Much like other countries around Europe, the United Kingdom has been making significant strides in setting up a recycling system that works. In 2018, the UK recycled about 45% of all household waste, with a percentage growth in the coming years. The recycling rates vary in different parts of the UK, however. Despite the improvements, the country still lacks behind in other countries regarding recycling percentages, like Germany, Austria and South Korea.
What Happens to Recycled Materials?
Once you have thrown away your recycling into the proper receptacles, where does it end up? Well, in all cases, that depends on the type of material. For the most part, most of the household waste in the UK is handled well and recycled, such as glass, paper and metal. These materials are also the most recycled type.
How to Recycle in the UK
For the most part, most of the homes in the UK have their recycling done by the local authority and on their doorstep. If you live in an apartment building, whether privately owned or council-owned, you have access to a communal recycling point outside the building where your recycling is left for pickup. This may be somewhat confusing for locals and ex-pats, as what you can recycle depends on where you live, not a universal set of choices across the country.
Recycling is happening on a local level, meaning your household collections and public recycling points are managed by the local authority. This is paid through the local council tax in the UK. It means that recycling requirements may vary from place to place quite substantially.
Moving into a new home means you will need to check in with the local authority’s website for additional information. You’ll be able to find out what to recycle, how, and when the weekly or fortnightly collections take place.
Almost all neighbourhoods, villages and towns across the UK also have a small roadside recycling centre. This is generally something near public services like libraries, health centres or the local supermarket or park. You can find glass recycling banks alongside other types of recycling services you can’t have via curbside collection. This includes shoes, textiles, clothing, books, electronics, etc. For the larger items, you will need to visit a local Household Waste and Recycling Centre that offers a mix of garbage and recycling services.
Paper and cardboard are widely recycled all over the UK - newspapers, magazines, boxes and more. You can recycle these as part of your regular curbside recycling, but you need to ensure your paper isn’t stained with dirt, paint, food, etc. Napkins and other sanitary towels or hygiene products can’t be recycled.
As plastic use is still going strong globally, you should know that it’s becoming increasingly recyclable throughout the UK. There are many kinds of plastic, but not all of them are the same when it comes to having them recycled. Plastic packages need to be recycled from home, while others need to be taken to collection points.
Glass is one of the easiest things to recycle in the UK, as you can find ways to recycle glass containers during your grocery shopping. Most local authorities also pick up glass in the regular recycling collection cycle. You must ensure your glass bottles and jars are clean before sending them off. You can also find glass recycling facilities at the local recycling centre known as bottle banks.
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