Doubts about waste recycling? Here are the most common questions

Doubts about waste recycling? Here are the most common questions

Recycling is much more than a social commitment, it is the way in which each one of us can take care of the environment in an active and direct way. But how much do you actually know about recycling? We will give you the answers to the most common questions about recycling.

Where to dispose of contact lenses?

The first thing you have to know is that contact lenses are not biodegradable. This means that they cannot be flushed down the toilet, as you would be contributing to contaminating the water with microplastics.

So do we have to put them in the recycling container? Well neither, since it is doesn’t belong to any type of container. Contact lenses go directly to the residual waste container. The one with mixed waste that cannot be sorted out for recycling.

Where to put the pizza boxes?

The pizza boxes are made of cardboard but can they be thrown away with old newspapers? The answer to this question has caused some controversy.

According to environmental associations such as Greenpeace, Ecologists in Action and Friends of the Earth, no matter how much cardboard it contains, it should not be thrown into the paper container, since a stained cardboard box can no longer be recycled. Therefore it should go to the residual waste container. Importantly though, not the whole box tends to get dirty, so you can remove the clean part and throw it in the paper recycling container.

What belongs with organic waste?

The organic waste container is not yet present in all cities, but it is on its way. In some municipalities there are initiatives to create composting areas by neighborhoods or communities. In others it is decided to include one more container for organic waste.

Be that as it may be, in this container you have to put the remains of food (e.g. egg shells, infusion or tea bags, shellfish remains), used kitchen paper, potting soil or garden remains, authentic cork stoppers, grounds of coffee etc. In short, everything that has an untreated natural origin or is biodegradable.

What cannot be included in this container are pads or diapers. You cannot put droppings of any kind, wipes (even if they say they are biodegradable on the package), remains of the ashtray or coffee capsules, cat litter or textile remains with organic waste.

Where can you throw away used oil?

Used oil should not be thrown down the sink or the toilet, it is essential that you take this into account and act accordingly.

Recycling oil is the simplest thing there is. You can use it to turn it into homemade soap for example. You will be impressed by how easy it is and how few materials or ingredients you need. On the other hand, if you prefer to recycle, you simply have to store it at home in a plastic bottle (you can reuse the water or oil bottles) and fill them up.

All oils can be recycled but you cannot mix food oils with motor or industrial oils.

Where to throw away coffee capsules?

Many misunderstandings circulate on the internet regarding the recycling of these coffee capsules. The first thing you have to know is that these should not be put in the recycling container, regardless whether they are aluminium or plastic.

In some areas, there are collection points with a section for coffee capsules. Another option is to check with the brand of coffee capsules as they usually have collection areas themselves.

How to throw away tetra bricks?

It’s understandable that there is confusion among many people about tetra bricks, whether they are for milk, juice or any other product. In its composition, it has a high cardboard content, which is why the controversy arises. Does it belong with paper recycling?

Certainly not! Tetra bricks also contain plastic and aluminum, two compounds that make them suitable for recycling with other packaging materials.

Organic waste – why waste separation really works!

Organic waste – why waste separation really works!

To get straight to the point: Yes, waste separation works! And yes, disposing of organic waste separately makes sense in many ways and is not some crazy idea of some eco-hardliners. But why? Millions of tons of organic waste are collected in the UK every year in the organic waste bin, mainly kitchen and garden waste. In the fermentation and composting plants, this is used to produce biogas, which helps us to become less dependent on natural gas imports in terms of energy and to protect the climate. On the other hand, these plants produce huge amounts of compost from the organic waste, which is useful in agriculture. We need less artificial fertilizer, which in turn protects the nature and the climate.

Collecting and recycling organic waste separately makes twice as much sense!

The lawmakers have also recognized this. Since 2015, cities and municipalities in the UK have been obliged to provide a system for the separate collection of organic waste. Not all municipalities comply with this obligation. And far too many only offer organic waste bins voluntarily instead of using them as a mandatory requirement. The result: Millions of tons of valuable organic waste end up in the residual waste bin.

When it comes to the collection of organic waste, not everything runs smoothly. A lot of recyclable waste still ends up in the residual waste. An average residual waste bin contains:

39.3% organic waste
27.6% recyclables such as plastic, metal and glass
0.5% problematic substances
and only 32.6% real residual waste!

If we were to collect it consistently in the UK, an estimated eight million tons of organic waste would come together – as a valuable raw material for energy production and for agriculture. So there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to separating waste!

Too many “mistakes”

Fatally, not only does too much organic waste end up in the residual waste, but also too much residual waste and recyclables in the organic bins. The experts call it “mistakes”. One thing is clear: plastic bags, glass and cans have no place in the organic waste bin! They contaminate the organic waste and thus also the valuable compost that is to be produced at the end. After all, it makes little sense to spread microplastics and other waste on the fields together with the compost. Unfortunately, removing this waste from the organic waste is extremely time-consuming and therefore not a practicable option.

Principles for the bio bin

It is therefore important that we all use the organic waste bin sensibly. It’s not rocket science, you just need to remember a few basic rules. Although be aware: what is allowed in the organic waste bin and what is not can vary from region to region. The local waste management companies regulate the details individually. So it’s worth checking the website of the municipality or the local waste management company.

Basically, however:

Kitchen waste, spoiled food, coffee grounds, small amounts of garden waste, cut flowers and much more belong in the bin.
Ashes, diapers, packaging, hygiene articles and plastics do not belong in the bin – even if it is described as “biodegradable”!
It is best to collect organic waste in separate small containers, which are then regularly tipped into the large bin. The waste can be wrapped in (little) paper so that there is no mess. Important: Do not use brightly printed paper! Special, coated bags made of (recycled) paper are also okay.
However, special “compostable” plastic bags are generally not suitable. In most recycling plants, they count as contaminants. The local municipality or the waste management company will also provide information on this.
Organic waste from the kitchen is thrown straight from a bowl into the bio bin. Compost in your own garden.
A word on the disposal of food: Millions of tons are thrown away in the UK every year – an unbelievably large amount. The top priority must be to actually consume the food we buy instead of throwing it away. And only if something is spoiled does it belong in the compost bin!

So it’s actually not that difficult to dispose of organic waste sensibly – if you know the basics.