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Are you recycling correctly? (Hint: You’re not)

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Virtually everybody is making the same simple mistakes

Nearly every household in the country is making simple mistakes that reduce the amount that they recycle because they’re not washing and squashing.

That’s the bad news according to the UK’s fastest-growing commercial waste and recycling company, which says that with literally the tiniest bit of extra effort, we can all get our rubbish game back up to scratch.

According to York-based Business Waste, the simple errors we’re all making include keeping lids on plastic bottles and failing to wash out food containers.

“You may think we’re being extra fussy, but we’re not,” says Business Waste spokesperson Mark Hall, “Getting your recycling wrong means extra work and extra costs, and could even result in whole loads being rejected at the recycling plant.”

Business Waste the waste management and recycling company carried out its own research by auditing 20,000 domestic refuse collection rounds throughout the UK in July of this year, and found that only 6% of households recycled their waste correctly as per guidelines.

This means:
• All refuse correctly is separated according to local authority regulations
• Glass, plastic bottles and foil food trays rinsed or washed
• Lids removed from jars and plastic bottles
• Metal cans and plastic containers crushed

“Lids on left plastic bottles make all the difference in the recycling business,” says Hall, “and it’s a simple five-second job to take them off and throw them away.

“We can’t recycle the lids and bottles together.”

The reason for this is simple, Hall explains: Plastic bottles and their lids are made of different kinds of plastic. Melting them down together results in unacceptable contamination, leaving the “new” plastic unusable.

“Just bin the lids!” he says. “Otherwise, some poor person at the recycling plant has to pop them all off by hand. And nobody’s a fan of that.”

Business Waste says a simple household strategy will get people recycling better, and it’s one the government, local councils and refuse collection companies has been quietly pushing for years:

It’s this: Wash and squash

Rinsing out used containers and squeezing the air out of them removes contamination and means recycling is more energy efficient. That makes the whole process worthwhile for everybody.

“Just rinse out containers, then squash them flat, simple as that,” say Hall. However, he says, there’s nothing wrong with using the full force of modern technology to give you a helping hand: “The dishwasher’s fine,” he says.

Business Waste managing director David Adams says: “We always run everything through the dishwasher on eco-friendly mode with the regular washing up.

“Then it’s ready for the recycling bin with zero extra effort. Any householder can do that – just don’t do special loads for your rubbish, because that’s unbelievably wasteful!”

While the 6% who get it right can give themselves a deserved pat on the back, Business Waste says that the rest of us only have to make minor changes to up our recycling game.

“Yes, we’re all making mistakes with our household rubbish”, says Hall, “But that doesn’t make us all recycling criminals.”

“If you think about recycling when you’re standing over the bin, chances are you’ll do the right thing,” he says.

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