How does recycling work?

20th May 2014 by Alessandro Maccioni

Today on the blog we’ll be looking at what recycling means in the UK and why it is so important for the ecology and economy.

What is recycling?


Recycling is the process by which waste materials are collected, sorted and remade into new products and materials. A recycled product is usually made from the same material as it was before, such as a glass bottle. Likewise, materials can be ‘downcycled’ into new products, for example, glass can also be ground into materials used for road surfacing.

Why do we recycle?

NEA recycling bins along Orchard Road. Taken by Terence Ong

NEA recycling bins along Orchard Road. Taken by Terence Ong


Every year, this country produces about 280 million tons of waste, and according to the Local Government Association, our landfills are due to be full by 2018. Therefore from a practical point of view, we all need to do our bit and recycle.

Recycling goes much further than just helping our own personal waste issues though. It contributes enormously to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Making products from recycled materials compared to raw materials almost always reduces the rate of CO2 and methane emissions, which are so damaging to our ozone layer.

What’s more, recycling helps to preserve natural resources. By reusing the materials we have at our disposal there is less of a need to chop down trees for paper, or extract metals and minerals for construction and consumer products.

Where does most recycling end up?

Most recycled materials are sorted here in the UK and then send to Asian countries in order to be recycled. China is the biggest importer of recyclable materials – taking about 55% of our paper exports and 80% of our plastics. The process becomes cyclical when the UK imports products made from these materials from Asia.

How does the UK compare to other countries?

According to the latest statistics, the UK ranks in the middle of the European recycling league. They have gradually been moving up the rankings – in 2003, they were third from bottom, only ahead of Greece and Ireland. Today, the UK has scored a respectable 25% dry recycling rate per head, but our municipal waste which is sent to a landfill is still well above the EU average at 49%. Britain prides itself on scientific breakthroughs leading to green initiatives, so it’s a little disappointing that as a society we aren’t reflecting that in our recycling efforts.

How can I do my bit?

Make sure to take your waste materials and recyclable products to your local dump, supermarket or recycling bank. By collecting and sorting your recycling into specific containers or bins you’ll find this makes the whole job a lot easier.

Will I save money by recycling?

As a society, we will certainly save the economy millions of pounds a year. On an individual level, we may also begin to notice savings. Local authorities fork out hundreds of thousands of pounds per year in removal waste, so are planning on incentivising recycling for their constituents by lowering council tax bills.

Rubbish collection in London

Sometimes it’s not easy for us to take our rubbish to the local dump; time and transport being two major issues. Rubbish removal companies can be the most practical answer to your problem. JunkWize operates on both sides of the river, so whether you’re from Lambeth or Southwark, Wandsworth or Westminster, we can deal with all your London rubbish collection needs.

Give us a call for a free quote or book online today!

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