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Recycling Facts

These make quite alarming reading - if we want to have any kind of planet to pass on to our children and grandchildren, perhaps we need to be a little more aware of our actions. No one has to save the planet single-handedly but if we each took a few small steps, we can achieve great things together.

  • We get through nearly 3 billion disposable nappies each year in the UK alone and around 90% of these end up on landfill sites. Disposable nappies take 500 years to decompose.
  • Over 20,000 tonnes of batteries are sent to landfill site in the UK each year. It takes 50 times more energy to make a battery than it gives during its life.
  • Each day, we produce enough rubbish to fill Trafalgar Square to the height of Nelson's Column.
  • Each year, one person gets through 90 drink cans, 70 food cans, 107 bottles and jars and 45kg of plastic.
  • 55 million 2-litre plastic bottles are thrown away just in Bristol each year.
  • The UK uses about 12 billion cans each year - that's enough to stretch to the moon and back!
  • On average each person in England and Wales produces nearly 500kg of household waste a year.
  • 7 million trees are cut down every year just to make disposable nappies.
  • The average British family throws away 6 trees worth of paper in their household bin a year.
  • Every tonne of paper recycled saves 17 trees.
  • 25% of household waste is packaging and we throw £36 million worth of aluminium into landfill sites.
  • Five out of six glass bottles are thrown away.

Each household produces around one tonne of waste every year, which equates to around 29.1 million tonnes for the UK each year. That is the same weight of approximately 4.85 million male African Elephants!

The amount of waste that we throw away is increasing for a number of reasons:

  • new packaging materials and technology is being developed
  • lifestyle changes. For example, a greater reliance on fast and convenience food
  • increasing affluence, leading to greater consumption of goods
  • increasing population

Today's waste, compared to pre-1960s rubbish, contains more products that don't break down when they are put into the ground. Packaging waste makes up about a quarter of all of the waste you put into your bin. Most of this waste could be recycled. We need to increase the amount of waste that is being recycled, because we cannot carry on burying and burning waste forever. This is recognised by the government who are thinking of ways to reduce the amount of waste that we produce and increase the amount we reuse and recycle.