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Recycling Our Way To A Better Planet

A huge amount of waste is created by humans, and a staggering amount of that ends up in the ground as landfill.

Landfill sites are eyesores, can create unpleasant odours that drift across surrounding areas and can even leak toxic material into the ground – potentially polluting nearby waterways.

Here are some of the most commonly found items in landfill sites, demonstrating how much recyclable material is still being dumped into the ground rather than recycled responsibly.

  • Tyres
    Let’s begin with a really problematic substance. Rubber tyres take many years to break down – dumped in the ground, they’ll almost certainly outlive you and I. Local councils usually re-use the materials in projects, so they don’t need to go into the ground and decay, potentially polluting the area s around landfill sites.
  • Food
    Buying too much food is the biggest reason we throw it away. In some cases, completely unused, unopened food in packaging goes in the bin – and at the same time, large numbers of people struggle to feed themselves around the world. This is very much a First World embarrassment, and what’s more, decaying food in landfill causes methane emissions – a potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.
  • Plastic bottles
    Most people have a kerbside collection for plastic bottles these days, so they should never be ending up in landfill.
  • Cardboard
    Cardboard also has near universal recycling facilities, so shouldn’t go into the ground.
  • Tin cans
    Another item found far too often in landfill is metal cans, like those used for baked beans, tinned tomatoes and other foods with a very long shelf life. Metal used to make these cans is arguably one of the easiest materials to recycle, yet some still don’t get separated by some people from their non recyclable waste.
  • Glass bottles
    Just like tin cans, cardboard and bottles, glass bottles should all be recycled by now, not thrown into the ground.
  • Electronic equipment
    At a time when we hear about car manufacturers struggling to get chips manufactured for new vehicles due to material shortages, we’re still seeing appliances and other gadgets being incorrectly disposed of, which could free up precious resources.
  • Garden waste
    Composting has been done in back gardens for generations, and most councils will collect green waste for exactly that purpose. Don’t put it in the bin, give it a new use!
  • Clothes
    Clothes are often difficult to recycle due to the sheer number of materials that goes into making them. Charities often have bins in supermarket car parks to pass them on to people that need them, or separate them as needed to recycle them.
  • Paper
    Just like cardboard, we should all be doing our bit to make sure our cardboard gets used again, or recycled into new batches. Amazon need it to keep delivering!

While not all items in the above list are routinely recycled in the developed world, even the more difficult materials can be disposed of in a more sustainable manner.

For example, tyres are notoriously hard to treat, but that doesn’t mean that a puncture means the end of their useful life. They can be broken up into pellets and used again – a common use is the soft surfaces for children’s playgrounds.

While recycling facilities do vary dramatically around the globe, most countries do have some initiatives, with most of the advanced economies now offering waste processing for almost every item that needs to be disposed of.

By spending a few moments finding out what facilities are available to you, you can make a big difference to how much of your waste gets recycled, and do your bit to move towards a better, cleaner planet.

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