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One Day at a Time: What can I recycle? Part one

Updated: Jan 9

At Christmas there are more unusual foods around, and therefore knowing what can be recycled is harder. Hopefully you know what can go in your kerbside recycling (go to your local Council website to find out if you're unsure).

Today's suggested activity is to consider what else can be recycled, and where you can recycle it in your area. Maybe start by finding out how to recycle one item that you use regularly, or an item you currently have a lot packaging from.

Day 3: What can I recycle? - Food and drink

The above photo shows a random selection of 'rubbish' that I collected last week, that is possible to recycle. In addition to your usual kerbside recycling collection, other options include:

  • recycling centres near where you live (for things like drink/food cartons);

  • many supermarkets now take soft plastics for recycling (e.g. veg bags, bubble wrap, clean cling film, etc);

  • and there are also Terracycle collectors around the country who collect normally non-recyclable items, which are recycled through brand-funded Terracycle programmes (e.g. chocolate/sweet wrappers, crisp packets, cheese wrappers, bread wrappers, chocolate coin bags & labels).

Foil is the only item in the above photo that can be recycled (in most areas) through kerbside recycling. Take your mince pie trays, chocolate coins, and other clean and dry foil, and scrunch it up into a ball (at least the size of a tennis ball), and put it in your recycling bin at home.

Due to the way recycling is sorted at recycling centres, small pieces of foil will not get processed, so scrunching it together in larger amounts helps to make sure your foil gets recycled.


Food and drink cartons (e.g. TetraPak drinks cartons and Pringles-type tubes) cannot usually be recycled from home, but many local recycling places now take them. Use the website Recycle Now, or Tetra Pak's website to find out where to recycle locally. There is also a Terracycle Pringles recycling scheme, but it has reduced drop-off locations, due the wider availability of recycling these locally.

Soft plastics (e.g. fruit & veg bags, bubble wrap, cling film, plastic bags) can be recycled at most supermarkets now. Check your local supermarket's website to see if they have a 'soft plastics' recycling bin. The picture on the right gives the full list of items that can be recycled this way.

More specific info here:

Tesco

The Co-op

Sainsbury's


Make sure the 'plastic' items you recycle are actually plastic. This may sound strange, but many items that look like plastic (bags, sweet/chocolate wrappers, film lids) are now made from plants, and cannot be recycled.

If the item doesn't have a plastics logo on (like this image, with a number to specify the type of plastic), do not recycle it. Sometimes it will say what it's made of on the packaging, but if not, look up the brand online to check how to dispose of it.


Terracycle

Many items can be recycled through Terracycle schemes, including:

Crisp packets (any brand), through the Walkers scheme: Crisp packet drop-off locations.


Cheese packaging, through one of Terracycle's 3 cheese recycling programmes. Both the Cathedral City and Pilgrim schemes will take any brand of flexible cheese packaging, and there is a separate Baby-Bel packaging scheme (to recycle Baby-Bel net bags, flexible wrappers, labels,. wax, and metal clasps).

Plastic sweet wrappers and chocolate wrappers (even the metallic ones, and the net bags chocolate coins come in) can be recycled via Terracycle's 'Confectionary' recycling programme. Find out who collects these items in your local area here: Confectionery Recycling Programme Drop-Off Locations


You may not know that Quality Street see-through wrappers are actually compostable (since 2008). This means you can put them in your garden compost bin. More and more sweet and chocolate companies are moving to compostable wrappers, for example Seed and Bean, and the Divine Organic Range.


See my later blog post for information on other items that can be recycled:

One Day at a Time: What can I recycle? Part two


If you're unsure where to recycle something, the website Recycle Now is really helpful. You can search for local recycling options for any item. Use the Local Search function, or check the 'What to do with' list.


For example, in my area (Mole Valley, Surrey), this is the list of items I can recycle in my green bin:

More about recycling in my previous blog: Becoming More Eco-friendly: Recycle


And here are some other blogs and articles about recycling other unusual items:

Recycling Wax, via the Recycled Candle Company

Recycling Confectionary Tubs, Biscuit Tubs, and Cracker Tubs, via Green King pubs

Recycling Toys, via Mattel

Recycling Disposable Face Masks, via Wilko

Recycling Textiles, via Dunelm

Recycling 'Down' (duvets, sleeping bags, padded jackets), via 'alpkit'

Recycling 'Health, Beauty & Wellness' products, via Boots Chemists

Recycling Plastic Flower Pots

Waste and Recycling Tips, from Surrey County Council

Information on Recycling Symbols


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