How to organise your recycling

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Reduce, reuse, recycle: a wise policy for anyone that cares about the environment. But, it's not always easy sorting your rubbish into manageable stacks for recycling. It takes a little planning, the right storage space and some strong boxes. Some items are also easier to recycle than others.


But, once you're committed to organising your rubbish, it doesn't take long to get a smooth system in place.

Get organised

Knowledge is your friend when it comes to organising your recycling. You need to find out if your local council picks up from the kerbside, when your collection day is, and whether they provide boxes and bags for storage. Your council website should have all of this information. You'll also need to find your nearest recycling depot for large and unusual items. Once you know all of this, you're ready to recycle!

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Box clever

A garage, utility room or spare corner of the kitchen makes organising recycling a lot easier. Large, well-labelled boxes then help sort recycling into different types. Wooden boxes may look a little nicer, but plastic boxes are easier to wipe clean when they inevitably get sticky. Better Home and Garden magazine also suggests laying down carpet tiles in your recycling area. That way, if something nasty spills on the floor you can simply remove a tile and replace. Otherwise, a lino floor is easier to mop clean.

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A lot of bottle

The clink-clinking of glass bottles down the driveway is one of the sounds of recycling day. Unlike some other items, glass bottles can't be squashed into a more manageable shape. Instead, simply rinse and store in your glass box. Glass recycling plants steam clean bottles, so you don't need to worry about removing labels. Take great care when handling bottles. Wrap broken bottles in newspaper and discard. In some areas you'll also need to sort the bottles into green, clear and brown glass.

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Cardboard city

Cardboard and newspaper are two of the most commonly recycled items in the UK. You can usually store both in the same box. It helps to organise your cardboard recycling by squashing boxes and packages down as small as they will go for easy storage. Recyclenow suggests using the largest cardboard box to store the rest of your cardboard recycling. Then you can just hand the whole lot over to recycling collectors.

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Plastic fantastic

Plastic accounts for 3 millions tonnes of UK waste each year, according to the Cambridge-MIT Institute. Much of that includes 9.2 billion plastic bottles. If you have any bottles, give them a rinse and remove the cap before putting them in a recycling box. Some local authorities accept bottle caps if placed in a separate bag. Always check food packaging labels for recycling information. Some plastic packaging cannot be recycled.

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Can it

Most food and drink cans produced in the UK are made with aluminium and are therefore recyclable. Once emptied, rinse all of the food from inside the can. Wear strong gloves and be very careful of any sharp or serrated metal edges. Stamp the cans down with your foot to make them small enough to store. For ultra-organised recycling, invest in a food can squasher. This kitchen gadget crushes cans into little flat slivers of metal.

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Bits and bobs

Most weekly recycling covers bottles, plastic, metal cans, cardboard and paper. However, you can also organise your recycling to include more obscure items. For example, Recycle For Scotland suggests that some local authorities accept batteries, kitchen foil and plastic bags. Your local recycling depot might take broken electrical items, furniture, clothing and old shoes. Some websites even recycle mobile phones, spectacles, printer cartridges or old computers -- and might even pay you for the privilege.

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