10 Interesting Recycling Facts

Oct 12, 2021

10 Interesting Facts about Recycling

Here at Moray Reach Out we actively support recycling and sustainable living. We believe that everyone has a part to play in creating an eco-friendlier world. We have a team in both Elgin and Buckie, Moray, dealing with waste management and recycling. Below, there are 10 facts which may shock and interest you.

  1. Only 3 out of 7 different types of plastic are commonly recycled.

Although all plastics could essentially be recycled/upcycled in one form or another, in the UK there are only 3 types that are widely accepted in recycling centres.

Type 1 – Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) Ex. Plastic Bottles, Mouthwash Bottles

Type 2 – High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Ex. Milk containers, Shampoo Bottles

Type 3 – Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Ex. Clingfilm, Hoses, plastic plumbing pipes

Type 4 – Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) Ex. Carrier Bags, Bread Bags

Type 5 – Polypropylene (PP) Ex. Take Away Tubs, Plastic Straws

Type 6 – Polystyrene (PE) Ex. CD cases, Packing Peanuts

Type 7 – Other Ex. ABS

Only Type 1, Type 2 and most recently Type 5 plastics are widely recycled in the UK. This is why it is so important that you check your packaging before throwing it into the rubbish or recycling bin.

  1. Aluminium cans are back on the shelfs within 60 days of being recycled.

Not only is this swift and efficient but aluminium can be recycled endlessly without ever losing its properties or quality. So, how many times do you think your latest can has been used beforehand?

  1. 100 plastic bags can make 1 reusable tote canvas bag.

Using plastic waste to create reusable bags is not a new practice. It has in fact become widely popular throughout the UK with big brand names following this trend. 100 bags may initially seem like a lot, but when you think about how many bags you use for your weekly shop it seems far less. In 2015, the government introduced the 10p minimum bag charge for all retailers. In England, this caused the purchases of single life bags to drop a massive 95% in major supermarkets. So, by purchasing a reusable, upcycled bag you are not only helping keep waste out of landfills but are also making your own contribution to becoming an eco-friendlier society.

  1. Plastic can be recycled into building-blocks for construction.

A design centre in South Africa is close to perfecting a formula which mixes granulated plastics, cement and sand to create a strong, durable and waterproof building block called EcoArena. Once this has been achieved, it will open up a much larger scope of how we dispose of our plastic waste.

  1. British households create 26m tonnes of waste a year, equivalent to 260 large cruise ships

This was discovered by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in a study completed in 2019. As a nation we recycle on average 45% of all household waste and the government wishes to increases this to 50% in the near future.

  1. Recycling one aluminium can saves enough energy to power your TV for three hours.

If this was the only way we received electricity, household recycling would increase dramatically. Although I have a pretty green household at present, I know that I would be especially conscious of everything I threw away/recycled. So, keep this is mind the next time you are going to put an empty can in the rubbish bin.

  1. Recycling only one tonne of aluminium saves up to 9 tonnes of C02 emissions.

C02 is a greenhouse gas which is speeding up the process of Global Warming. To put it simply, C02 absorbs heat and then radiates that heat back out. The increase of these emissions has massively contributed to Earths rising temperature.

  1. Plastic bottles are now being used to create roads.

India began looking into using plastic-tar roads in the early 2000s. They found that mixing in melted plastic made the roads more durable and less likely to get potholes. Since then, many countries have jumped on board as it is not only eco-friendly but a very simple process which does not require any high-tech equipment. Thus, reducing the amount of waste countries are sending to landfills and incinerators. Within the UK, Scotland was the first to have made a road from the plastic-tar mix in 2019.

  1. Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times

To put that into perspective, the Earths circumference is 40,075km which is over 38,166 football pitches.

  1. More than 15% of the money we spend on products pays for packaging – most of which ends up in the rubbish.

Unfortunately, the majority of food packaging is non-recyclable material, so not only are you paying extra for something you will throw away but you are also damaging the earth. Reusable fruit and vegetable bags are now easily available to buy in store or online, a small price to pay when you think about the overall money that you are saving by not purchasing pre-packed fruit and veg.


If you wish to do a little more reading up on these facts, you can find some links below:

Fact 1. https://www.maxpack.co.uk/2019/12/13/what-plastic-can-you-recycle-resin-identification-codes-explained/

Fact 3. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/carrier-bag-charges-retailers-responsibilities

Fact 4. https://www.averda.com/rsa/news/south-africa-can-turn-plastic-waste-into-building-blocks

Fact 5. https://www.greenmatters.com/p/what-percent-recycling-actually-gets-recycled


Fact 8. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-48332259