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Why is Recycling Important?

Climate emergencies have been declared, David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II brought home the devastating effects that plastic waste is having on the environment and on wildlife, and there has been an increased emphasis on the need to recycle.

We’re a hugely consumer-driven society, and recycling converts the things we throw away into new items, making sure that none of the energy and raw materials used to make them goes to waste. It also prevents the air and ground pollution, and the release of greenhouse gases that results from dumping was waste on landfill sites.

But recycling does much more than this. You might think that dutifully putting your plastic bottles and aluminium cans in the recycling doesn’t make that much of a difference, but take it from us, it really does.

Why is recycling important?

Recycling preserves precious natural resources

Recycling items rather than using raw materials to make new things preserves the planet’s natural resources which, in the face of population growth and growing demand, won’t last forever.

It saves energy

Recycling materials uses less energy than extracting, processing, and transporting raw materials to make new products.

It causes far less harm to the environment and animals than extracting raw materials

Think about how raw materials are usually extracted, and what harm these activities might do to the earth. Mining, quarrying, logging, and fracking all cause harm to the planet by causing air and water pollution. These activities can also destroy precious animal habitats.

It reduces the amount of waste that is sent to landfill

Recycling more reduces the amount of waste we send to landfill. When waste sits rotting away on landfill, it leaches toxins into the groundwater and soil, and gives off greenhouse gases like methane as it decomposes, which contributes to global warming. Not only that, if recyclable items are sent to landfill, the precious raw materials and energy that went into making them are lost.

Recycling creates jobs

The more we recycle; the more jobs are created in recycling plants. There will also be more jobs created in recycling innovation and technology, new packaging and product design, and more as the industry develops.

What are the most commonly recycled items?

When it comes to recycling, some items are more widely-recycled than others. These are the materials that are easily recycled and don’t reduce in quality once they’ve been recycled. If you get confused every time you go to your recycling bin, know that these items are no cause for concern.


This is one of the most easily recycled materials, which is good news, considering how many drinks cans we use. Drinks cans can easily made into new cans with no loss in the quality of the material.

Paper and cardboard

Paper and cardboard is usually easily recycled (unless it has excessive tape or embellishment attached or it is soiled). Newspapers in the UK are made exclusively from recycled paper.


Glass is easy to recycle and turn into other products like new jars, bottles, and road surfaces. It uses far less energy to recycle glass than to make new glass from raw materials.

What are the hardest things to recycle?

The things that are hard (or virtually impossible) to recycle, are usually items made of a combination of materials. This makes processing very difficult once they reach the recycling plant. Pringles tubes are one of the most obvious examples we can think of when it comes to hard to recycle items. The packaging contains metal, foil, cardboard, and plastic, making it a recycler’s nightmare. Other hard to recycle items include:

Black plastic ready-meal and food trays

Black plastic often gets missed by the infra-red sensors used to sort plastic in recycling plants, so it often gets discarded as waste.

Cleaning product bottles

The bottles are often made of a combination of plastics, and if it’s a spray bottle, there will be a metal spring in the dispensing mechanism which makes them harder to recycle.

Dental products

Toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes usually aren’t accepted for recycling and end up in the bin, thought brands like Colgate are taking the lead in introducing initiatives to recycle more dental products.


It might be handy for wrapping your sandwiches but it’s definitely not good for the environment. It’s impossible to recycle and can’t be reused.

Bubble wrap

Once you pop it, you can’t stop, and you usually can’t recycle it either. The good news is that it can be easily reused to wrap valuables you’re sending in the post or to protect things you have in storage.

Nappies and other sanitary products

There are some brave companies trying to innovate in this area, but generally, these products are a biohazard and can’t be recycled.

The netting that wraps your fruit

Those little nets that house your oranges and satsumas so well are unrecyclable and if they are discarded, they can pose a hazard for wildlife who might get trapped in them.

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