Recycling Made Simple and Tidy

Carboard ready for recycling

There are approximately 4,000 licensed landfill sites in the UK, each licensed to accept only certain types of waste. Approximately 85% of UK household waste is landfilled. Much of this waste can be recycled and should be disposed of separately to general household waste.


Glass is separated into 3 colours; green, clear and brown. Glass can be deposited easily at your nearest bottle bank. Many super markets have recycling banks which means you can deposit your bottles conveniently while you are shopping. Always wash out your glass before you recycle. Reuse glass jars whenever you can.


Paper is separated into the following groups:

  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Office paper
  • Cardboard
  • Phone directories

Reduce paper waste by cancelling unwanted deliveries, or read news online instead of buying newspapers. Another way you can cut down on you paper accumulation is by putting a ‘no junk mail please’ sign on your letter box to reduce unwanted deliveries.

Set your printer to print on both sides of the paper. Buy recycled paper whenever possible.


There are more than 50 different types of plastic. The main types include:

  • HDPE – Opaque bottles
  • PVC – Transparent bottles, with a seam running across the base
  • PET – Transparent bottles, with a hard moulded spot in the centre of the base

If your home recycling bin doesn’t take plastic bottles, then deposit them at your local recycling bank. Clean bottles before recycling them. Carrier bags can be reused next time you’re at the shops, or deposit used ones at collection points provided by some supermarkets.


Metal is usually separated into 2 groups:

  • aluminium
  • steel

You can test which metal your waste is by using a magnet. Aluminium metal is non-magnetic whereas steel is magnetic. Drink cans are usually made from aluminium and food cans are usually made from steel.

Most home recycling bins, provided by your local council, usually accept metal. Make sure drink and food cans are clean before recycling. Aerosol containers can be recycled, but only when they are completely empty.


Composting is a great way to recycle your kitchen waste and at the same time produce fertiliser for your garden. The main stages of composting are:

  • Adding organic materials to a compost pile. Micro-organisms, such as bacteria and fungi, break down the soft material which causes the compost pile to heat to around 60°C. This is the ideal temperature for micro-organisms to work at.
  • The compost pile cools to below 30°C. Small creatures such as worms and insects then break down the tougher material.

The whole process usually takes about 3 – 9 months, and results in a nutrient-rich fertiliser to use in your garden. The compost that is ready to use can be taken from the bottom of the pile, leaving the rest to finish the process.

What You Should and Shouldn’t Compost

What to add to your compost pile:

  • Hair and fur
  • Shredded paper
  • Straw and hay
  • Animal bedding and sawdust
  • Crushed egg shells
  • Grass and plant cuttings
  • Raw fruit and vegetable trimmings
  • Teabags and coffee granules
  • Horse/ chicken manure
  • Leaves

What not to add to your compost pile:

  • Meat or fish
  • Coal Ash
  • Animal waste
  • Nappies and used tissues
  • Dairy products
  • Cooked foods
  • Coloured or treated paper
  • Chemically treated wood
  • Diseased plants
  • Persistent weeds

Keeping a Simple System

To keep your recycling simple and tidy, set up an organized system at home. Use several plastic bins or large, strong, cardboard boxes to separate out your recyclable materials.

This way everything is kept in order and it’s easy to see when one of your bins is full and needs to be taken to the recycling centre or left out for collection.

Crush cans to allow for ore room inside your collection bin. Keep paper items tied in manageable bundles so they do not start to drift around the house.

See Also
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