Recycling is big business these days, and most local authorities have strong recycling programs. Yet in spite of this, there are a lot of myths floating round about recycling and whether it is, or is not, a good idea.
Some of the misinformation comes from confusing messages put forward by the local authorities themselves, but other myths are based on old excuses that people used to make when recycling required more effort.
A few of the more common myths are examined here:
Myth 1 – Recycling Collections Waste More Energy than Recycling Saves
This one is most definitely false. If you didn’t put your recycling in a green bin, you’d put it in a standard bin, and it would still need to be taken away.
Even if you do take transportation into account, recycling prevents rubbish ending up in landfill, and the energy savings from recycling some items, such as aluminium cans, can be quite substantial.
Myth 2 – Tetra Pak Cartons Can’t Be Recycled
The origins of this myth are based partly in reality. In the UK, only 30% of councils will take Tetra Pak cartons via doorstep collection, but recycling facilities for the cartons are available in most areas, and you can post the cartons to the manufacturer to have them recycled that way.
Myth 3 – Plastic Food Packaging Can’t Be Recycled
While some councils won’t take mixed plastic food packaging, that’s not because the packaging can’t be recycled – it’s because it’s difficult to sort the different kinds of plastics. If you want to recycle plastics other than the ones found in bottles, then the best thing to do is look for collection points (typically found outside of supermarkets, and at trading estates), and take your waste there.
Myth 4 – The Stuff You Sort For Recycling Just Gets Dumped Overseas
A lot of sorted rubbish is shipped abroad, but it’s not destined for landfill. China imports a lot of our sorted rubbish, for recycling to manufacture consumer goods. Don’t worry about this being an “unnecessary journey” either. We import a lot of stuff from China, so if we weren’t exporting goods (or rubbish) to them, those ships would be making the return trip empty.
Myth 5 – “I Recycle, So I’m Doing Enough for the Environment”
Just because you recycle, it doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels where the environment is concerned. Recycling is just one part of the equation. Consider reducing the amount of energy you use in other parts of your life. Perhaps next time you upgrade your kitchen you could invest in an induction hob or a zip water heater. An induction hob uses almost half the energy of a conventional hob, and a zip water heater can reduce your carbon footprint too.
When you’re buying cosmetics, opt for stores that will refill old containers. Try to reduce the number of journeys you take in your car, and consider cutting down on the amount of “stuff” you buy too. When it comes to the environment, even small steps can make a big difference.
Bio: Article written by James Harper on behalf of The Kitchen Appliance Centre, suppliers of energy saving induction hobs and zip water heaters.