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Guide to household recycling

A green householdYou can reduce your household’s impact on the environment by recycling as much as possible. Your local authority will probably help you recycle the likes of glass bottles and old newspapers – but when it comes to things like food waste and unwanted electrical goods, you may need to put in a bit of effort to make sure they don’t end up in landfill.

It is possible that some councils will soon start to offer incentives for homes which have high recycling rates – or penalties for those that don’t. So getting into good recycling habits now will help to save energy for the future.

Check what your council will recycle

Most homes in the UK now have special recycling bins which take papers, magazines, and glass bottles and jars along with the weekly or bi-weekly rubbish collection.

Ask your council what else you are allowed to put in your recycling bin, as it varies from one municipality to the next.

The following are examples of items which are accepted by some councils but not others:

  • Shredded paper
  • Aerosols
  • Yoghurt pots
  • Milk or drinks cartons
  • Plastic carrier bags

Anything your council won’t take in its regular collections may be able to be recycled at a nearby recycling centre (previously the tip / rubbish dump) or supermarket. Again, your local authority will be able to give you details. Clothing, for example, can be recycled by depositing it in special textile banks if your council doesn’t include it in its weekly collections.

Recycling electrical equipment

Your council may offer a special scheme for recycling the likes of old computers, TVs and washing machines. You might have to pay for them to be collected, or you can take them to your nearest recycling centre – but they are unlikely to be accepted as part of your normal household waste. Some retailers now offer to take away and recycle old TVs and so on when you upgrade to a new model, so check when you buy.

Advances in technology mean that the average mobile phone does not have a long life, but there are a number of ways to recycle your old handsets. Some companies will give you cash for unwanted mobiles, or money off a new model. There are also charities that can reuse or refurbish your old phone - many will take unwanted computer equipment or printer cartridges as well.

You can get more details of local recycling sites at Recycle Now.

Give away unwanted items

If you want to get rid of something that isn’t broken or could still be of use to someone, consider joining a web group such as Freecycle and Freegle. These organisations allow members to advertise (for free) anything they no longer want or need, and others can get in touch by email and offer to collect. Commonly shared products range from baby clothes and toys to old computer equipment, TVs and microwaves. It could save you a trip to the local dump, as well as keep more waste out of landfill.

Cut down on waste

If your recycling collection consists largely of junk mail such as takeaway menus and unrequested shopping catalogues, take action. Put a “No junk mail” sign on your front door, and register with the Mailing Preference Service to take your details off marketing firms’ mailing lists. Always remember when you’re shopping online to make sure you tick the box that says “do not send me marketing material”.

When you’re shopping, think about how you can reduce the amount of packaging used in the items you buy. Go for loose fruit and vegetables rather than those packaged on a tray in plastic wrap. And take your own shopping bags rather than using the supermarket’s each time you do a shop.

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