Recycling! Does it really make a difference?
At some point we’ve probably all asked that question and wondered what happens to our recycling. You can find out in the ‘What happens to my recycling?’ section below, but let’s first take a look at some (not so rubbish) facts:
Every year in Neath Port Talbot we generate around 71 million kilogrammes of rubbish. That’s the same as about 60,000 of these
Currently, thanks to NPT residents around 60% of this rubbish is sorted for recycling. However, the other 40% is dumped in our bins or black bags. Because we know from our waste analysis that more than half of this could actually still be recycled, we will make some changes to our collections.
‘What is changing and why?’ explains what they are and the ‘Why should I recycle my food waste’ section has some incredible facts and figures demonstrating that when it comes to recycling – Yes, it will make a difference, and Yes, we could all do more.
What is changing and Why?
Presentation Areas at Recycling Centres
We will soon introduce ‘presentation areas’ at the Household Waste and Recycling Centres. When you arrive at the site with black bags or general waste we will ask you to remove any recyclable items first.
Waste taken to these centres should have been separated before arrival. Over 60% of the waste taken to the centres contains materials that can actually be recycled. Experience of presentation areas in neighbouring counties shows they dramatically increase recycling rates, so the best thing to do is to sort it before you bring it.
Next year we will be changing the way we collect garden waste from single use plastic bags to reusable sacks.
We will be introducing the new reusable sacks between January and April. This will prevent possible contamination with shredded plastic pieces generated when flimsy single use plastic sacks are torn. With the potential of tax on single-use plastic bags, we want to avoid using them wherever we can. You can start using your new sacks straight away. Households will receive two free sacks and you can buy additional ones from the council online.
No side waste rule
From April 2019 we will implement and enforce a so called ‘no side waste’ rule. This means that the amount of refuse we collect will be limited to one wheeled bin or up to 3 black bags in bag collection areas.
A Welsh Government analysis of black bag contents shows more than half could be recycled but is being thrown out as waste. The restriction on side waste will help get this recyclable material out of wheeled bins and black bags and into your weekly recycling collections instead.
Why should I recycle food waste?
Because food waste is by far the biggest type of waste dumped in our bins and black bags – an unbelievable 7,000 tonnes
- That’s 7,000 tonnes of food waste rotting in our bins for two weeks, instead of being collected for recycling every week
- And that’s 7,000 tonnes of food waste that could be used to produce energy, maybe enough to turn on the lights in your local school
- Food waste is also really, really bad for the environment. When it is sent to landfill, instead of being recycled, it rots into methane which goes straight into the atmosphere contributing to climate change. Methane is 25 times more damaging as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
- Food waste contributes to leachate, the concentrated, polluting black liquid which can run from landfill sites threatening rivers and other watercourses which can, and often does, kill large numbers of fish and other water based creatures.
So, recycling our food waste makes a lot of sense
What happens to my recycling?
Food waste to energy
The food waste you put out for recycling is sent to be treated known as “Anaerobic Digestion”. As it’s broken down, micro-bugs in the waste give off methane gas. The gas is used to generate electricity. Using food waste as energy means we use less fossil fuels to produce the electricity we all need.
Food waste to fertiliser
The material that’s left at the end of the Anaerobic Digestion treatment can be used by farmers to fertilise their fields. This means farmers need less chemical fertilisers, which means less chemicals harming the plants and animals as it washes off the fields into our streams, rivers and seas.
And of course there’s another important difference. As we all know rotting food waste can be a smelly business. If you recycle your food waste we will collect it every week. If you throw your food waste in your bin you will have to wait two weeks between collections.
With plastic waste we are making (horrible) history because it takes hundreds of years to break down. If Henry VIII had thrown a plastic bottle into a landfill site it would still be with us today.
The plastic you put out for recycling can be used to make new plastic goods; keyboards, parts for cars, even park benches, playground equipment and fleece jackets … and of course new plastic bottles.
For every plastic bottle made from recycled plastic we need less oil out of the ground to make a new one.
…and now we get to the easy stuff…
Paper and Card
Paper and card are almost wood pulp anyway. It’s crazy not to recycle this. Put a newspaper out for recycling today and it can be back on the newsagents’ shelves in as little as a couple of weeks.
Recycling glass is normal. We’ve been doing it for generations. The milk bottle in school, the pop bottle taken back to the shop; only now it’s even easier, we come to your home to collect your glass.
But again the more we recycle glass the less we need to dig up the virgin materials needed to make new glass, the fewer giant sand pits will scar the surface of our beautiful planet.
Recycling metal has been part of metal production since the Bronze Age. And the bronze age folk certainly didn’t have a weekly kerbside collection… they didn’t even have kerbsides.
The mines necessary to get the metal ore out of the ground have damaged many habitats around the world.
Cans and tins are sent for reprocessing. The recycled metals are used to make things like lightweight components for the car industry, white goods like fridges and of course… more cans. Cans can be recycled into new ones again and again and
…and as they say ‘one person’s trash is another person’s treasure’
You can donate your unwanted items at our Re-use shop located at Briton Ferry recycling centre. The shop is full of unwanted treasures waiting for a new home and is a great place to pick up a bargain.
Or think about “up-cycling”. Have a look at what the clever people at Bspoked have made from “the things that the everyday folks leave behind…