A Nation Of Recyclers

September 24-30 is Recycle Week. Since 2000, our recycling rates in the UK have almost doubled.

More than 80% of us want to recycle more. Sometimes, though, it’s not easy. While it’s technically possible to recycle some items, there’s no market for them. The black plastic food trays used for some ready meals and raw meat are one example. Some items made of mixed materials can’t be recycled at all.

In the “Friend” office quite a lot of post arrives in padded envelopes – mixed paper and plastic. No-one likes putting those in the general waste, but that’s where they have to go. Luckily, we have lots of recycling bins in the office, so it’s easy to sort waste and make sure it goes to the proper place.

We know you, our readers, like to do your bit, too. Lots of you send in tips about reducing and recycling waste.

This morning we had a letter from Mrs C.W. of Leighton Buzzard. She told us how she’s reduced her use of plastic bottles by using good soap instead of handwash and shower gel.

Mystery items

One of the obstacles to even better recycling rates is not knowing what to do with certain items. In our Talking Point page for the October 20 issue, we asked if we should stop using paper till recipts. There was a lively debate about this on our Facebook page. While writing the article, we discovered that some till receipts are coated with BPAs. Because of this, some countries don’t want them in the recycling.

We asked worldwide authority on the packaging, paper and print industry, Smithers Pira, for their advice. Their experts told us:

“There is a simple answer and a more complex answer. The simple answer is that you can put old receipts in the recycling bin.

Local authorities publish a list of materials that can be recycled, which includes till receipts. As a rule of thumb, if you can you scrunch the paper and it doesn’t spring back, then it can be recycled

The more complex answer is that a lot of receipts include BPA which is very challenging to recycle. This is a topic that is getting a lot of scrutiny and continues to be researched. The European Commission is restricting the use of BPA in receipt paper from 2020, and manufacturers are working on finding alternatives. While these manufacturing changes are taking place, it makes sense for consumers to continue to follow the guidance from the local authorities and continue putting receipts in the recycling bin.”

So we’ll be scrunching and checking our paper from now on. For all other puzzling items, there’s a fantastic page on the Recycle Now website with an A-Z of how to deal with almost everything you can think of.

Happy Recycling!

Marion McGivern

As editor of the cookery, money, pets and eco pages, Marion covers a wide range of regular Features content. Along with the rest of the Team, she enjoys finding interesting features for both the weekly and Special issues that readers will love. Having so much variety every day means that over ten years with the “Friend” has just flown by!