Where Can I Recycle…..Plastic?

The world’s annual consumption of plastic materials, according to Waste Online, has increased from around 5 million tonnes in the 1950s to nearly 100 million tonnes today, which means that we use 20 times as much plastic today than we did 50 years ago.

Plastic recycling in the UK lags a long way behind recycling of paper, glass and metal.  The main reason for this is because comparatively few local councils include plastics in their kerbside collections; many provide plastic recycling collection facilities in their recycling collection centres, but inevitably this requires a greater commitment from the recycler, as they have to take it there themselves.  They may also only accept one type of plastic, such as bottles.

The problem?  Money, of course.  There is a wide variety of types of plastic that you might be throwing away – you’ve probably seen the triangular recycling logo on plastic items which has a number in the centre of it.  This identifies the type of plastic, for example 1 is PET- Polyethylene Terephthalate, 3 is PVC, 5 is polypropylene and 6 is Polystyrene.

This means that plastics need to be sorted into their different types before they can be recycled, and this needs to be done by humans – yes it’s up to us.  This is why, for example your local recycling collection facility may only accept plastic bottles and why Tesco will accept all you carrier bags – they are sorted and ready for recycling.

It is estimated that only 7% of plastic waste is recycled at present.  So what can we do to reduce the 93% of plastic that currently goes to landfill?

  1. Reject over-packaged items (a tough choice when four packs of a product encased in a plastic wrapper is cheaper than buying the items individually.  Yet that wrapper must increase the production costs surely?)
  2. Choose products that use recyclable packaging such as glass rather than plastic.  Another tough choice – a favourite fruit juice of mine just changed its packaging from glass to plastic. Grrrr.
  3. Reuse carrier bags, take your own bags to the supermarket and give unwanted ones to Tesco – they will accept any bags, not just Tesco ones.
  4. Reuse plastic packaging where possible – margarine and ice cream tubs can be used for storage and for planting seeds in for example.  Drinks bottles such as water bottles can be refilled from larger containers (or the tap of course).  Be carefulnever to reuse drinks bottles for substances such as cleaning materials where they could be accidentally drunk by a child.
  5. Choose products where refill options are available.  Many health food shops will refill Ecover bottles for example, and The Body Shop will also refill bottles.
  6. If roadside collections are not available for plastics, take sorted plastics to a recycling collection centre.  Bottle tops should always be removed from bottles as they are of a different material.
  7. Choose plastic items made from recycled materials.  Plastic bags, fencing, garden furniture, water butts, composters, seed trays and fleeces can all be made from recycled materials

Waste Online and Recycle Now both have detailed discussions of the issues surrounding plastics recycling. Recycle More can help you to find a plastic recycling collection point in your area.

Plastic Milk Bottle Tops?

Something of a mythology has grown up about the collection of plastic milk bottle tops for recycling; they have been the subject of numerous charity collection hoaxes, whereby it is suggested that if you can collect the weight of a wheelchair in tops you will earn a wheelchair for some needy child.  Sadly these pranksters play on our wish both to help others and recycle something which otherwise has to go into the bin – most councils that collect plastic bottles for recycling ask that you remove the lid.

So can you actually recycle these bottle tops and help charities?  Yes!

  • The Rose Road Association, a charity which provides services for young people with disabilities in the Hampshire area has been accepting them but will not be accepting milk bottle tops after 30th September 2007. However the company that recycles them are happy to receive them on Rose Road’s behalf, however theymust be sent directly to the recyclers at Associated Polymer Resources (APR), Wrens Farm, Castle Lane, North Badesley, Southampton, SO52 9LY. They mustnot be sent to Rose Road’s offices.
  • The Green Centre in Brighton is collecting milk bottle tops and other lids for recycling. www.thegreencentre.co.uk
  • Moorgreen Hospital League of Friends in Southampton are also collecting bottle tops. Visit http://lofmoorgreen.cad-monkey.co.uk/Bottle_Tops.htm for more details.
  • If you wish to collect them for recycling there is a company that recycles them, G.H. Services – Recycling who are in Portsmouth. They have a minimum quantity which they will accept for payment, however they have told us that they are happy to accept small amounts of milk bottle tops on behalf of charities, which we will keep on file and they will inform groups every 2 months how their total is mounting up and send them a newsletter. To find out more visit www.ghsrecyclingltd.co.uk

Naomi House Winchester and The Cat & Rabbit Rescue Centre Sidlesham are no longer able to accept donations of milk bottle tops.

If you do hear of any schemes for collecting plastic bottle tops for charity, we recommend that you contact the charity in question directly to confirm that they are actually collecting.  Any charity would undoubtedly prefer a quick phone call rather than having bags of unwanted bottle tops arriving unexpectedly. And if you find any more genuine charities who are collecting them, please let us know, so that we can pass the message on.

Printer & Toner Cartridges

Inkjet printer cartridges can be quite easily recycled – many areas have local businesses that will refill cartridges for you, so you can take them along to be refilled yourself. If you don’t want to do that, there are also many charities and organisations that collect used cartridges to help them raise funds. Perhaps your local school collects them to raise extra funds.  Many charities collect them too, and these can often easily be donated to one of their shops.

If all else fails, you may find that you can take them to your local recycling centre.

Toner Cartridges are widely collected as well, often by the same organisations who collect the cartridges.

Here is a list if some organisations who can help you recycle your printer and toner cartridges. Some are only able to accept certain makes of cartridge, so please check before you send or donate them.

  • Recycling Appeal collect empty printer cartridges which are then reconditioned and refilled for resale. You can collect them for your favourite charity or community group and they also work in conjuction with over 20 charities including Oxfam, Scope, Breast Cancer Care, Scottish SPCA, Edinburgh Sick Kids and RNIB.
  • ActionAid Recycling collect both ink and toner cartridges to raise money for the charity Action Aid. They will supply collection boxes for organisations to collect they or freepost envelopes for individual doantions.
  • Cartridges4Charity.co.uk collect cartridges and split the money raised between three charities, SeeAbility, CRUSE Scotland and Cardiac Risk In The Young.
  • Age UK (Formerly Age Concern & Help The Aged) will accept ink and toner cartridges for recycling. They can be donated at your local shop, or if you have 15 items or more to donate they may be able to collect them from you. See website for details.
  • Green Agenda handle used printer ink and toner cartridges for business, charities or educational establishments.
  • Environmental Business Products collect some makes of cartridge for charity. They offer freepost collection bags.
  • Each One Counts collect cartridges and donate the proceeds to various charities.

Recycle Your Computer

Places where the public can donate their personal computers for reuse or recycling. Most organisations and recycling companies will only accept donations of a large number of PCs, so here are places that members of the public can donate single items.

  • PC Recycler
    Based in Blackpool, Lancashire this social enterprise will collect 20 items or more free of charge from anywhere in mainland UK (subject to terms and conditions). Single items can be donated but must be delivered to them. The computers are donated to community projects in Blackpool and the North West.
  • Donate A PC
    Free ‘matchmaking’ service for individuals and organisations to donate un-needed hardware (computers, printers etc) to UK charities, not-for-profit organisations and educational establishments. Post your item on the website and wait for a worthy cause to get in touch.
  • Computer Aid International
    Accept computers from both businesses and individuals and refurbish them to send to schools and other organisations in developing countries. Can be donated from anywhere in the country if you can pay the delivery cost or can be delivered in person to their offices in London, but they ask that you ring ahead to arrange a time.
  • Dell
    If you have a Dell system to donate or have just bought a Dell system, you can donate it for recycling or donation to disabled and economically-disadvantaged children and adults across the UK.
  • UK IT Recycling Ltd
    Will accept home PCs if you can deliver it yourself. They have collection centres all over the UK.

Where Can I Recycle…Floppy Disks?

Floppy Disk

If you have been into computors for more than a few years, you may have a stack of redundant floppy disks stashed away. You don’t want them to go to landfill, so can they be recycled?

We have been able to track down a couple of companies that do recycle that sort of thing however note that they are commercial organisations and charge for their services. If this is what you are looking for try http://www.aawaste.co.uk/Floppy-Disc-And-CD-Destruction-Recycling-and-Shredding.html

Otherwise it is suggested that individuals contact their local council about recycling them.

If any of the discs are genuine, original versions of commercial software (i.e. not copies) you might have some luck selling them on eBay, there does seem to be a small market for that sort of thing. However many people are offering blank or used discs but they don’t seem to attract many bids!

There are a number of creative ideas for reusing floppy disks (not just as coasters) by making something out of them, such as this bag http://www.instructables.com/id/Floppy-Disk-Bag/ which is rather clever or you could make your own model of the Starship Enterprise.

Do you know of any organsations which will accept them from individuals for reuse or recycling? Do you have any other great ideas for recycling them? Contact Us and let us know.

Recycle Your Books

Most of us have a number of books hanging around that we aren’t going to look at again; some of us have a lot!  There are lots of ways you can recycle your books which can benefit yourself or someone else and make a bit more space on your shelves for…….well more books probably!

The obvious place to donate your books is your local charity shop.  However if your local shop has a ‘no books please’ sign up you do have some other options.  Many hospitals appreciate donations of books for patients to read. Try contacting the League of Friends in the first place if your hospital has one.

Books that are in very good condition may be accepted by your local library, either to be included in the lending collection or added to the ex-stock items for sale – they will then raise money for the library to buy new items. It’s best to check first whether they accept donations however before you turn up with a carload of books. By the way, some libraries are interested in old magazines too.

Read a great book and want to share it? Bookcrossing entered the OED in 2004 defined as; n. the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.  Register it with the Bookcrossing website and you are given a unique ID number.  Then just label the book and release it for someone else to read – give it to a friend, leave it on a park bench, donate it to charity, or simply “forget” it in a coffee shop. You can track its progress and see how many people get to share it.

Looking for something a little less altruistic? You can sell your books free of charge on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com – you just pay a small commission if the book sells.  A sum for postage is automatically added to the price and you must post it yourself.  My experience is that more unusual books are more likely to sell, as if you advertise a bestseller you will be in competition with hundreds of people advertising the book for 1p.

Another place that you can advertise your books in the UK is Green Metropolis www.greenmetropolis.com – again you can advertise for free, books cost a flat rate of £3.75 and you get £3.00 for each book that you sell.  Plus 5p for every book sold to the ‘Tree For All’ campaign run by the Woodland Trust.

10 Ways to Save Paper

  1. Use both sides of every piece of paper.  Find out how to make double sided copies when you photocopy.  If you have a piece of paper that is printed on one side only, use the back as rough paper before you finally put it in the recycling box.
  2. Schools and offices are some of the worst offenders for sending out sheaves of A4 sized single sided letters and memos with only a couple of lines of text.  Could you send out that memo A5?  Could you include several topics in one letter?
  3. Stop junk mail by contacting the Mailing Preference Service  and asking to have your name removed from mailing lists. This will reduce it a bit. Also try sending mail back marked ‘Moved Away Please Return To Sender’ – most places get the message eventually! You can also stop that annoying junk that the postman puts through your door by writing to Royal Mail Door to Door Opt Out, Kingsmead House, Oxpens Road, Oxford, OX1 1RX.
  4. Always tick the box to say that you do not want to be sent marketing material whenever you apply for anything by post or online.
  5. Did you realise that Yellow Pages cannot be collected in either the paper banks or kerbside collection schemes in some areas?  Check with your local council to find your nearest dedicated Yellow Pages collection bank.
  6. To stop unwanted free newspapers and leaflets you could phone the companies concerned but a small polite sign on your door asking that no circulars or free newspapers are delivered will probably be more effective.
  7. E-mail or telephone rather than send a letter, and receive documents and statements electronically if given the option. Pay your bills by Direct Debit and ask to receive Bank Statements less frequently.
  8. Old magazines will always be accepted gratefully by many organisations (and by your friends!). Donate them to hospitals, GP surgeries, dentists, libraries or anywhere with a waiting room.
  9. Buy books second hand or borrow books and magazines from your local library.
  10. Remember that people used to use newspaper as toilet paper!

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