Most of the rubbish we throw out can be recycled and re-used so that it can be useful again.
For example, old plastic bottles can be used to make artificial fibres, and can actually come back as clothes.
An aluminium drink can is melted down into ingots, sold to manufacturers, and might become part of a car.
The biggest saving we can make through recycling in in terms of energy – that’s petrol, gas and oil to power vehicles and factories that are all involved in making things in factories.
Making things from scratch takes a lot of energy. So, if we can start with recycled rubbish, it means that we’ve already got the raw materials together to make something new, saving tonnes of natural resources.
How much energy can recycling save?
It takes 24 trees to make a single tonne of newspapers.
Instead, recycling old paper saves 24 trees from being cut down, and also cuts down the amount of energy needed to make new paper by nearly three quarters.
The average family throws away up to 500 bottles and glass jars every year.
Glass is 100% recyclable, which means that every bottle you save is melted down and used again and again. The amount of energy saved in recycling just one bottle, compared to making glass from raw materials, will power your computer for half an hour.
Drinks cans are also 100% recyclable, and can be melted down, sent to a factory and be back on the shelves within a few weeks of being thrown into a rubbish bin – but only if they’re recycled. In terms of energy, every recycled can, compared with making the metal from ore, will power your TV for three hours.
Bottles, paper and tins thrown into landfill are lost to us forever, and that’s just a waste of our resources.
How much more can I recycle?
Let’s look at some more figures.
According to the government, if the contents of the average British dustbin were recycled to its full potential, then the saved energy would power a television for 208 days.
We waste so much food that up to half of the contents of your bin could be composted. Food waste is one of our biggest problems.
By planning your rubbish, you can recycle a lot more than you are now, and you’ll be saving precious resources and energy for the future.