10 myths about recycling busted

We’re betting more than a few of you have been put off recycling by something you might have heard – and a lot of the time, these things are just myths. So we’ve called on the refuse team to set the recycling record straight and tackle a number of myths that you might of stumbled across.

Let’s get started with one of the most common recycling myths…

1 Recycling all ends up in landfill sites anyway

At Barking and Dagenham Council, we are committed to making sure as many recyclable items are recycled as possible for a number of reasons, not least because it’s a great way to save money and care for the environment.

If items have ended up in a brown bin that shouldn’t be in there, such as food, the bin is considered to be ‘contaminated’. When this happens, these bins are sometimes collected altogether in one vehicle so we don’t risk contaminating anybody else’s recycling.

What happens to the contaminated bins? We recycle what we can later at the Biological Material Recovery Facility.

2 Recycling all gets shipped abroad

As part of East London Waste Authority (ELWA), Barking and Dagenham Council tries to ensure that as much material is processed in the UK as possible, however some things do go abroad to be recycled depending on where demand for them is.

For example, plastic is sometimes shipped to China and other countries in containers which would have otherwise returned empty after delivering new electrical items or other goods to the UK. This plastic can then be used to make new products that China manufactures for the UK.

Barking and Dagenham council make these details about end destinations of recycling public through waste data flow managed by DEFRA.

3 Items needs to be thoroughly washed before they’re recycled

Packaging doesn’t need to be cleaned but does need to be empty. If possible, give items a quick rinse – you could use leftover washing up water for this to save water.

4 There’s no point in recycling – it’s all biodegradable

It takes so long for plastic, aluminium and steel to decompose that they can’t be considered biodegradable. For example, plastic bottles can take 450 years or more to decompose, while aluminium cans take several hundred years. So recycling is best.

5 Plastic bags can go in the recycling bin

Unfortunately not. The facilities that sort recycling aren’t set up for plastic bags – in fact, soft plastics can clog up the machinery and contaminate the material.

The good news is that big supermarket across Barking and Dagenham have collection points for shopping bags.

6 Tetra Pak® packaging can be recycled

These are recyclable but unfortunately not in LBBD’s kerbside collection however, there are a few bring banks for Tetra Pak recycling: one at Frizland Lane Reuse and Recycling Centre, another at Whiting Avenue and one on the corner of Faircross Parade and Upney Lane.

7 Garden waste isn’t a recycling issue – it biodegrades in landfill

While it’s true that garden waste breaks down in landfill, unfortunately it only does so in environments where there is no air. This means that methane is produced as it breaks down, even years after the landfill closes. The best way to dispose of garden waste is through a collection service, the Frizlands Lane RRC or composting in the garden.

8 You have to sort all your recycling for it to be of any use

In LBBD we have commingled recycling collection – that is, all your stuff goes into one single brown bin, so you needn’t sort anything at all. Just make sure you only include items listed on the bin sticker or check our recycling guide for details.

9 It’s pointless composting food waste since it breaks down naturally

False! A single apple core left under a tree in a forest is fine, but 7.2 million tonnes of food waste squashed into dwindling landfill sites is most certainly not (that’s how much the UK produces every year).

Food waste needs oxygen to biodegrade naturally, but it’s starved of this when it’s packed into landfill, so instead produces highly potent greenhouse gas methane. Check LBBD website for more information about composting and how to get your compost bin.

10 Recycling costs more money than sending rubbish to landfill

False! While the process of recycling an item is more expensive than simply chucking it in landfill, it actually works out a lot cheaper to give it a new lease of life.

When recycling was first introduced this may have been the case but now this proves to be less true. The cost of landfill increases year on year as taxes on it are raised whilst the ability to recycle hundreds of thousands of tonnes has become substantially cheaper. In almost every instance a tonne of waste recycled is much cheaper than a tonne of waste landfilled.