Recycling - A Load of Rubbish?

by Martin Tuckey

Our pile of recycling may look like a load of rubbish but it is in fact a valuable and sustainable resource. But why bother?

Using recycled materials to make new products uses less energy than raw materials and conserves natural resources, thereby protecting natural habitats. As we are all aware, recycling also significantly reduces landfill, a fact that Corfe Mullen residents should empathise with when watching the growing mountain of rubbish at the Beacon Hill landfill site. Toxins from electrical goods and batteries also leach into and poison the ground and watercourses under landfill sites. With a little thought and effort it is surprising how much of our “rubbish” we can divert from landfill.

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Recycling in 5 easy steps

1.Kerbside. Firstly, start with the easy stuff. Glass, plastic bottles, paper, tins and now even batteries and old mobile phones can easily be recycled using the East Dorset District Council’s kerbside recycling scheme. Take the time to read their new leaflet or log on to www.dorsetforyou.com/recycling It couldn’t be easier and if the council can do their bit then so should we.

2.Other recyclables. EDDC also provide local recycling centres for other recyclable materials. In addition to recycle bins for the above materials, cardboard, aluminium foil, “tetrapak”/cardboard drink/soup cartons, textiles and shoes can all be recycled behind the Co-op in Towers way. If possible try to coincide your recycling trip with a passing journey or your shopping trip. Other recycling centres are also available in Wimborne and surrounding districts.

3.Household waste. Items such as electrical goods, metals, rubble, light bulbs, wood, garden waste etc can all be recycled at the household recycling centre on Brook Road, Wimborne. Residents of Corfe Mullen and other areas can also apply for a free permit to use the Nuffield Recycling Centre in Poole. See www.dorsetforyou.com for more details. Common recyclables such as glass, paper etc can also be recycled at these centres which are no longer merely for dumping rubbish but are now centred around achieving high targets of recycling, typically 75% of all materials.

4.Feed worms and birds! Fruit and vegetable peelings, egg shells, tea bags, garden waste and cardboard will be converted into nutritious compost by the worms in your compost bin/heap. The council provide information on composting and can supply compost bins at a reduced price. Also look at www.recyclenow.com/compost Some food scraps can be put out to feed the garden birds. Look at Lynda White’s article on feeding birds.

5.Reuse it. If you can’t reuse your old stuff, somebody can. Try selling things at car boot sales or on e-bay. Alternatively take them to a charity shop to boost their income or give them to other people for a new lease of life. Check out the following:- www.freecycle.org www.giveortake.org.uk www.dorsetforyou.com/recyclingevents
Lastly, try to reduce your waste by not acquiring it in the first place. Look at everything you throw away and, if it cannot be recycled, think about how you can avoid getting it in the first place. Try to buy loose veggies instead of pre-packed (usually cheaper), use re-useable bags for shopping etc.

If you have managed all of the above there shouldn’t be very much left in your general waste destined for landfill and as much as 80-85% of your rubbish can be recycled. My family’s rubbish is limited to mainly non-recyclable plastics such as wrappings, polypropylene (PP5) and yoghurt pots and a small amount of non-compostable food waste (although we should have a wormery!). Look at www.lovefoodhatewaste.com for reducing food waste.

Does recycling work?
Does our recycling actually get recycled?
Yes, it gets sorted and distributed locally in Dorset and the sorted materials are then sent to reprocessing plants in the UK.
-Glass is sent to Southampton where it is reprocessed into more jars and bottles.
-Paper and card is sent to Somerset or Cheshire to be made into more paper and card.
-Plastic bottles are sent to Lincolnshire and provide the raw materials for making products such as guttering, traffic cones and fleece clothing.
-Cans are separated into aluminium and steel. The aluminium cans go to Swindon to be made into more cans whilst the steel ones go for reprocessing in South Wales after which they end up as fridges, cutlery or more cans.
-Aluminium foil gets reprocessed and the profits usually go to local community projects.
-Wood and garden waste gets reprocessed at Eco in Parley.
-Textiles from the textile/clothing banks are sorted and the reusable clothing is sent abroad for reuse while other textiles are used for things like furniture stuffing.
So yes it does work!

Currently the only incentive to reduce our waste is our own conscience and often people need more tangible incentives such as financial savings. It will always be a controversial idea and difficult to implement but I would welcome paying according to how much rubbish we contribute to landfill. This would at least encourage people to reduce, reuse and recycle, resulting in less rubbish going to landfill and lower refuse costs. Our utility bills are based on usage so why should those who make efforts to reduce their waste pay the same for refuse collection as those who are too lazy or wasteful to reduce their waste?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Well said Martin, thanks.

I've often heard the mnemonic phrase 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle' used to encourage cutting down on waste. I just searched and found a site called that: http://www.reducereuserecycle.co.uk/

I'm keen to use all of these 'three Rs' plus composting to avoid unnecessary waste and adding to the shameful quantities of unwanted 'stuff' humanity has carelessly chucked into holes in the ground for centuries, but I still need reminding to keep doing it. My own compost does pretty well from garden and kitchen waste but I've never tried a wormery.

I've been a member of Freecycle in the past, which is a mechanism for passing unwanted items with some life left in them to people who want them as it reduces landfill, and imports and is good for those who are trying to save money. I'm thinking of doing something similar organised through this site in Corfe Mullen, which would have the advantage that nothing would have to travel far.

There was a 'Give or Take' day in the village hall over a year ago and there's another one there but you'll have to wait until the 4th December!

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