According to figures from Defra for 2003/04*, households in the UK produced a massive 30.5 million tonnes of waste in that time period. Yet only 17% of it was collected for recycling. We are lagging behind other European countries, some of which manage to recycle over 50% of their unwanted refuse.


Recycling not only keeps reusable things from ending up in landfill, but it also conserves a lot of energy. It cuts down on energy requirements for new production projects, as well as minimising the running costs and fuel needed to operate rubbish disposal machinery.

Here are some more facts and figures to consider. It all starts with a single item…

Energy savings

One single recycled tin can would save enough energy to run a TV for three hours, while the amount for a glass bottle would power a computer for 25 minutes. One recycled plastic bottle would power a 60-watt light bulb for three whole hours. Then there is recycled paper, which costs 70% less energy to make than paper made from raw materials.

Missed opportunities

The amount of rubbish we just throw away in the UK could fill the largest lake in Britain in just eight months. Yet up to 60% of that rubbish could be recycled. Packaging is a huge problem too, costing on average 16% of the overall price paid for the product. Yet it is often made from hard-to-recycle, or even non-recyclable materials. Up to 80% of a scrapped vehicle can be recycled, and nine out of ten people admit that they would recycle more if it was easier to do so.

How to recycle

Obvious materials to recycle include paper, cardboard, tins, plastic bottles and glass. These can usually be easily handled by local councils, through kerbside collections etc. and taken away to be turned back into useful products, thus saving energy and production costs. Recycling vegetable peelings, tea bags and other uncooked food returns energy back to the soil in the form of composting.

Yet other, trickier items, such as batteries, electrical equipment and building supplies can also be reconditioned to save energy, if sorted in the right way. Check your local council’s webpages to see how they recommend getting rid of these kinds of items.

Recycle, recycle, recycle

Companies that make new products from recycled materials use 30% less energy. They also don’t have to use up precious resources such as wood, oil or metal ore. When de-cluttering or clearing out a property therefore, think about what can be recycled. A junk clearance expert will be happy to help advise you on what to set aside, and how to recycle it properly. Many will take the job on for you too, making sure they follow correct legislation and best practice advice. Saving energy while getting rid of unwanted junk really can offer the best of both worlds.

Source: *