The truth about recycling
The recycling sceptic; we all know one. They are the people that tell you that all our waste goes to landfill regardless and there is no point in separating our paper and using our organic bin. So we thought we’d put these naysayers to bed with some good old fashioned facts.
Myth 1: “I don’t recycle – It all biodegrades in landfill anyway”
Some people seem to think that given enough time everything will eventually decompose. Not in landfill they won’t. In landfill even the most compostable materials have a hard time breaking down, as the conditions for composting simply aren’t there. Organic materials biodegrade naturally when micro-organisms digest the materials. The conditions for this to happen at a reasonable rate would require the materials to have access to air and sunlight, which as you can imagine are not in high-supply under the layers of rubbish in landfill.
When it comes to say plastics or aluminum for example, biodegrading will never happen, as these materials are indigestible to enzymes and microbes in any conditions, never mind in landfill. So, ye, myth busted!
Myth 2: “You can put food into landfill, it causes no harm”
While food waste and other compostable materials will indeed (very slowly) biodegrade in landfill, this will in fact cause harm to our environment. The anaerobic conditions of the landfill slow down the natural decomposition process and all-the-while increase the proportion of methane and other greenhouse gases produced. Not to mention the fact that nothing useful will ever come of these materials. Recycled food waste can potentially be used as fuel or as compost to grow plants and more food, completing the food loop. So, is there no harm in putting food into landfill? There definitely is. Recycle those food scraps.
Myth 3: “You’re supposed to take the labels off jars and tins”
During the recycling process they will be burnt off in the high temperatures involved. There really is no need to remove them. This is particularly true with glass stickers, as they won’t be recycled separately anyway. While it would be useful and a good idea to take the paper wrapper off tins where possible, so as to be recycled separately, however it really isn’t a requirement.
Myth 4: “You should clean all your glass before bringing them to the bottle bank”
Glass is collected separate to dry recyclables, so while you shouldn’t have leaking materials in your dry recycling bin, its fine for a glass only bottle bank. Any of the glop or juice left in a glass jar or bottle will evaporate or burn during the recycling process. If you want to be environmentally friendly, don’t waste precious water cleaning your glass materials before sending them to be recycled.
Myth 5: “We export all Our recyclables, should we not recycle these items in Ireland?”
It is true that we export about 75% of our recyclables.
75% of Ireland’s recycling material is exported because we do not have primary manufacturing industries such as steel mills and paper pulp factories to turn these recycled materials into new products. We do have some small Irish recyclers and many primary processors who add value to recycled materials before export or transfer to the final material recyclers. Ireland also has a thriving glass recycling business. Much of the glass collected is recycled in Ireland by companies such as Rehab Recycle, Quinn Glass and Glassco Recycling.
The UK and mainland Europe are the main destination for recycled materials exported from Ireland. Asia and China account for less than 15% of direct recycling exports.
In Ireland, large producers of packaging or packaged products are obligated to help fund the recycling and recovery of the packaging they supply. Many companies do this by paying packaging levies to Repak. Repak then uses these funds to support packaging recycling collections such as household ‘green’ bins, recycling centre collections and bring bank collections. Repak has more than 2,300 participating Irish member companies.
*Above information from Recyclemore.ie
Myth 6: “Aerosol cans can’t be recycled.”
This statement is not true. You can indeed recycle aerosol cans. Put them in to your recycling bin, but only once they’re used up and the lid is removed. Never pierce the can in anyway.
We hope we’ve enlightened you with some of the facts here. Have you got any more interesting facts about recycling or have you heard any other myths that you’d like us to help clarify? Don’t be shy, get involved with our facebook community.