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8 Recycling Tips You Need to Know

Life Before Plastic - Top Recycling Tips

Recycling isn't always as straight forward as we think it is.

A lot of us are wishful recyclers. We pop something into the correct bin in the hope that people at the other end will sort it out.

This actually does more harm than good and often results in the whole bin being considered 'contaminated'. The whole bin load ends up going to landfill. 

Pretty awful, right?

There are so many recycling nuances that vary from council to council, so it's hard to keep up if you haven't been informed. 

The positive news is that so many eco-friendly products are now being packaged in recyclable packaging. All you need to do is recycle it in the right way.

With that in mind, we've put together a bunch of useful recycling tips that can be used in every household.

1. It can't be recycled if it's covered in food.

All items that you put into your recycling must be cleaned, otherwise it'll likely be rejected during the recycling process.

'Clean' means that it's clean enough to be used again.

Imagine you have a used can of beans and you want to use that can again for storing something else. That's how clean it needs to be.

For things like pizza boxes that are covered in grease, try ripping it in half and recycling the part that's clean.

2. Don't put recycling into a plastic bag and then into your bin.

This is fairly obvious, but it's always good to remember.

There are no recycling fairies emptying your bin at the other end and sorting through it all for you. If you pop it into a plastic bag first, it'll likely go straight to landfill.

If you can find another use for the recycling, make recycling your last option. For example, we reuse all our packaging when sending out parcels to try to be as zero waste as possible.

Life Before Plastic - Top Tips for Recycling

3. IKEA actively collects fluorescent light bulbs for recycling.

You can drop your light bulbs off at any IKEA. Head to the customer service department and they'll do the rest!

4. Your local supermarket may be a recycling haven.

Many large supermarkets collect plastic bags and food bags, such as bread bags and Quorn packaging, and loose batteries.

They also have clothes banks, collect tetrapak cartons, small electrical items & books. 

Visit your nearest supermarket for further details or check their website.    

5. Wrapping paper can't be recycled.

It might look pretty, but anything that's shiny or glittery cannot be recycled, so it's nor worth putting in your paper bin. Choose kraft or brown paper instead and decorate it yourself.

When I was a kid, I used to carve a pattern into half a potato, dip it into watercolour paint to create a stamp and use it to decorate my own wrapping paper. 

I'm not saying that's the greatest idea, but you get the gist.

Remember to use paper tape when wrapping parcels. Unlike plastic cellotape, you don't need to remove the tape from the box or paper, the whole thing can go straight to the recycling centre. 

6. Anything smaller than a credit card is too small for recycling machines to recognise.

If you put aluminium foil into your recycling bin, make sure you collect enough of it so it's bigger than the size of a tennis ball. This will ensure it's recycled. 

Can rings, for example, should be put inside the can and then squashed so it can't fall out. 

It's worth thinking about the type of foil you are using. Switch virgin foil out for recycled aluminium foil to extend the life of the material. Or even better yet, use a reusable baking liner that can be washed and reused over and over. 

7. Biodegradable or compostable plastic only really works if you have a home compost to put it in.

Recycling centres can't tell the difference between biodegradable or compostable plastic and 'regular' plastic. If it's spotted in your garden waste bin, the whole load will be deemed contaminated and end up in landfill. 

8. Don't put food into general waste - it can't break down in landfill.

Landfill sites are packed so tight that no air gets to anything.

In order for food to biodegrade, it needs air.

20 year old meat steaks have been found on landfill with meat still on the bones. 10 year old carrots have been found that are brown on the outside, but orange on the inside. 

Use real compostable bags supplied by your council and put them in the food waste.


Recycling can be a complicated task, especially if your council doesn't provide enough information. It can be difficult to know if you're buying an eco-friendly product that will be recycled in your region. People don't always have the time to seek out every detail, so being aware of the resources around you will help no end. 

We really recommend sharing information with your local community. You'll be surprised what people will learn.

Have you got anymore tips that you want to share? Add them to the comments below and let's help to share the knowledge. 


  • “Recycling tips you need to know” are invaluable in our collective effort to protect the environment. They help us minimize waste, conserve resources, and reduce our carbon footprint. Embracing recycling practices, such as proper sorting, cleaning items before recycling, and being aware of local recycling guidelines, can make a significant impact. However, innovation also plays a crucial role in the recycling landscape. Initiatives like diaper recycling (learn more at demonstrate how technological advancements are constantly reshaping diaper recycling processes, offering more sustainable and efficient ways to manage waste. By staying informed and actively participating in recycling efforts, we can all contribute to a cleaner and greener planet for future generations.

  • Check the recycling info on plastic packaging, such as for frozen veg, cat litter, and much more. Many of these items can be “recycled with carrier bags at larger supermarkets”.

    Plastic can only be recycled 1-2 times before the molecules break down irretrievably. Therefore, not buying a plastic-wrapped item is 100 times better than recycling the wrapper.

    Annette Marti

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