Comment: Our recycling attempts are a load of rubbish - but we should still try to get it right

PUBLISHED: 13:00 21 March 2018 | UPDATED: 17:26 21 March 2018

Turns out recycling is more complicated than any of us thought

Turns out recycling is more complicated than any of us thought


As a nation, we’re increasingly doing our bit to protect the environment by recycling – but many of us are doing it all wrong.

According to research by the British Science Association, many Brits are making a mess of their recycling by including soap dispenser tops and non-paper gift wrap in their plastic and paper bins when they should be sending them to landfill.

And that’s not all. The long list of wrongly recycled items also includes coffee cups, tissues, wine glasses and greasy pizza boxes. Guilty on all counts. Turns out the moral high ground I occupied on the back of many years of correctly recycling metal lids and envelopes with windows – some of the commonly binned things that can actually be recycled – has been outweighed by the many recycling fails I’ve also made.

And while I was right to recycle kitchen foil, it really needed to be clean. And it really wasn’t. I tried and I failed – and I’m definitely not alone.

Some fed up failed recyclers says it’s all too complicated – the council should sort it for us, to save the waste caused by well meaning people getting it wrong. Others argue that they pay enough for council tax already, thank you very much.

Surprisingly, young people are the worst recyclers. A fifth of 25-34 year-olds said they found recycling too time-consuming, compared to just 6 per cent of over 55s.

My mum and dad proudly go against the grain, frequently sticking two fingers up at their local recycling schedule and shoving the lot in a burning barrel. Much more convenient. It’s all literally a load of rubbish, in their opinion. One too many exposés about whole loads of contaminated plastic being sent to landfill – due mostly to failed do-gooders like me – have put them right off. If the reports are true, I can see their point. But a little bit of extra effort all round – aided by accurate information on what is and isn’t recyclable from local councils - would hopefully pay dividends for all of us.

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