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the UK has made huge strides toward reducing the amount of waste and packaging that ends up in the traditional bin by opening a large number of recycling centres across the country, but there’s a lot more to do and we face a unique set of challenges in the coming years to meet the EU targets.

So remember the adage “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” and check where your local recycling facility is.

Plastic Packaging in the UK

Since 1997, all but four of our landfill sites have been closed down and the government have opened a total of 94 ‘civic amenity centres’ and ‘recycling centres’ around the country. In addition to this, we now have more than 1700 bring banks allowing people to easily dispose of common items such as bottles and clothes.

And there’s more positive reports from Repak who announced that since ’97, they’ve processed more than 10 million tonnes of packaging. This makes the UK one of the top countries for packaging recycling in the EU. But it’s not all good news on the packaging front.

Despite the UK’s positive record and hard work toward the EU directives, we have found ourselves at the mercy of shifting sands caused by development. The changing nature of international recycling business has meant that China, who process 95% of our plastic packaging, has decided to stop taking EU plastics. It seems that it is no longer financially viable and as the EU’s top producer of waste packaging, this puts us in a very difficult position.

It seems that whilst we focused on ‘recycle’ we forgot the ‘reduce’ part of the equation meaning that with the closure of landfills, the UK’s recycling efforts are facing crisis in 2019.

WEEE the UK & Battery Recycling

the UK’s efforts for the EU’s WEEE initiative (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Drive), introduced in 2002, has seen its most successful year to date. WEEE the UK reported 35,708 tonnes of e-waste had been recycled and 874 tonnes of batteries had been saved from landfills in 2017. This comes in at over 10kg per person and continues the trend of the UK surpassing the EU targets.

End of Life Vehicle (ELV) the UK

ELVs are classified as cars that can take up to 8 passengers and a driver or small commercial vehicles that weigh less than 3.5 tonnes. First all possible pollutants such as car batteries and waste oils are removed. Then various parts are removed like windows, mirrors and tires and sent for recycling. Then the vehicle itself is sent to a shredding facility to recover metals. the UK has a total of 168 ‘Authorised Treatment Facilities’ that can process ELVs.

Despite a positive trend since the ELV directive was introduced in 2009, the UK has stumbled in the last number of years and failed to reach the EU target of 95% reuse and recovery by about 3% and missing the ‘reuse and recycling’ target by about 2%.

To meet this targets in the future, the UK needs to increase the efficiency of the ATF’s processing.

the UK has done a lot to improve it’s sustainability over the last number of years. Not just with the introduction of high quality recycling centres, but also making passive housing attainable via the SEAI grant program, and raising the awareness of the public of the viability of alternative energy sources such as solar and thermal.

Where To Recycle Household Items?

The majority of household items can disposed of at your local recycling centre or civic amenity centre. But be sure to think consider if someone else might get use out of the item first.

Charity shops are able to great work on the donations made by the public. They take a variety of items including clothes, furniture and technology.

Where Can I Recycle Books?

Books are of great value be it school or university text books or novels and should be donated to charity. There are a range of different charities across the UK that accept books of all descriptions including Oxfam and Barnardos.

But don’t forget that second hand bookshops are always on the lookout for rare books and if you think you have a gem, you could try selling it on ebay.

Where Can I Recycle Bras?

Whilst there are some charities that accept used / worn bras, probably your best bet is to check mariekeating.ie/saybravo/ who has done a bra collection once a year since 2014. It’s in aid of British Breast Cancer Awareness.

Where Can I Recycle Brita Water Cartridges / Filters?

Water filters are not generally recyclable however Brita water filters are. In years past, you were asked to send your old water filters to Bluestone Distributors the UK at the following address.

Bluestone Sales & Distribution Ltd
FREEPOST 46
Oaktree Business Park
Trim
Co. Meath

However, you can now also drop your empties into any Argos store who will take care of it for you too.

Where Can I Recycle Cans?

Tin and aluminium cans go in the green bin as you probably expected and if for some reason you have a kitchen full of these you can drop them off en mass to your local recycling or civic amenity centre.

Where Can I Recycle Car Seats?

A car seat or baby seat would be considered “bulky waste” and you should really take a trip to your local recycling centre to dispose of it. If you were feeling lucky though you could chance your arm and leave it out for the bin man. Just don’t be too disappointed when you see it still there the next day.

Where Can I Recycle Cardboard Boxes / Paper / Magazines?

This is kind of a no brainer, all this can go in your green bin for collection by your local rubbish company. Unless you are a hoarder on a cleaning spree, in that case you can load up the car and take it to your local recycling / civic amenity centre.

Where Can I Recycle Christmas Cards?

The internet asks some weird questions. Used Xmas cards should go in the green bin. If you have unused Xmas cards, then any of the local charity shops would be glad to take them. Just use your head, most of the greeting card companies purposefully print a year on the card so that new cards have to be bought every year. Don’t donate cards with last year printed on them. 

Where Can I Recycle Clothes?

The first things to do is check what condition the clothes are in. If you think they are in good nick, the local charity shops would love to take them. All of the charity shops have systems whereby donated clothes are professionally washed and either sold at a market to second hand shops or set back out to their own outlets around the country. Second hand clothes are big business for the various charities.

If you think item of clothing is borderline, donate it and let the charity decide.

With 5.6% of all waste in the UK being textiles, if you are sure that the clothing is of little value to anyone, you can bring it to your local recycling centre or alternatively there are a number of companies that specialise in textile recycling including lenrec.ie and trl.ie.

If you are of the opinion that charity begins at home and determined to get some shekels back for your worn items, then you have some options depending on the type of clothes.

Siopaella is a Dublin based shop that sells second hand designer clothes. And Cash 4 Clothes is another business that takes bags of items and shoes but word on the street is they pay very little.

There are several online marketplaces that cater to second hand clothes including Depop, Thredup, Tradesy and Poshmark.

Where Can I Recycle Cooking Oil?

Pouring oil down the sink is a terrible idea and will very quickly cause you problems that only a plumber can fix. On top of that, pouring oils down the drain also effects the water treatment process and places unnecessary burden on our civic resources.

The best thing to do is to keep the oil in a glass jar or cartoon and when you have enough, bring it to your local recycling centre for disposal.

Where Can I Recycle Down Feathers, Duvets & Pillows?

Your local civic amenity centre will take them at no cost.

Where Can I Recycle Eyeglasses / Spectacles / Reading Glasses?

There are several charities that specialise in recycling reading glasses and sunglasses of all types including visionaidoverseas.org. You can drop your old spectacles off at any Vision Express or Specsavers shop for collection.

Where Can I Recycle Flower Pots?

Old flower pots can be recycled at your local civic amenity centre for a small fee.

Where Can I Recycle Food Waste?

Food waste can be used to create a compost heap in your garden or for those who don’t have a garden, most refuse collection companies take food waste in the brown bin.

If for some reason you have a huge amount of food waste, a quick trip to your local recycling centre might be in order. But check their website first as some centres charge a nominal fee.

Where Can I Recycle Furniture?

Again the first thing to consider is, can the furniture be used by someone? If the answer is yes, then you should contact your local charity shop. Oxfam take most furniture that is in good condition including beds but not mattresses. Another option is the Simon community who are always on the lookout for furniture that’s in good condition.

If it’s definitely past its best and it’s of little use to anyone then furniture is usually considered ‘bulky waste’ by the local recycling centre and you’ll be charged a fee. Check with your local centre for full details.

Where Can I Recycle Glass Bottles?

There are bottle banks scattered all over the country check our map for the nearest one.

Where Can I Recycle Hangers?

Your local charity shop would be a good option for hangars. Give them a call to see if the need any.

Wire hangars are often difficult to recycle due to many coming with a plastic coating.

Where Can I Recycle Mattresses?

This is the answer

Where Can I Recycle Mattresses?

Most recycling and civic amenity centres will take mattresses but check and see if there is a fee. Alternately, if you live in the Dublin area, there is a company called Eco Mattress Recycling that will collect the mattress from your house for a small fee. Check their website for details.

Where Can I Recycle Plastic Bags?

Most recycling centres will accept clean plastic bags and plastic water bottles. But remember that any plastic bottle or container that a household cleaning liquid should go in the household hazardous waste section.

You should always clean any plastic bottle or container before recycling.

Where Can I Recycle Plastic Bottles?

This is the answer

Where Can I Recycle Plastic Flower Pots?

This is the answer

Where Can I Recycle Shoes?

Many shoe companies are beginning to realise the number of old pairs of footwear out there is growing, with several initiating new schemes to recycle these old brogues. Cotswoldoutdoor, Nike and Vans all have programs but you’ll need to check their website for the latest details.

Where Can I Recycle Tetra Packs?

Cartons can be recycled and should go in the green bin. Make sure to rinse the tetra pack with water before compacting it and placing in your green bin.

Where Can I Recycle Toys?

Like with anything else you are eyeing for the bin, the first consideration should be, is it in good condition and could someone else make use of it? If the answer is yes to both, then charities such as the Simon community or the Red Cross have shops across the country and would love hear from you.

On the off chance that you are sitting on some collector’s item of great value, a quick search of eBay will tell you if you can start booking that holiday.

Where Can I Recycle Trophies?

Trophies are usually made of recyclable materials and whilst we couldn’t find anywhere that takes them, you could break the trophy into its different parts and recycle each part in its different section in your local recycle centre.

A somewhat sad end to a trophy, you’ll agree.

Where To Recycle Electronics, Appliances & Computers?

Most recycling facilities take general electronic waste including appliances but for anything out of the ordinary, you should call ahead first to confirm with the facility.

Where Can I Recycle Lithium Batteries & Laptop Batteries?

All batteries including lithium ion, industrial, automotive, laptop batteries etc, can be disposed of in two ways.

  • Return the battery to any retailer selling that item.
  • Take the spent battery to your local civic amenity centre
Where Can I Recycle Christmas Lights?

Xmas lights are mixed waste and as such not really recycle able. You can consult your local civic amenity centre to see if they’ll take them.

Where Can I Recycle Computers & Laptops?

Under WEEE regulations, shops that sell computers are legally required to accept old computers. But you can also go to your local civic amenity centre.

Another option is to donate your old laptop computer to a charity. Camara.org and Promise IT, both are good causes and should be considered by private citizens and businesses.

One company working in the Leinster area, will collect your old electronic appliance including computers and dispose of it along WEEE standards.

Just remember to remove wipe all storage devices completely before disposing of any computer.

Where Can I Recycle Dvds & Dvd Cases?

Cd and Dvd cases are easy, they are rigid plastic and can go in your green bin or be dropped off at your local recycle centre.

Most civic amenity centres will take cds and dvds but think about their condition first, could the charity shop sell them?

Where Can I Recycle Regular, Cfl Halogen, Led & Fluorescent Light Bulbs?

Regular old light bulbs, led lights and CFL and the older Fluorescent strip lights cans can be taken to your local civic amenity site. Under the latest WEEE guidelines, you are also able to return the bulb to any shop that sells them.

Where Can I Recycle Ink Toner Cartridges?

Old printer related parts is big business. You can usually get your printer cartridge refilled saving both the environment and your pocket. There are several shops around the country that specifically focus on this one job. And they will often purchase the old cartridge should you want to sell. But there are other options too.

There are a range of charities including the dogstrust.ie and the ISPCA that get a reasonable amount when you donate your old ink toner cartridges to them. If you are in a hurry, you can always bring your printer cartridge to an electronics shop that sells printers. Under WEEE law, they are obliged to take it off you and dispose of it.

Where Can I Recycle Microwaves / Fridges / Tvs / Vacuum Cleaners?

All household appliances can be recycled at recycling centres and at the point of purchase.

Where Can I Recycle Coffee Pods & Capsules?

Nespresso is one company that is taking a proactive stance on creating a greener future. They will collect your empty coffee pods and capsules from your house next time you are buying in what they have dubbed the ‘swap it’ service.

Other companies are joining the action with Dolce Gusto announcing a similar scheme. Check their website for details.

Where Can I Recycle Video Tapes?

Before recycling that old video collection gathering dust in on your shelf, check the internet because some videos are worth a lot of money now to collectors. Particularly one of specials.

If you’ve checked and you are not sitting on a winning lottery ticket, then the next step might just be a trip to the recycling centre.

Where To Recycle Green Waste, Hardware & Industrial Waste?

the UK’s recycling points range in the different materials that they accept. There are some specialised facilities for green waste and composting as not all faculties are capable of processing timber and garden waste.

If you are looking to dispose of DIY builders rubble, you should call ahead first as the different recycling sites have changing policies.

Where Can I Recycle Engine Oil?

Most civic amenity centres such as Ballymount will take engine oil at no cost.

Where Can I Recycle Fire Extinguishers?

Fire extinguishers are considered as hazardous and must be disposed of at a recycling centre.

Where Can I Recycle Foam Or Styrofoam?

The answer to that question is the infuriating one that goes ‘Well, that depends’. You’ll have to contact your local recycling centre to find out as many don’t accept these materials. The reason is that it’s really not cost effective.

Where Can I Recycle Garden Waste?

Garden waste is also referred to as green waste and is accepted at all civic amenity centres around the country. In addition to this, you can also dispose of garden waste at selected green waste points. These points are not very common at the moment but check our map to see if there is one in your locale.

Where Can I Recycle Gas Cylinders?

Gas cylinders placed in dustbins have been known to explode when crushed in bin lorry compactors, so it’s probably best not to do that.

Gas companies usually will take empty cylinders for free and as a last resort give your local recycling centre a call as they will also take it.

Where Can I Recycle Metal?

There are a small number of specialised metal recycling companies dotted around the country. Check our map to find one local to you.

Where Can I Recycle Paint & Paint Tins?

Most recycling centres will accept hazardous materials such as paint and other home chemicals. But it’s best to give a quick call first to make sure.

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