Recycling, meaning the processing of manufactured products to provide the material to make new ones, is widely accepted as a good thing to do. What is the basis for this belief?
There are many environmental advantages in recycling materials. Less energy is used, resulting inless pollution. Material recycling reduces the demand for virgin raw materials. Since many of these virgin raw materials have to be imported, recycling may also benefit the economy.
Recycling reduces the amount of waste that needs to be land filled or incinerated.
Taking part in recycling enables people to help the environment and gives a sense of individual responsibility for the waste, which we all help to create.
However, recycling itself uses energy may cause pollution and will never wholly replace the need for virgin raw materials. It is obviously better not to create so much waste in the first place.
The role of individuals Sorting out waste and taking it to be recycled involves time and energy.
Although many people think that recycling is important, many find it difficult to achieve. Surveys show that:
The main reasons people do not recycle more are because they find it inconvenient or they lack local facilities.
Typical Composition of U.K. Household Waste (by weight)
Data supplied by Warren Spring Laboratory 1993
a) Paper & Card (33.2%)
b) Plastic Film (5.3%)
c) Dense Plastic (5.9%)
d) Textiles (2.1%)
e) Glass (9.35%)
f) Putrescibles i.e. vegetable matter etc. (20.2%)
g)Ferrous metals (5.7%)
h) Non-ferrous metal (1.6%)
i) Fines i.e. Dust etc (6.8%)
j) Miscellaneous (9.9%)
Each year the average U.K. household throws away just over 1 tonne of waste.
Each week the average household discards 3-4 glass bottles or jars, 13 cans, 3 plastic bottles and 5kg of paper. The relative amounts of different material in the average dustbin are shown above.
There are approximately twenty mini-recycling sites in Calderdale where householders can take items such as glass, paper, cans, textiles and shoes, and some sites also accept books and music, carrier bags and mobile phones.
Calderdale Council provides five Household Waste Recycling Sites throughout the borough, which offer facilities as those mentioned above, in addition to cardboard, scrap metal, fridges, motor oil, green garden waste, car batteries, bricks and rubble, timber and plastic bottles.
Over 95 per cent of the Borough is now offered a kerbside recycling collection service. Sita Services (UK) Limited operates a box and bag scheme which covers approximately 57,000 households and collects newspaper/magazines and glass bottles/jars. Kerbside Calderdale also operates a box scheme which includes approximately 25,000 households and collects items such as newspaper/magazines, glass and cans.
Total amount of paper and board used In the U.K. was 9.7 million tonnes. Between 1 and 2.5 tonnes of wood are used to make a tonne of virgin paper, i.e. with no recycled content. Most of this wood comes from trees, which have been planted for this purpose. One tonne of paper is the amount required to produce 7,000 copies of a newspaper.
About a third of waste paper is recovered for recycling. Some is waste from the paper-making process (mill broke); some comes via collections from offices and business premises; and some through public-access paper banks, which now total about 5,000. The U.K. uses 3.3 million tonnes of waste paper. Some of the remainder would be kept for long-term use, such as in books, but the bulk of it was landfilled.
Some products already use a high percentage of waste paper, such as newsprint, which may contain up to 70% waste and corrugated cardboard (up to 100% waste). More waste is now used in printing and writing papers, but still less than 5% of these are made of recycled paper, i.e. containing over 75% waste fibre, and much of this is imported from Germany and France.
Waste paper can also be used to make other products, such as plasterboard, loft insulation and animal bedding (see Pennine Magpie).
A report published by Warren Spring Laboratory concluded that recycling paper resulted in energy savings of between 28% and 70% and considerable reductions in the emission of polluting substances to air and water.
Economic advantages in recycling paper are a saving of £1,000 million worth of Imported wood pulp and a reduction in landfill costs.
Household waste cardboard can be recycled at the following household waste and recycling sites: Atlas Mill Road , Brighouse; Milner Royd Depot, Sowerby Bridge ; Lee Bank (Dean Clough), Halifax; Eastwood, Todmorden. For information your local household waste and recycling site ( click here )
Annual plastic consumption in the U.K. is about 3.5 million tonnes, a third of which is used as packaging. Less than 6% is recovered for recycling, mainly from industrial and commercial sources such as old telephones, photographic film cassettes, bottle crates and clothes hangers. Only 2% of recovered plastic Is post-use, Of which a very small percentage, about 0.5%, comes from household wastes. Obstacles to the recycling of plastic are the number of different types (there are over 50 - the most common are shown below) and their light weight, making transport costs to a recycling centre relatively high.
To make recycling easier, many plastic products are now coded by type, which makes them simpler to sort - Technology is also being introduced to sort plastics mechanically, using x-ray techniques, 'electrostatics and flotation.
There is a growing range of products made from recycled plastics. This includes polyethylene bin liners and carrier bags; PVC sewer pipes and flooring; fibre-fill in duvets; audio, video and compact -disk cassette cases; fencing and garden furniture; seed trays and building insulation board. Plastic bags can take between 10 to 20 years to biodegrade, while a plastic bottle can take forever. Try to re-use any plastic containers you do collect and opt for recyclable containers when possible.
For plastic recycling in Calderdale ~ for information about an innovative plastic recycling project that only recently closed down, contact the Hebden Bridge Alternative Technology Centre or use your local recycling site. At present neither door-to-door collection service collects plastic.
In the U.K. we use 6 billion glass jars and bottles each year. 29% of these now find their way back to be recycled, and the use of recycled glass has more than doubled since the early 1980's. There are about 16,000 bottle bank sites.
However, this is still low compared with some European countries. In the Netherlands, 70% of glass is recycled, and there is one bottle bank per 1,200 people, compared with a U.K. ratio of I per 4,500. In comparison, six European countries recycle over 50% of their glass, with Switzerland achieving 71%.
A unique feature in the U.K. though, is the returnable, glass milk bottle, which Is re-used, on average, 20 times. All glass containers can be either re-used or recycled, and there is no limit to the number of times glass cullet (crushed glass) can be remelted and used to make new glass, with substantial energy savings of 20-25%, and reductions in air pollutants. A considerable proportion of the glass collected is green, which has a limited use in this country, and the industry would like to Increase the amount
of well-segregated colourless glass available for recycling, and find new uses for green glass.
For glass recycling in Calderdale ~ In Calderdale, glass is collected as part of Sita and Kerbside Calderdale's door-to-door service. See map for who covers what areas of Calderdale. Otherwise contact Calderdale MBC for your nearest recycling site.
Tin-plated steel cans, aluminium cans and foil are the major-sources of metal found in domestic waste and all the cans and the non-laminated foil can be recycled. Each person in the U.K. uses on average 300 cans each year, 75% of which will be made of tin-plated steel. The steel cans include
all food cans arid nearly half of the seven billion drinks cans used each year.
Current recycling rates are 21% for aluminium cans and 16% for steel cans overall, with 12.5% for steel drinks cans. This compares with rates of over 45% of steel cans in France and Germany, and 86% for aluminium cans in Sweden.
There are major energy savings in the use of scrap metal, more than 70% for steel and 95% for aluminium, with corresponding reductions in air pollutants.
For metal recycling in Calderdale ~ In parts of Calderdale, metals is collected as part of Sita and Kerbside Calderdale's door-to-door service. See map for who covers what areas of Calderdale. Otherwise contact Calderdale MBC for your nearest recycling site.
There is an Increasing interest in finding ways of dealing with food waste from kitchens and garden waste. The estimated 4 million tonnes of such waste produced each year will rot down and produce methane gas if landfilled, and once mixed with other waste it Is impossible to separate.
However, It is a potentially valuable material, which can be used to produce compost, and, if broken down under anaerobic conditions, i.e. without the presence of oxygen, methane gas can be extracted to use as fuel. Many people have traditionally added their kitchen vegetable wastes to garden waste to form a compost heap. 'Worm bins' can be used in small gardens (or even flats!) to turn kitchen waste into compost. There is also available a 'digester', which deals with food and waste meat in addition to raw vegetable waste, breaking them down and releasing is back into the ground.
For organic recycling in Calderdale ~ previously organics were collected as part of Kerbside Recycling's door-to-door service in certain areas. At present Calderdale MBC has only a pilot scheme to recycle organic waste. The best way to deal with organic waste is to home compost it. This can be done quickly and easily in your own garden and avoids the transport costs and fuel usage of garden waste collection.
Please note : Calderdale residents can receive a discounted home composting bin for just £4.00 (for a 220 litre bin, including delivery – normal price £39.95). A larger (330 litre) bin is also available for just £6.00 (including delivery – normal price £49.95).
Residents should call 0845 077 0758 or download and complete this order form.
Total textile wastes from households is estimated at a maximum of 1 million tonnes per year. Of this, the Reclamation Association estimates that no more than 25% is recovered, but the amount of textile waste sent to jumble sales or charity shops is not known. Textile recycling is an old established business, which still continues even if the traditional 'rag and bone man' is no longer in evidence. Rag banks, now over 2000 in number, and the rejects from jumble sales and charity shops provide waste textile merchants with a steady supply of recovered textiles.
The Reclamation Association estimates that about 32% goes to second-hand clothing stores, 7% is used for fibre reclamation, 22% for filling materials, 34% for wiping cloths and 5% is rejected. Estimates of energy savings in using recycled fibre are about 50% compared with using virgin fibre, and there are reductions in water - usage and pollution.
For textile recycling in Calderdale ~ In parts of Calderdale, textiles are collected as part of Kerbside Calderdale's door-to-door service. In Calderdale you can recycle your quality used clothes and shoes by taking them to one of the 17 shoe banks or 15 textile recycling banks around Calderdale:- contact Calderdale MBC for your nearest recycling site. Reusable clothes, shoes and household linens suitable for reuse can be donated to your local charity shops
Some are sold on to people in developing countries where they provide employment through refurbishment and retail activities, as well as affordable clothing and household goods for local people to buy, however be aware that a recent survey found that 30% of people who failed to fill charity bags after leaflet drops said it was due to concern about the leaflets not being from genuine charities. Another finding was that many bags filled for genuine charities and left on doorsteps are then stolen by gangs working in unmarked vans before the charity van arrives, an aspect that costs one charity collection agent Clothes Aid an estimated £1 million a year. Such theft is illegal and there have been a few prosecutions. Also if a collector poses as a charity the Charity Commission can act, but has no power over charities based abroad.
The problem however with commercial collectors who don't steal bags and who don't pass themselves off as charities is that they are doing nothing illegal by selling the clothes they collect and pocketing the money that donors believe is going to charity. Which? has advised its members to check out the charity numbers given out by collectors by making contact with the Charity Commission (www.charity-commission.gov.uk/registeredcharities or 0845 300 0218) and, if a commercial collector their records at Companies House (www.companies-house.gov.uk)
There are a number of other items in daily use, which can be recycled, and some of these should only be disposed of in appropriate ways because of their hazardous nature.
Lubricating oil from cars can be treated and re-used for lubrication or heating. However, It can pollute waterways and drinking water, and damages the bacteria, which break down sewage. If about 30,000 tonnes are discarded into the wider environment each year, mainly by the DIY motorist. If burnt it causes air pollution, and if poured into the ground, it will result in the deaths of earthworms and other soil organisms. Facilities for safe disposal are available at some garages and through the local authority, at their Civic Amenity Sites.
Vegetable oil can be converted into bio-diesel.
About 25 million tyres are scrapped each year in the U.K., 70% of which are landfilled. Others are dumped illegally, creating a fire hazard. Some are used for retreads, play equipment and fenders on- quaysides. If turned into crumb rubber they can be used for playground surfaces, car bumpers and carpet underlay.
Both of the furniture reuse and recycling projects that service the Calderdale area provide the furniture collected to those in need. Calderdale residents can dispose of good quality furniture or appliances by contacting one of the following organisations and they will arrange to collect it for reuse by someone else:
For domestic furniture and household items call the Ozanam Furniture Recycling Project , Tel: 01422 322885 or the Sitting Comfortably Furniture Recycling Project , Tel: 01274 731909 These projects provide furniture items such as beds, tables and chairs free of charge to people in Calderdale on a referral basis. Certain items are not supplied, e.g. gas appliances or TV sets.
Some of the green waste collected at Calderdale's Household Waste and Recycling Sites is chipped and used as mulch on the borough's parks and open spaces. The remainder is sent to a processing plant in Dewsbury where it is broken down and composted. It is then reused on the parks and gardens in the borough.
Green waste can be taken to each of the five Household Waste and Recycling sites within Calderdale to be composted.
Calderdale residents can reduce the environmental impact of using disposable nappies by using Calderdale's nappy laundering service ' Change ', Tel: 01422 847080. The Change Project offers a nappy laundry service in Calderdale. A weekly supply of up to 70 clean soft cotton nappies are provided together with biodegradable liners. The service supplies a bin into which used nappies are placed for weekly collection by the service. As the child grows the nappy supply and size provided are adjusted accordingly.
Household hazardous waste such as paint has been estimated by the national Community Re>Paint Project that there is as much as 100 million litres of unused paint stored in homes across the UK . Much of this could be used by community groups, charities and voluntary organisations. If you would like to donating your old paint, click on www.communityrepaint.org.uk . Currently the nearest Re>Paint scheme is in Bradford.
Electrical and electronic equipment
Under the new EU Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) there are now a number of established collection points for WEEE, with a collection target of 4 kg per year per household. British Telecom (BT) telephones can be returned to BT. Goods such as working refrigerators and washing machines can be donated to schemes to be passed on to low income households. For a list of recycling sites authorised to take electrical goods see here.
Unwanted or old IT equipment (as well as printers, toner cartridges and mobiles) can be recycled through DOT-COMmunications' 3R-iT Project (Recycle, Refurbish, Retrain through IT Recovery). 3R-iT is one of only a few registered Community Microsoft Authorised Refurbishing Organisations within West Yorkshire. They work to provide charitable and not-for-profit organisations as well as individuals on low income with access to low-cost refurbished computers, computer parts, printers and peripherals. For more information visit their website here.
There are currently very few collection schemes for ordinary household batteries in the UK, although the number is steadily - if slowly - growing. Batteries are varied and complex, come in different shapes and types and are consequently very difficult to sort and recycle. The toxic materials have now been removed from ordinary batteries and they are safe to dispose of with your normal household waste however if you are in a Kerbside Calderdale collection area they can be recycled through them as part of a new project. Rechargeable nickel cadmium batteries do still contain hazardous metals and should be returned to the manufacturer where possible. A few local authorities provide facilities for recycling these, as well as lead acid car batteries, which may also be returned to garages. If you use rechargeable batteries look out for the new versions containing no mercury or cadmium.
Every year in Britain we generate a staggering 435 million tonnes of waste. Although much of it (46%) is accounted for by agricultural and mining wastes, we are still being faced with an increasing problem - what do we do with it? Currently, 90% of all household waste and 85% of all commercial waste is disposed of in landfills, but this is a deeply unpopular option.
The dominance of landfill as a waste disposal option is principally due to its low costs when compared with other kinds of waste disposal. In many parts of the country, there is a plentiful supply of former mineral extraction sites - i.e. large holes in the ground - which can be easily and cheaply converted to landfill, and when contrasted to the costs of incineration landfill can be up to 5 times as cost-effective. Generally speaking, legislation such as the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (as updated in the Environment Act 1995) has ensured that today's landfill sites are well-run and meet stringent environmental conditions. The introduction of a £7 landfill tax in October 1996 has increased the costs of landfill but the costs are still on average around £20 per tonne compared to in excess of £30 per tonne for incineration. It is also needed to be taken into consideration that once waste has been incinerated you still have to dispose of the waste ash.
The targeted reduction in controlled waste to landfill is from 70% to 60%, and faced with this, the Government has produced two secondary targets, which are to promote more sustainable landfill techniques and to make the best use of disposal space. With the giant amounts of space available from mineral extraction sites there will be no shortage for the foreseeable future. However, the great danger is that we are producing waste at a much faster rate than the mineral extraction sites are becoming available, thus leading to a glut of waste with nowhere to dispose of it.
Landfill has several advantages over other forms of waste disposal: it is relatively cheap, it is 'suitable' for a wide variety of wastes,etc. They can be unobtrusive if carefully designed and the methane gas produced by the decomposition of the organic wastes can be siphoned off and used as an energy source. It has to be said that outside the waste industry these benefits are not usually recognised by the general public, who tend to see more of the disadvantages.
Landfill can become very expensive in the long term, particularly if it causes water contamination or has methane gas emission problems. Often a lack of suitable sites in a certain area can lead to the waste having to be transported over long distances Apart from these considerations, landfills can additionally attract noise, dust, odours and vermin, and the methane gas vented from the decomposing waste matter is not only a powerful 'greenhouse gas' but also can be highly explosive, as the occasional ill-sited housing development has discovered!
Unfortunately the versatility and convenience of landfill has created a rut for waste producers, who no longer have to be innovative when dealing with waste. Households, who produce 5% of all British waste (21.75 million tonnes), can play a crucial role in sustainable waste management for the future. At least 77% of the typical composition of UK household waste (consisting of paper, board, textiles, glass and vegetable matter) can be reused or recycled, and yet in the UK there is a decided apathy concerning the process of waste sustainability.