Get on board with recycling

It seems that the European Environment Agency is worried that a lot of countries will fail to meet the current target of recycling 50% of waste by 2020. The UK, however, shows the fastest rate of recycling rate increase in the whole of Europe.

Huge leap in the UK since 2001

We started with a very low rate of recycling back in 2001, with just 12% of all the waste generated by everyday people being recycled. Just nine years later we got up to 39%, which was equivalent to most of the rest of Europe.

And although some countries already beat the 50% target (including Germany and Austria) many look like they won’t make it, particularly countries like Greece and Romania.

The future of the UK’s recycling

No matter how much our rate has increased so far, the fact remains that the UK, as well as many other countries are clogging up landfill and wasting massive amounts of resources.

If we continue on our current trajectory, we should reach 50% by 2017, however, there is a very real possibility of this slowing down as complacency steps in. Household recycling is now at around 43%, and more than half of business waste is recycled, but this needs to get better.

What can you do?

If you don’t already take advantage of your local authority’s recycling schemes, make sure you do. Have a look at your local council’s website and you will easily find the waste management system for your area. There will be some form of recycling collection, along with garden waste depending on your area.

Take advantage of these systems - it’s so easy to do. Make sure you take note of what you can and can’t recycle in the kerbside collections and comply with the restrictions.

 If you have waste that can’t be recycled then you need to head to your local waste management centre. This can be difficult if you don’t have transport but is always worth arranging with a friend, if possible.

At work, if you don’t already have a system, implement a recycling system for paper and rubbish - remember, if no one else is taking the initiative, make sure you do! If you need help to do it, call the local authority who will be able to advise as to what’s available for businesses in your area.

Furniture, electricals and white goods

Everything from fridges to sofas can be disposed of ethically these days. You just have to know where to look. Check online for local services and you can often find people willing to pick up your large items for reselling purposes. House clearance businesses could be a good idea here.

If you need to get rid of your mattress, for example, make sure you don’t just tip it. Millions of mattresses are making it into landfill and it’s not necessary. Take steps before you turn to this as a last resort.

For example, you could recycle your old bed at Bedstar or, if it’s in decent condition, ask around family and friends to see whether anyone could make use of it. Using sites like Facebook and Gumtree can be a great way for your old furniture to get a new home.

Alternatively, check with charities to see whether there is a scheme to donate the mattress to those less fortunate, perhaps for a homeless shelter or a women’s refuge. The bed frame could be resold if you need to get rid of the entire bed, or you could just look at keeping it and replacing solely the mattress.

Always check with your local authority for advice and help - there are people out there dedicated to recycling and they’re there to help you.


Pete White Pete White

Love Shrewsbury editor and chief developer at The Web Orchard, find out more on

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