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Recycling: The Facts

recycling sign

source: Wikimedia license: Public domain

In this post, I’m going to talk about recycling.

We all know we should be doing it, and most of us have a good idea which materials can be recycled – and which can’t. Here at Rubbish Please, we take every measure we can to make sure that your waste ends up reincarnated in some other form – but there’s still a lot you could be doing to help us out.

Eurostat data from 2011 indicates that in the UK, just 25% of our waste is recycled… while a massive 49% is still sent to landfill facilities. With available landfill space running low right across the country, we really need to be working together to see more and more of our waste products recycled.

To help explain the situation a little better, here are some recycling facts relating to the different types of waste we produce:

General Waste

434 million tonnes of waste are produced in the UK each year. Stop and consider that figure for a moment.

Okay, so it’s not as bad as the US – where in problem states such as Nevada, a staggering six kilos of waste is produced per person, per day. That’s why the facts of US recycling are staggering. Nevertheless, the UK produces waste material fast enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall in less than two hours – and the average person throws away their own body weight every seven days.

What’s more, as much as 50% of the contents of the average UK dustbin could be composted. You should always take steps to compost where you can – think before throwing something straight in your regular waste bin.


It takes 24 trees to make 1 tonne of newspaper.

If those numbers are hard to process, then look at it this way – the average newspaper weighs around 200g, and there are a million grams in a tonne. That means that 24 trees will buy us just 5000 newspapers.

In case 5000 still seems like a large number to you, then consider that in the UK each day there are roughly 12 million newspapers sold (according to a 2010 estimate by ABC figures). So, each day, we’re consuming an average total of 57,600 trees just for the sake of having something to read with our breakfast.

That is, of course, if we’re using fresh material each time to make our newspapers.

Paper recycling is one of the most efficient forms of reuse open to us, and it requires 70% less energy to recycle paper than it does to make new paper – as well as saving countless thousands of trees over the course of a year.


Plastic is another relatively easy material to recycle. Compared to the difficulty of dealing with broken glass or rusted metal, the process involved in cleaning and reusing plastics is comparatively simple.

It’s effective, too.

It’ll only take 25 two-litre drink bottles for example, to produce one brand new adult fleece.


A large number of metals can be recycled – and perhaps more than you might imagine.

Did you know, for instance, that 80% of the average vehicle can be processed and reused? That includes not just the plastic interior fittings, but also large parts of the engine and chassis.

Certainly in the case of aluminium, an easy substance to recycle, the UK is not doing nearly enough to offset its usage. Worldwide, a whopping £36,000,000 worth of aluminium cans are thrown away each year – just tossed in the rubbish, to end up in a landfill facility somewhere.


A huge amount of glass is thrown straight into the bin, rather than packing it off to a recycling plant.

The glass used for producing  bottles and jars is 100% recyclable – which means that if it’s disposed of correctly, it can be used time and time again for new products.

You may have read a past post on this blog discussing ‘When Not to Recycle’… and it’s true, sometimes loading a recycling plant up with broken shards can do more harm than good. But in the case of undamaged bottles and jars, you should always be looking to recycle your waste.

Image source: same free image

Monte F. Monreal

About Monte Monreal

Reader, writer, traveler, dog lover. And there is never enough of any of the above.
Posted in Waste Facts and Numbers and tagged facts about recycling, metal, plastics, recycling, waste. Bookmark the permalink.

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