Surprising Facts about Recycling
3rd Mar 2022
We're all becoming aware of the fact that every choice we make has a profound impact on the environment. We’re thinking twice before we purchase a new car, checking the energy rating on our electronic equipment or installing solar panels.
However, recycling our business and household waste remains one of the most powerful things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint.
By recycling, we can slash our energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the use of earth’s raw materials, whilst saving money in the process.
But what is the truth about recycling? How much waste do we really produce and what can we do about it? Here are some surprising facts.
Did you know that metal is the second most recycled material in the UK? In fact, around 2.5 billion cans are recycled every year in the UK.
We still have a long way to go though as 29% of cans still end up in landfill.
Recycling an aluminium drink can saves around 95% of the energy needed to make new aluminium from the raw materials. That energy could run a television for three hours!
Cans and drums can also be processed and used to create a new product that will be back in the shops within just 60 days. Many businesses choose to use can crushers as they reduce the cans and drums volume by up to 90%.
In the UK, we use nearly 10 million tonnes of paper each year, of which around 80% is recycled. The trees required to generate this quantity would cover around 21,000 square kilometres, or nearly the size of Wales!
Thankfully, paper and card are the most recycled materials in the UK, but also accounts for 20% of our total waste produced.
When we recycle we’re saving 60% of the energy, 380 gallons of oil, 7000 gallons of water, and around 3 cubic metres of landfill space with each tonne. However, this process can’t be repeated indefinitely. The long fibres in paper and card become shorter every time. This means we can recycle the average paper product around 5-7 times.
The world is drowning in plastic. In the UK alone we use around 2.3 million tonnes of plastic packaging every year and an estimated 13 billion plastic bottles!
The environmental costs of this are high. Plastics take an average of 100 years to degrade in landfill and whilst doing so, emit toxins into the environment. Often, these items end up in the oceans or the local countryside and end up negatively affecting plants, animals and fragile local ecosystems.
For these reasons, the UK government has set a target to eliminate all plastic waste by 2042.
When we recycle just one plastic bottle, we are saving 75% energy compared with using raw materials. It’s the equivalent of lighting a 60W light bulb for 6 hours using this energy.
To view the full range of QCR's plastic balers click here
Glass is a fantastic material because it is 100% recyclable and can be used almost an infinite number of times! However, here in the UK we only recycle about 50% and glass that ends up in landfill, will never decompose. This places a huge strain on the environment and landfill alike.
The good news is, if you do recycle your glass using local council collections or in the many bottle banks dotted across the UK, you’ll save a huge amount of natural resources.
Recycling just one bottle could save enough energy to light a 100W light bulb for 4 hours! And for each tonne of glass recycled, around 246kg of CO2 emissions are saved!
Food Recycling Facts
Living a more sustainable lifestyle isn’t just about recycling your packaging. Your food waste also contributes enormously to your impact on the environment.
When it ends up in the bin and not on your plate, you’re wasting the earth’s natural resources, your budget, and unnecessarily increasing your use of fossil fuels, increasing your carbon emissions, and even increasing the amount of methane released into the environment.
According to charity WRAP(Waste & Resources Action Programme), we throw away more than 7 million tonnes of food and drink every year that could have been safely consumed!
Around 50% of this food waste could be recycled by composting at home or using your local council’s food waste scheme. Better still, why not get clever with meal planning and using leftovers so nothing ever needs to go to waste?
The UK produced around 25.9 million tonnes of waste in 2021, according to government figures. Despite the zero-waste strategies and growing awareness of climate change, this was more than a 1% increase on the previous year.
Recycling levels also dropped from 42.6% to a mere 41.4%, posing a serious question to businesses and individuals across the country. If we want to meet the government’s previous targets of 50% recycling rates, we must all do more.
We must ensure that our waste glass, plastics, paper, and cardboard is recycled. We also need to become more conscious of our food waste and look for ways we can further reduce this.
If you need any further assistance, Talk to the experts here at QCR – we’ve got what you need to reduce your waste costs.
Together, we can save the earth’s natural resources and leave a better planet for future generations.