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Home ยป Waste-free Living ยป Everything You Need to Know About Recycling

Everything You Need to Know About Recycling

Do you recycle?

We have been recycling for years. It started with just paper, the school my mom used to work at was a collection point. They eventually added glass, tin and plastic, so we would drop those items off as well. It is now a way of life.

A few facts about recycling that show just the difference recycling can make.

  • One recycled tin can saves enough energy to power a television for three hours.
  • One recycled glass bottle saves enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes.
  • One recycled plastic bottle saves enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for three hours.
  • The unreleased energy contained in the average dustbin each year could power a television for 5,000 hours.
  • Roughly, 16% of the cost of a product is for the packaging, which you end up throwing away.

While our focus is obviously on reducing, whatever we can’t reduce we recycle. Very little of the waste in our house actually goes into the rubbish bin, all food waste and compostable paper goes into the compost and we recycle as much as we can.

Before you start recycling, you need to know what to recycle. Not all plastic or paper can actually be recycled.

What can you recycle?

  • Soda bottles, water bottles, and fruit juice bottles
  • Milk bottles and cartons
  • Boxes – medicine boxes, cosmetic boxes, toilet roll cores, food boxes
  • Packaging films
  • Clear jars
  • Bubble wrap
  • Bread bags
  • Aluminum cans including rusty cans
  • Paint, oil and aerosol cans
  • Yogurt tubs, margarine tubs, ice cream containers

It is important to take note of what you can’t recycle. This is important to know so that you do not put these items into your recycling and so that you try to reduce or find alternative products to use.

A lot of the packaging that can’t be recycled, we place in our eco-bricks.

What you can’t recycle!

  • Chip packets, sweet wrappers, sauce sachets
  • Dirty paper plates
  • Light bulbs
  • Washing powder bags
  • Nappies and wet wipes
  • Food waste (but you can compost them)
  • Plastic shopping bags
  • Ceramic cups and plates
  • Contaminated domestic cling film
  • Cosmetic and personal care containers
  • Electronic waste
  • Multilayer PET bottles (energy drink bottles, alcoholic beverages, and ciders)
  • Sandwich trays and confectionery packaging
  • Soiled PVC-U packaging

Before you just throw these items into your recycling bins, do the following

  1. Separate items – ideally keep like items together.
  2. Rinse each item thoroughly.
  3. Air dry each item before placing in your recycle bin/box

Set up a mini recycling station in your home so that your family can easily see what needs to go where.

There are a few ways you can get rid of your recycling.

  • There are a few companies around Gauteng who collect your recycling for a small fee.
  • Our local library has big paper and glass bins so do some of our local supermarkets.
  • Woolies has little bins in some of its stores. They collect used batteries and lightbulbs.
  • Our refuse collection company does recycle, so we make sure our items are separated.
  • We have “trash pickers” that walk around once a week. Pre-lockdown I would give them our recycling, they aren’t currently coming to our area.
  • Some schools still do collections once a week.
  • You can take your paper directly to the Impak center in Midrand.

You just need to figure out the best way for you and your family but it doesn’t have to difficult or time consuming. Once you have a routine going, it is pretty easy.

If you are new to recycling, start small. Focus on paper for the first month, once you are in the habit of collecting paper, start collecting glass, then tin until you have a full on recycling system happening.

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