What is Recycle Week?

We take a look at the history, the need and the European comparisons for Recycle Week...

Whats on this page?

Recycle Week 2015 runs from June 22-28, and the theme this year is ‘Recycling around the home’. We’ve put together a bit more information for you…

Read our article detailing a few of the businesses getting vocal about #RecycleWeek! History This is the 12th year Recycle Week is taking place, after its continued success and importance for awareness. As we work towards a circular economy, it’s important to encourage recycling from the bottom up. In the 12 years that Recycle Week has been active, household recycling rates have risen from an estimated 17% to 44%. Experts suggest that the peak recycling rate lies at between 60% and 70% and you could count on one hand how many councils have achieved this.
Are you recycling properly?
It’s very likely that the main reason you aren’t recycling properly is that you weren’t aware some things could be recycled. A lot of these items come from the bathroom, such as shampoo bottles and toothpaste boxes. Often we forget about these sorts of items and focus our recycling efforts on food waste packaging.
Why does it need a dedicated week?
Well, why not? There’s an International Onion Rings Day in June and a Compliment Your Mirror Day in July, so why not a Recycle Week? It has always been massively important to make sure that we recycle efficiently, but it hasn’t been a particular priority, or of much interest to many people. Thanks to education and perseverance, the movement has gained momentum and now we are recycling without even thinking about it. This dedicated week is all about awareness and reaching as many people as possible. When the news reports about oil and energy, not enough people realise recycling has a huge part to play in that, as it reduces oil consumption and saves energy!

recycle week

How does the UK compare to the rest of the world?
Well, in comparison to our European neighbours, we produce about 10% more waste per head, but are among some of the best recyclers in Europe. Eastern Europe is particularly bad at recycling, whilst Scandinavia and Central Europe (Germany, Austria & Switzerland) are exceptionally good.
In Sweden, the recycling system is tough, and separation is heavily scrutinized. The added work of recycling can take several hours per week for their inhabitants and this is a driving force behind their successful waste reduction. Anything that cannot be biodegraded must be taken to a sorting centre, which is a very precise system run by a monopoly recycling service. It is known that Sweden has reduced waste so much that they now import it from their neighbours for incineration! The same can’t really be said for the UK. We have it pretty easy, with co-mingled boxes and a paper box that can take magazines, newspaper and cardboard. Then we just put it out on the street; which is considerably simpler than having to take it to a recycling centre!
What about Switzerland? Well, they have a similar service to ours, with the exception that they have made it very expensive to throw things in the bin. The waste collectors are only allowed to collect one type of rubbish bag, which cost around £3.25 each. Ouch! This means that people are incredibly careful about what goes in them and will recycle everything they can.
In the USA, recycling is popular in some places, and hugely unpopular in others. It’s still a blossoming industry over there, and really it had a minimal existence 25 years ago. Some states recycling less than 10% of their waste, while some manage over 40%, this is a significant disparity. The USA has a bigger market for materials, but the huge amount of land makes recycling very transport intensive and often it is deemed ‘unnecessary’. Climate change denial is many times more popular in the USA than anywhere else on Earth and sadly this results in some people making a political refusal to recycle. Arizona recently banned the making of future laws that encourage recycling or reduce plastic consumption, based on a denial of climate change.
In Greece, despite the collapse of many industries and a total economic crisis, recycling is improving. Nearly a quarter of all their waste is plastic, and ten years ago only 1% of that was being recycled. In the decade since, facilities have been built and coverage for recycling now reaches 100% of the population. It can’t be easy with so many islands, but they are somehow managing. It’s hard to track the exact recycling figure, but it’s believed to be just over 25%! Part of encouraging recycling came through increasing the price of landfills, which is a tactic applied by many countries in Europe, but for a national in economic struggle, it has had more of an immediate effect. The next target for Greece is to reduce the amount of compostable waste going to landfill and utilize it to make the soil rich.

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