Why Is Recycling So Complicated?! 8 Common Questions Answered

Natasha Hinde

Recycling is complex. There, we said it. Yes, it should be the simplest thing in the world – popping your cardboard, paper and plastic bottle into that box – and Bob’s your uncle. But actually, there’s a lot more to consider when it comes to recycling your waste. Is it clean enough? Is it actually recyclable? And which item goes in which bin?!

To add an extra layer of confusion to your rubbish pile, the recycling process varies from local authority to local authority – so you’ll probably have to learn the process all over again if and when you move house. It’s confusing but worth getting to grips with, as you could save so much stuff from going to landfill. We’ve broken the basics down, to help get you started.

1. How can you find out what your council recycles?

The first thing you should be doing when you move to a new area is checking out the recycling situation because, believe us when we say this, it can vary massively from place to place. Visit your local council’s website and head to the recycling and waste section, and you should be able to find a list of what can and can’t be recycled in your area. Or email your local council which should be able to provide you with a list or further details. Most councils recycle paper, card, clean foil, glass and some types of plastic.

2. So what type of plastic can be recycled?

This varies from council to council, too, but the most commonly recycled item is probably the humble plastic bottle – you know, the one you get your milk, water or fruit juice in. Wash the bottle out, squish it down and stick the lid back on before you drop it in the recyling. And this goes for many bathroom and cleaning products, too (though check the label if in doubt).

Some councils also recycle clear plastic tubs, pots and trays, but it really depends on where you live. According to Recycle Now, 79% of councils collect rigid plastic packaging such as these items in household recycling collections.

3. What type of plastic...

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