What Can Be Recycled?: How Packaging Can Make Recycling Tricky
What Can Be Recycled?: at Waster we promote recycling for a number of reasons – it is good for the environment, and it can usually save customers significant amounts of money (this is due to the valuable commodities such as cardboard, plastic and metal being recycled and sold on to end users – that certainly is much better than being disposed of in landfill!). It is really easy to recycle cardboard (cardboard bins) and bottles and cans – in recycling bins. It gets harder when packaging is made out of many different types of disparate materials. The difficulty here can be caused by the problem of how can we separate the different materials in a cost efficient way (and conservce energy and hence minimise pollution.
Waster offers low cost waste bins and recycling services to small and medium Aussie businesses. We provide a full suite of recycling and general waste bins to suit your needs – all on flexible 30 day terms, so you do not need to sign a multi-year, lock in contract again.
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What can be recycled? – we need to design better packaging to make it easier
One of the biggest issues hindering recycling is poorly thought through packaging – that is made from multiple items. We recently covered how Unilever is moving towards recycling packaging (see what is waste management). We also recently read about an interesting prize in the UK to promote environmental packaging concepts (The Plastics Economy Innovation Prize, promoted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation).
Quoting from the BBC article:
“The Recycling Association named them in a list of products that pose the biggest challenges for reuse.The greater the number of materials used in packaging, the harder it is for recycling machines to separate them.”
“The distinctive Pringles packaging – with its metal base, plastic cap, metal tear-off lid, and foil-lined cardboard sleeve – was said to be a “nightmare”.”
“A $2m (£1.5m) prize for inventors to devise products that are practical and easily recycled will be launched by Prince Charles in London later.”
The two worst packaging types for recycling were judged to be:
- “Pringles (and products with similar packaging): “Number One recycling villain. These things are a… nightmare. Impossible to separate the parts.”
- “Lucozade Sport (and drinks with similar packaging): “Number Two villain. This bottle is so confusing to computer scanners that it has to be picked by hand off the recycling conveyor. Then it often just gets chucked away.”
A simple listing of what can be recycled includes:
- Paper: cardboard boxes, newspapers, magazines, envelopes, junk mail, food and drink cartons including Tetra Pak
- Plastic: margarine and ice cream tubs, yogurt pots, fruit punnets and ready meal trays
- Bottles: drink, shampoo and detergent bottles
- Tins and cans: both steel and aluminium, as well as aerosols
- Kitchen foil and foil trays
- Glass: all colours but no broken glass or ovenware
- Tissue and kitchen roll
- Plastic wrap, cling film, bubble wrap and plastic bags
- Coffee cups
- Plastic and paper contaminated with food – including grease-stained pizza boxes (some councils may take clean pizza boxes) and paper food plates
- Crisp packets and sweet wrappers
- Soft plastic / metallic packaging like pet food pouches
We look forward to learning more about this prize and seeing what solutions it comes up with.
See our recent blog on Gold Coast Rubbish Removal. Also – check out our blog on whether dumping at Sydney landfills is worse than composting. Our blog on rubbish bins covers new programs to boost organic waste recycling.
If you are interested in helping the environment – see environmental services careers.