Adopting a recycling mind-set for those household items you want to dispose of responsibly is a great start. First-time subscribers to this practice should know that it does not always prove that straightforward. For example, the Big Mac brand admitted recently that its new so-called “eco-friendly” paper straws do not meet the recycling rules. The organization went on to confirm it was “working to find a sustainable solution”.
This announcement led us to conduct further research in terms of the discards we choose to recycle. It serves as a wakeup call in some instances, raising more questions than answers. This article looks at authoritative responses from the recipients of your discards.
There’s Good and Bad in Your Recycling Efforts
Some of the surprising items that you might think are recycle-friendly are anything but, so you need to understand what your local council is allergic to in your recycling offerings. Time to drill down the no-go list:
Everybody’s favourite: ‘sticky notes’ – Sure, they are great as memory joggers, but these tiny sticky tabs are not user friendly in recycling terms. This is because the glue strip on the back of the stick note proves difficult to remove during recycling. This means many depots refuse to accept potentially non-recyclable discards.
Recycling contamination expert, Chris Mills representing the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), comments, “Every paper mill that accepts a range of card and paper, has a tolerance level so they can recycle a small quantity of sticky notes that might sneak in.
“Generally, we are discouraged from recycling them because when this material gets in the pulping machine and it starts to separate out; the glue can appear in the final product, like streaks on a newspaper.”
McDonald’s paper straws are also unsuitable for recycling – Please see the opening paragraph.
Squeezable Toothpaste, Medicinal Single-Use Tubes and More
The list covers toothpaste, sun blockers and many other squeezable tubes. These are recycle nightmares because the tubes are made of different plastic/metal amalgam materials.
For example, toothpaste tubes often contain a thin layer of aluminium combined with various plastic mixes. This proves challenging for recycling plants in terms of separation and reprocessing.
However, good news appears on the horizon! Recycling specialists, Terracycle, have teamed with Colgate UK with a view to solving the problem toothpaste tubes. The plan is to create new products from moulds using recycled items. The result could turn up as benches in public parks following the recycling of items such as:
# Toothpaste tubes and even plastic toothbrushes
# Presentation toothbrush packaging for supermarket goods, including battery and electric heads
Interested parties can participate at over two thousand recycle locations around the UK once the scheme is up and running.
The Pringle Tube Nightmare
Pringles tubes form a serious challenge when they reach the recycle station. Each tube comprises no less than five separate materials that include a peel-off seal to ensure freshness, a plastic disc to keep the air out after opening, and a metal base for display shelf stability at the retail outlet. Adding to the recycling dilemma is the silver foil lining inside and the outer cardboard sleeve.
Parent company Kellogg, have teamed with TerraCycle, and two say they are working together to set up public recycling collection points across the country.
Finally, cotton wool and make-up removal pads are both no-goes when it comes to recycling. However, in some cases you can compost them as part of your kitchen waste. Note though that only 100% cotton can see its way to your compost bin, and only if it survives the make-up removal/disinfectant routine.