7 Ways to Fix London’s Recycling Problem
If you’ve read our article on “London’s Biggest Recycling Facts & Stats”, you already know that the numbers are staggering. The city has a constantly rising population which means there will always be more waste produced (an extra one million tonne every year) and as a result, there will be ever-increasing stress on the existing waste management infrastructure we have in London.(1)
Having said this, helping is easy and doesn’t need a lot to be done on your part. At Junk Hunters, we strive to help the environment any way we can. Which is why we have come up with some good tips and advice so that together we can all do our part to improve London’s low recycling rates and also the way we manage waste disposal in London. Sounds good? Read on!
Number One Bottleneck: Lack of Awareness
Here are some surprising but true stats about not just waste management in London specifically but all households in the UK:
· Two out of three households are not really sure about which bin to use for what item
· About one in two households throw away items that could be recycled
· Just over two-thirds of us put things which can’t be recycled in the recycling bin (2)
Even though British consumers are more willing than ever to recycle their household waste, many of them are failing to grasp the recycling basics – at least that’s what the latest research study by the BSA (British Science Association) is showing us (3).
As a result, they claim, a lot of recyclable waste ends up in the landfill. The problem is further complicated by councils making their own rules when it comes to recycling and not being able to follow a common set of rules across the board.
Of course, it seems complex at times since there are so many types of materials and their respective recycling symbols that you have to keep in mind. Having said this, recycling doesn’t have to be confusing at all.
To offer some help in this regard, we have put together a list of some suggestions for what you can and cannot send for recycling.
Top items that people don’t know they can recycle:
- Empty deodorant and hairspray cans (including the plastic cap)
- Metal Lids
- Foil trays and kitchen foil (that are used but clean)
- Empty bottles of bleach or surface cleaners
- Envelopes with windows
Top items that are commonly mistaken as recyclable:
· Food containers and shampoo bottles that have not been rinsed
· Pots and pans
· Kitchen roll
· Non-paper gift wrap
· Hand-soap pump (dispenser) tops
· Plastic bags
· Coffee cups
· Wine glasses
· Glass cookware
· Tissues and tissue boxes where the plastic insert hasn’t been removed
· Window glass
· Photo paper
· Greasy takeaway pizza boxes
· Pet food and baby food pouches
· Crisp packets
· Nail varnish bottles
· Post-it notes
· Plastic toys
If you’re sat there thinking that this information is well known, here are some more surprising stats for you:
· 44% of households are putting hand-soap pump dispenser tops as waste into their recycling bins (they need to be removed from the hand soap bottles)
· 34% of households incorrectly assume that the dirty kitchen roll can be sent for recycling
· More than one out of five households are sending coffee cups, plastic bags, and greasy pizza boxes for recycling(4)
Tip #1: Start Small
Did you know if every Londoner recycled one extra glass jar each week, the city could save enough glass to replace the glass windows on the Shard within two years? To be precise, if everyone in London decides to recycle an extra glass jar every week, we could save 10,000 tonnes of glass every year from being thrown away into the landfill(5).
So, if you want to start small, start by adding a new bin dedicated to just recyclable stuff in your home — because one bin is obviously for rubbish.
Tip #2: Make Cleaning Up a Habit
Based on the latest research, a fifth of the audience that’s 25- to 34-year-old in age said that they find the process of sending items for recycling too time-consuming and don’t feel they are in the habit of recycling. But only 6% of the population of over-55s said the same(6).
Do you too at times feel like cleaning up around your place (or office) is a messy task? Well, you can always reach out to a service provider that offers junk removal in London to visit your premises and do the needful.
Junk Hunters, for example, can help you out with rubbish removal in London in no time. That way you will have more time for the really important things.
Tip #3: Buy Less, Use More
Did you know residents of London discard as much as one-fifth of their groceries in food waste? We are assuming residents of London waste the typical amount of food as compared to the rest of the UK population.
Yes, that’s like throwing out one out of every five things that you buy! That’s almost like 7.3 million tonnes of edible food waste discarded each year across the UK!(9)
In fact, London residents throw away 890,000 tonnes of food or the weight equivalent of 42,000 buses full of edible food – food that wasn’t spoiled but was still discarded(7).
Having said this, there are food-sharing apps like OLIO that have 250,000 members in London and have shared 33,000+ meals. Please note that sharing edible food waste not only reduces carbon emissions but also means that fewer residents of London go hungry(8).
Tip #4: Change the Cycle of Waste Creation & Disposal
Needless to say, the way we create, manage and dispose-off waste in London must change. The GLA (Greater London Authority) has clearly acknowledged that the pressure on waste management infrastructure in London has been increasing and we need to consider alternatives to our current understanding of the ‘take, make and dispose-of’ model.
In fact, there’s an alternative model that would require us to address the entire lifecycle of waste by focusing more on “recycling” of the waste(10).
This has more to do with the waste disposal mindset and making recycling a habit.
Tip #5: Stop Hiring Skips
One good solution for both individuals as well as businesses would be to stop hiring skips and have their waste collected and cleared by specialists in the city. Some service providers like ourselves can recycle up to 80% of the waste that we collect, probably even more! Compared to Skips, of which the majority is taken to landfill.
So next time you have a large pile of junk to get rid of, consider hiring the experts instead of a skip. Not only can you improve London’s recycling problem, but it also means you don’t need to lift a finger.
Tip #6: Upcycle Your Old Junk
How about upcycling some of your old furniture instead of buying a new one or throwing it away? This is a valuable tip if you want a new piece of furniture, but the same tip applies to a lot of other stuff too.
Try to repurpose as much of your old items as possible and build new things out of them. Looking for inspiration? Check out Pinterest boards like this one.
Tip #7: Locate your Nearest Local Recycling Center
If the local recycling center is located close enough for you to drive, find out what items they take for recycling, as this will vary by center, and what times are they open.
If that is too time-consuming or labour intensive then why not try out a rubbish removal service like ours, and have your junk team arrive, collect, clear up, and recycle your rubbish?
We know the experts have warned us that this kind of growth will be unsustainable for the city and will put an increasing strain on the existing waste infrastructure and resources(11).
Having said this, if we could make it a habit to buy fewer new materials and recycle as much of our waste as possible, there are going to be positive environmental as well as economic consequences for the residents of London.