What a great coincidence that this month’s column lands during Recycle Week, the national campaign that encourages us to get organised and recycle more.
And this year I’ve had the pleasure of motivating the nation over the airwaves, excitedly kicking off the week with presenters Penny Smith and Paul Ross, at their BBC London studio, and then ‘travelling’ around the country from the comfort of a professional radio broadcast bunker.
Almost every 15 minutes – along with a spokesperson from WRAP, which organises Recycle Week - I was connected to a new presenter from as north as Yorkshire and Lancashire to as far south as Devon and Cornwall, sharing the news that while nine out of ten of us regularly recycle in the kitchen, only 50 per cent have got it sorted in the bathroom.
And it’s here where we can make the difference, remembering to recycle the bottles from our shampoo, conditioners and shower gel, as well as detergents. Research by the plastics industry has shown that even though the average household uses 440 plastic bottles per year, only 250 make it to the recycling bin. So having a recycling bin in the bathroom definitely helps. And don’t forget those roll tubes too. According to Recycle Now’s research, a quarter of us in East Anglia still bung those in the rubbish bin.
Of course, Recycle Week is also the perfect opportunity to sort out any confusion about what else can be recycled. Wherever you live, it takes only five minutes to check the Recycling Locator at www.recyclenow.com.
However, the best source of local info is Suffolk’s very own website at www.suffolkrecycle.info. Here, under the guidance of ‘Bernie the Binman’, you can also discover what happens to your recycling and how it measures up in money savings. It’s also a great place to catch up with Suffolk’s campaigns. And did you know that in the year that followed Suffolk’s ‘Plastics, know your place’ campaign, approximately 816 tonnes more plastic was recycled? Given the lightweight nature of the material, that is a heck of a lot of plastic!
But it’s not just council websites that have the role of passing on information. If you want to see the country’s recycling rate increase, it’s down to us too and it can be as easy as sharing the links on Facebook or Twitter.
And I’m particularly delighted that local company Precision Marketing has got behind Recycle Week with a fun approach to raising awareness amongst its employees, encouraging them to bring their rubbish problems to work this week and discuss waste-busting solutions. I love the idea of their “Bin Geek of the Week” award.
And how timely that Our Bury St Edmunds’ AGM was also held this week. It was a pleasure to attend with fellow guest Kate McFarland from St Edmundsbury Borough Council, who spoke about the value of recycling more at work and the benefits of the council’s free waste audits.
Waste reduction and recycling has an incredible impact. This week, I was stunned to discover that current UK recycling is estimated to save more than 18m tonnes of CO2 a year, which already equates environmentally to taking 5 million cars off the road.
And the small actions we take can increase that impact. For instance, if everyone in the UK recycled one aluminum air freshener aerosol, enough energy could be saved to vacuum over 876,000 homes for a year. To put it into context, that’s enough to cover Norfolk and Suffolk as well as stretch a little way over the border into Essex.
What I’d like to know now is, once we’ve increased our recycling, who’s offering to do all that vacuuming?