Junkbusters | How UK Households & Companies Can Manage Recycling Better
Over the last two decades, England has increased its household recycling rate from 11.2 per cent to an astounding 44.7% per cent. However, it still falls short of the minimum recycling target set by the EU. Despite the UK’s ongoing efforts to improve waste recycling, the problem continues to remain unresolved.
Recycling is the process of collecting, sorting, and remanufacturing or converting used products into new materials. There are many things that can be recycled, such as paper, cardboard, newspapers, magazines, plastic bottles, glass bottles, aluminium, and other types of metals. Often we entrust rubbish removal companies to handle our waste, however there is much more, we can do.
On average, the world only recycles about 30% of the waste it produces, which is a significantly small proportion, considering how detrimental it can be for our environment. On the subject of waste management, one of the biggest issues the world is facing today is plastic recycling.
The widespread use of plastic materials amongst people needs to reduce. Waste material from products that we use on a daily basis can be found throughout the UK, harming our environment. There is no question that plastic is cheap, durable and useful; however, these are the same properties that make it damaging for our environment.
The biggest challenge of recycling plastic is that it’s not biodegradable. This means that the majority of the plastic goes into landfill sites or oceans, and it cannot get decomposed naturally like the organic waste, that can be broken down by bacteria and other microorganisms. Consequently, plastic waste keeps piling up and causes harm to our environment.
As our everyday resources become scarcer and harder to produce, prices will begin to inflate uncontrollably, having an impact on our finances. Fortunately, recycling can reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 75 per cent. With an ever increasing population, it is time we look towards recycling to preserve our natural resources.
Here is how you can manage recycling and reduce waste at your home and office:
Waste Management at Home
Managing waste and recycling at home has become a necessity. As British citizens, there are plenty of ways to contribute towards a healthier and cleaner environment.
There is no question that waste is constantly generated in our homes, offices and workspaces.
Reusing and recycling some ‘waste’ materials are the best options for managing waste at home. Here are some ways to do that:
Segregating waste before disposing it is very important. It helps reduce the amount of waste we put out and makes recycling and composting a lot simpler. We can segregate waste as:
Vegetables, tea leaves, kitchen waste, fish scales, and eggshells are called wet waste. They should be kept in a plastic bag separately, which can later be used as compost.
Dry waste includes paper, plastic, metal, glass, and flowers. They can be easily recycled and reused.
Hazardous waste includes wires, remotes, electronic toys, batteries, toxic waste, tube lights, medicines, used cosmetics, syringes, etc. These items should be disposed on a daily basis.
Reduce Trash While Shopping
Reducing waste in households is not easy, but we can reduce trash dramatically through careful decision-making and paying a little more attention to what we buy. You can:
- Purchase large packets and bottles instead of smaller ones.
- Check the amount of packaging on the products you are planning to buy.
- Opt for more recyclable products.
- Cook more at home and consume lesser bottled drinking water.
Reusing the Reusable
Reusing plastic bags and bottles is a great way to preserve the environment and manage waste effectively. Instead of throwing paper or plastic products away, you can reuse them in a variety of ways:
- Paper can be used for creative, artistic projects.
- Plastic containers and bottles can be reused in the kitchen.
- We can also use paper bags and plastic for shopping purposes.
Minimising Waste Creation
Other than segregation of waste, there are other things we can do to reduce waste creation, including:
- Buying products that have a long-life and are durable so that you can reduce their turnover.
- Avoiding the unnecessary purchase of clothes, products, and appliances.
- Rather than throwing away old items, we can sell or give them away to someone.
- Repairing old items rather than throwing them away.
- You can also use cloth bags for shopping instead of plastic ones. This is a small step that can greatly reduce the amount of waste we bring to the house. You can buy reusable cloth bags and put them in the trunk of your car so that you never forget to take them along.
Recycling and Composting
Composting waste at home is quite simple. You can put all the wet waste in a compost bin, leave it for a few days. Nature will take care of the rest. The compost acts as an effective fertiliser or tonic for your plants. You may even sell compost to interested parties, such as farming companies and community gardens.
Waste Management at Office
Is poor waste management wasting your money? The UK government’s Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP) says that businesses generate around 25 per cent of waste in the United Kingdom. Disposing of waste carries a very high monetary value, estimated at around £15 billion each year. For many organisations, the cost of waste can be high as four per cent of turnover. But, by taking the right measures, it’s pretty straightforward to reduce the number to around one per cent. Poor waste management is not just a financial concern for organisations. A significant amount of material is still being sent to landfills despite around 70 per cent of office waste being actually recyclable.
The most thorough approach to tackling this issue is to set up an environmental management system (EMS) and get yourself certified with ISO 14001. What organisations need to do is start with an audit of full environmental review of their business. Next, they should set targets for improvements and then implement an action plan. The audit will include questions regarding the legal requirements that apply to your business and the level of your compliance with them. It will also ask what sort of good practices you can implement apart from the things that are legally required.
Here are some steps you can take for reducing waste in your organisation:
Start A Green Team
Setting up a Green Team in your organisation is an effective way of managing waste. You can set clear goals for the team members and establish a timeline with milestones to achieve. The Green Team initiative will not only help your business turn environmentally friendly but also improve your brand image.
As technology evolves with time, businesses are going digital. Going paperless not only makes work management more efficient but also reduces the amount of waste produced by companies. Faxes and printed documents are generally very expensive and also cause inconvenience. Storing piles of paper documents can occupy a significant amount of space, and can be time-consuming to organise and access. Going digital can reduce the cost of buying copiers, faxes, and printers as well. To promote a paperless environment, businesses can also consider buying towels and reusable mugs instead of paper towels and paper cups.
Reuse and Recycle
Businesses can focus on buying reusable, durable, recycled, and high-quality material that encourages recycling and reusing items. They can provide containers or recycle bins for putting recyclable items. Another environment-friendly approach is buying recycled paper for the printer.
The Bottom Line
To conclude, it is essential that companies and consumers change their way of thinking and acting. Companies must design products in accordance with a circular economy approach, i.e., using waste as raw materials and reducing the use of resources. Consumers, on the other hand, have a great responsibility when it comes to the use of products. They need to make smart purchasing decisions and prioritise items that are recyclable over the ones that aren’t.