Recycling is an activity that most of us do now as part of our everyday lives. Already Scottish households recycle over a third of their waste, with 88% of Scottish households stating that they recycle at least one material1. Below are a few facts from The Scottish Environment Protection Agency, to challenge yourself to improve your own recycling habits.
•The volume of waste produced in the UK in one hour would fill the Albert Hall (source: LGB Publications).
•In one day there would be enough waste to fill Trafalgar Square up to the top of Nelson's Column (source: LGB Publications).
•In just over a week, we produce enough rubbish to fill Wembley stadium. Over half can be recycled (source: DETR).
•In one year there would be enough waste to fill dustbins stretching from the Earth to the Moon (source: LGB Publications).
•Packaging is typically 25-35% by weight of dustbin waste, but developments in material strength and manufacturing technologies have allowed less material to contain the same volume of goods. Compared to 50 years ago:
- food cans are 50% lighter
- yoghurt pots are 60% lighter
- glass milk bottles are 50% lighter
- plastic carrier bags are half as thick.
•Reducing the weight of packaging saves on transport costs and emissions as well as reducing consumption of raw materials (source: INCPEN).
•Every year in the UK we use 13 billion steel cans which, if placed end to end, would stretch to the moon three times (source: Steel Can Recycling Information Bureau).
•Producing steel from recycled materials saves 75% of the energy needed to make steel from virgin materials (source: Steel Can Recycling Information Bureau).
•About 20,000 tonnes of aluminium foil packaging, worth £8 million, is wasted each year. Only 3,000 tonnes is recycled, worth £1.2 million (source: alupro).
•If all the aluminium cans sold in the UK were recycled, there would be 12 million fewer full dustbins each year (source: Alucan).
•Each tonne of paper recycled saves 15 average-sized trees, as well as their surrounding habitat and wildlife (source: World Wildlife Fund).
•Reclaimed waste paper represents around 63% of the fibre used to produce paper and board in the UK (source: The Paper & Pulp Information Centre).
•The energy saving from recycling one bottle will:
- power a 100 watt light bulb for almost an hour
- power a computer for 25 minutes
- power a colour TV for 20 minutes
- power a washing machine for 10 minutes.
•Up to 90% of new glass can be made from reclaimed scrap glass, which saves energy and raw materials (source: British Glass).
•On average, every family in the UK uses around 330 glass bottles and jars each year. However, we only recycle 30% of these containers.
•There are more than 50,000 bottle banks in the UK (source: British Glass).
•It is estimated that if 30% of the current consumption of thermoplastics in the UK could be recycled to replace virgin raw materials, substantial energy savings would be achieved and carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced by about 3 million tonnes per year (source: ETSU).
•Of the 2.4 million tonnes of plastic waste, an estimated 1,400,000 tonnes is household plastic waste, 200,000 tonnes is 'process scrap', and 800,000 tonnes is commercial waste. 61% of the total plastic waste from Western Europe is packaging, which typically has a 'life' of less than 12 months (source: AEA Technology).
Other household waste
•About a third of household waste is kitchen and garden waste. (source: INCPEN).
•Another third of household waste is paper - support paper recycling schemes (source: INCPEN).