still needs to be done if we’re to reduce landfill and protect our oceans from the scourge of plastic waste.
This is very much a case of everyone doing their part for the greater good. If we can all manage to recycle another 5% of our waste, we should be able to meet the target of 50% by the deadline.
If you’re struggling to make recycling work in your home, there are a few tips to make the process a little easier.
1. Designate a kitchen cupboard for recycling
The easier and more convenient recycling is in your home, the more waste you’ll recycle. Devote a cupboard to plastic waste, and attach a bin to the door. Every time you open the door, the recycling bin is right there — waiting for its next plastic bottle. Adding this recycling to your kitchen should help everyone in your home to get into the habit of separating plastics from general waste.
2. Use recycling baskets
Buy a few baskets from your local discount store, and place them strategically around your home. Label them “plastics,” “paper,” and “metals,” and position them where they don’t create a fuss. Underneath drawers and beds is a great location for recycling bins. To make things even easier, use baskets on wheels, which can be pulled out and pushed back in again.
Once a day, empty all of your indoor recycling baskets into the appropriate recycling compartments of your outside bins.
3. Make recycling bins artistic
No one wants ugly bins in their living room or bedroom, but you can make a feature of them by decorating them to blend in with their surroundings. For example, you can use a large metal bin and either paint it or decorate it with adhesive murals and wall art.
4. Create battery recycling stations
Batteries should never be thrown into general waste bins, as they contain toxic chemicals. Instead, they should be taken to the local recycling centre, and placed in the correct container. Use old tea and coffee canisters to create mini recycling stations for all your batteries. You can even cut a hole in the top to make life easier for everyone. When the canisters are full, take them to your local authority tip.
5. Create an outdoor recycling centre
One of the issues that stop people from recycling as much as they could is the ugliness of bins. Let’s face it, lining up several bins for different types of rubbish isn’t conducive to creating a stylish home. But you can hide all your recycling bins inside a custom-made bin cupboard. Made from planks or old wooden pallets, the cupboard sits in your garden, and hides all of your recyclables until they’re ready for collection.
6. Start a compost heap
You can dramatically reduce the organic waste you send to your local refuse centre by throwing it into a compost heap in your garden. If you’re a keen gardener, your heap will come in very handy when it’s time to start planting flowers, shrubs and trees.
7. Flatten everything
Plastic bottles and cardboard boxes take up a ridiculous amount of space in the average bin. It is therefore essential that everything you throw away is flattened as much as possible. If you find that your recycling bins are overflowing every pick-up day, paying more attention to how you pack them could improve the situation dramatically.
If we all change our habits slightly, we can reduce landfill and tackle the pressing issues of plastic waste in our oceans.