How to Recycle and Reduce Waste

The facilities that you have available for recycling may be very different to that of your neighbours in the county next to where you live. It depends on where you live and on which Local Authority manages your waste and recycling collections as to what is collected, how it is collected and how often. You may not have access to a kerbside collection service and will then have to rely on bring banks and mini recycling centres. Because of these reasons, it is very difficult to offer specific advice about methods of recycling that will be relevant nationally – so the best thing to do is to visit your local council's website or telephone them directly to see what is available to you locally.

Having said that, however, below is a rough guide to some general rules about recycling and reducing waste. Information on what happens next to the items that you recycle have also been included because these are valuable resources. Nothing goes to waste if you recycle.


Separate paper from the other items in your recycling box (if you have one) to make it easier for the recycling collectors.
Most types of paper are accepted: newsprint, magazines, envelopes (including the plastic windows) and junk mail, without plastic wrappers.
With unwanted mail of course the better way is to stop it being delivered in the first place: contact the Mailing Preference Service ( tel: 020 7291 3310) to have your name removed from mailing lists.
Coloured and brown paper were previously excluded because they can leave flecks in the finished product and reduce its brightness. However, processes are improving all the time and a wider range is becoming acceptable in some collections
Every year we need a forest the size of Wales to provide all of the paper we use in Britain
33% of what we throw away is paper and cardboard

What Happens Next?
Paper is sent to Belgium, or to Aylesford Newsprint in Kent, which is one of the largest recycling plants in Europe. All inks, glues, staples, plastic film etc. are washed out with soapy water, a process which is helped by the proportion of magazines in the mix. Magazines contain clays that help to lift inks during washing. Cleaned paper pulp is sent to a paper-making machine where it is injected between two wire meshes to form a damp sheet, before passing through hot drying cylinders. On Aylesford's production line, the paper is now moving at more than 60 mph as it rolls onto jumbo reels, each one about 30 tonnes in weight. This high quality newsprint supplies national and local newspapers throughout the UK and Europe. New papers could be coming back to you, in the newsagents or through your door, within three to four weeks.

Yellow Pages
The dye in these directories makes them unsuitable for normal recycling. Also large numbers are discarded around the same time, as a new edition arrives, and so much material would taint batches of paper pulp.
Most collection services will take Yellow pages through a box collection or from designated local collection points. Contact your local council for more information.

What Happens Next?
Yellow Pages are treated in a different way to other types of paper. Covers and glue are removed, pages are shredded and used in lots of imaginative ways: for animal bedding, Jiffy bags, cardboard and insulation for houses. An innovative scheme in Devon used shreddings beneath road surfaces to reduce noise. Near the Tewkesbury-based Highbed Paper Bedding company, some larger stables send used bedding for composting, so ensuring yet another 'life' and making maximum use of old Yellow Pages.

Cardboard packaging is everywhere. It can take up a lot of room in the average household rubbish. It is made of cellulose fibres, generally from wood pulp, which can be used again if recycled.
The UK produced an estimated 9.3 million tonnes of waste packaging in 2001. Of this 5.1 million tonnes came from households and the remaining 4.2 million tonnes from commercial and industrial sources.
Try to avoid buying items which contain large amounts of packaging. Some companies such as removal firms will supply cardboard boxes which they then take back for reuse.
Cardboard makes excellent compost. Scrunch it up and put it in your compost bin with kitchen and garden waste. It also makes excellent mulch for vegetable beds
However because of its light weight and low quality it holds little monetary value for recycling.
A variety of cardboard recycling collection schemes are in operation around the country. Some local authorities will collect from the doorstep using a box or bag collection service, others will accept a mixture of green waste and cardboard, and some local authorities take cardboard at local Household Waste Recycling Sites (council 'tips' or 'dumps') and others cannot collect them at all.
Cardboard containers need to be flattened as much as possible and empty. If possible, it is also helpful to remove any obvious fastenings, adhesive tape etc.
Contact your local council to find out what service is in operation in your area. Or find your nearest cardboard recycling bank using the online service

What Happens Next?
Cardboard recycling involves soaking in water and agitating to release fibres, turning them back into pulp. Metal and ink contaminants are removed, additional finishing chemicals are added; the pulp is pressed into sheets and dried.
Although the fibres get shorter each time they are pulped, cardboard can be recycled four or five times before fibres degrade and disintegrate.
Second time around cardboard makes more boxes and packaging, but has an interesting range of other uses including stationery, animal bedding – and as a final resting place, coffins!

1,350,000 bottles and jars are recycled each month in Bristol alone
All bottles and jars are accepted, and it helps if they are rinsed, with caps and lids removed.
If using bottle banks please sort bottles into the correct colours because if there is contamination with different colours of glass the quality of the glass is reduced. Blue bottles are classed as green.
Only a few types of glass are not suitable, as they are manufactured differently, e.g. toughened (like Pyrex), window panes, and ornamental (such as vases).
Glass is special because it can be recycled again and again. That means using less energy in furnaces, and fewer raw materials: E.U. law will soon demand that the U.K. recycle 70% of its glass.
Buy refill packs or look for returnable bottles wherever possible.
Reuse glass bottles and jars for storing odds and ends or donate to a local jam maker.

What Happens Next?
The glass is sorted by colour, washed and impurities are removed. It is crushed into cullet (small pieces) and melted, then moulded to make new bottles and jars. Glass can also be used as aggregate in road building: Glasphalt looks just like any other tarmac, but is 30% crushed glass, specially treated so it won't puncture tyres! Glass comes round again in more decorative ways too, for some walkways in Bristol city centre, for example, and graves were traditionally dressed with coloured glass chippings.

Food Tins
Food tins are made of steel, coated by a thin layer of tin.
It is really important that food cans and tins are rinsed before collection: it is only a moment's work but very helpful. Not only are dirty tins unhygienic and unpleasant to deal with, contamination can disrupt the smelting process.
You do not have to remove the labels from the tins as these are fired off during the extremely hot smelting process.

What Happens Next?
A magnet is used to separate the steel from aluminium cans. They are melted down in furnaces, with iron ore and oxygen is added to remove impurities. The impure metal (slag) is separated and may be used in road-building. The pure metal is made into blocks (ingots), rolled into many shapes and sizes and water-cooled. It will be used for more tins, or car parts, fridges and other domestic appliances. On a grander scale, what once was a humble food tin might just become part of a bridge.

Aluminium Cans
Last year an estimated 5 billion aluminium cans were used in the U.K.
The energy it takes to make one new aluminium can is enough to make 20 recycled ones
This is the most valuable of recyclable materials
It takes 4 tonnes of bauxite to make 1 tonne of aluminium; mining and transport both use large amounts of energy
Aluminium is always in demand and it is very important to remove cans, and foil, from our waste bins.
Aluminium cans should be cleaned before recycling, although the labels do not have to be removed as the hot smelting process will destroy these
Cash for cans schemes are run all over the UK where aluminium cans can be exchanged for cash donated to help raise funds for charities and other good causes
Find out more by contacting your local authority or visiting
You could use a can crusher to make storage easier.

What Happens Next?
Cans are sorted, baled and taken for crushing into large blocks, and sometimes shredded for reprocessing. Melting removes all inks and coatings before metal is made into blocks (ingots), which can be huge, 2 x 8 metres and 60cm thick, and weigh as much as 20 tonnes. Each one contains about 1.6 million drinks cans. Ingots are sent to mills where they are rolled into sheets from 0.006mm to 250mm gauge. This rolling adds strength to the pure aluminium which then travels far, to can makers all over Europe – and within just six weeks those new shiny drinks cans are back on the shelves.

Aluminium Foil
Bottle tops, take-away containers, as well as cooking and wrapping foil are all welcome.
It is easy to mistake silver-coated plastic (such as crisp packets) for the real thing. The squash test works every time: aluminium foil will stay crushed in your hand, the plastic sort springs back.
Foil should be washed and squashed together and kept separate in the recycling box.

What Happens Next?
Foil is recycled separately from cans because it is made from a slightly different alloy of metal. It is similar to the aluminium can process, without the de-coating or shredding. Ingots are much smaller, about a metre long, from which more foil is made, or a range of products such as light-weight car parts.

Clothes, Shoes And Textiles

2 million pairs of shoes are discarded every week in the U.K.
Different areas have their own range of materials which are accepted. Often the list is limited to wearable garments and shoes Details can always be confirmed by contacting your own local authority.
Generally clothes should be reusable and clean;
Shoes should be tied in pairs.
It is important that these materials are kept dry to avoid mould which ruins them - one bag of damp clothes can contaminate a whole load.
Cloth and footwear should be carefully sealed in plastic bags, and never put out so much in advance of collection that they may get rained on!

What Happens Next?
Clothes and shoes are either sold to people here through charity shops, or are sent to developing countries where they are used again. The same applies to household linens, curtains etc. (where they are collected); lower quality textiles, not fit for wear, are taken in some districts and go for fillings or cleaning rags. Wool can be recovered and re-spun.

Unwanted glasses can be taken to either Dolland and Aitchinson opticians or Help the Aged stores.
You can also send spectacles in good condition (they do not take broken frames or bifocals) to the charity Vision Aid Overseas, 12 The Bell Centre, Newton Road, Manor Royal, Crawley, West Sussex. RH10 2FZ
enclosing a compliments slip (so that they know who to thank).
Some Local Authority recycling collection schemes will take spectacles
If using a recycling collection service it does not matter if the lenses or the frames are broken – donate them anyway.

What Happens Next?
They are sorted and cleaned and then passed onto a charity such as The World Sight Appeal or Vision Aid Oversees donate them to communities in developing countries.
VAO distribute them in developing countries, helping people who would not otherwise have access to any professional eye-care.

Car Batteries
80,000 tonnes of car batteries are thrown away every year
Ask your local authority if you can recycle car batteries through your recycling collection service, or should you take them to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre (tip)
A huge press crushes the car batteries, breaking them down into valuable component parts which can then be carefully sorted:
Plastic is thoroughly washed, dried and ground up into granules which are used in many different products, including recycling collection boxes, furniture, paint trays, car parts, drainpipes and – fittingly – more car battery cases.
Lead is melted down to make not just more car batteries, but also guttering for roofs and shields for X-ray machines in hospitals.
Acid is treated and neutralised.
Distilled Water is purified and used again.

Engine Oil
1 litre of oil can pollute a million litres of fresh drinking water.
Avoid spilling or burning – not only is this against the law but it can cause water and air pollution.
You should be able to recycle the oil through Household Waste Recycling Centres.
The Environment Agency have set up an oil care campaign to help oil users to dispose of oil responsibly. The Helpline provides advice and gives details of your nearest oil recycling bank. Alternatively this information can be found by calling 0800 663366 or go to
Containers of oil from household collections are decanted into large holding tanks. Oil is boiled and left to settle; any water is removed at this stage and the oil is filtered to remove metal particles. The process is repeated to produce a watery brown liquid that is used in the furnaces at power stations, for heating tarmac and drying stone in quarries, as an alternative to conventional fuels.

Green Waste
About a third of the average household refuse bin is made up of waste that could be composted.
Composting saves money – there's no need to fork out on commercial products from garden centres.
Composting cuts down on the need to buy peat based products, and therefore saves our almost extinct peat bogs - these support rare plants and animals.
Home-made compost makes an excellent soil conditioner and a rich source of plant food.
It's easy AND it's free!
Ask your local Authority if they supply subsidised home compost bins.
Garden waste can be taken to your local household waste recycling centre or you may receive a garden waste collection.
Find out details on how to recycle green waste by visiting and take a look at the composting fact sheet.
Green waste is vegetable matter, plant material, prunings, grass cuttings etc. from gardens. Green waste it is not generally treated in the same way as anything that has been indoors in a kitchen environment, and which may have been near meat or fish, especially uncooked. When green waste is buried in landfill, there are potential problems with leachate (seeping liquid which pollutes the soil) and methane, a gas which is flammable and contributes to the greenhouse effect.

Composting is the best method of recycling biodegradable matter. Unlike the toxic cocktail of landfill, good composting conditions enable aerobic breakdown into nutrients and soil-conditioners, a valuable resource – and virtually free for gardeners. In some areas civic amenity sites compost green waste and offer it for sale to local people, or it may be used to enrich soil on farms.

To get started you can either:

  1. Build a compost bin from old pallets or wood posts and wire mesh netting lined with old carpet or thick cardboard. Cover this with a wooden lid or old carpet to keep the rain out and heat in.
    Or contact your local authority to find out if they sell subsidised compost bins.

    Do Compost:
    Kitchen waste – such as fruit skins and vegetable peelings, tea bags, coffee grounds and crushed egg shells.
    Garden waste – grass cuttings (but not too much at a time), hedge clippings, prunings, old plants and flowers.
    Crumpled or shredded card and waste paper – including cardboard tubes and egg boxes. Try to avoid heavily coloured paper.
    Wood ash - but not coal.
    Human hair and animal fur.
    Autumn leaves – in small amounts. Otherwise put them in bin liners where they rot down and are great for mulch.
    Old pure wool jumpers and other natural fabrics.
    Sawdust & bedding and manure from vegetarian pets such as rabbits.

    Don't Compost:
    Cooked food, meat and fish.
    Droppings from meat-eating animals.
    Magazines and heavily inked cardboard.
    Coal ash and soot.
    Plants infected with persistent diseases such as clubroot, white rot & blight.
    The roots of persistent weeds like bindweed or couch grass.
    Synthetic fabrics.
    Glass plastic and metal – these should be recycled separately.

    What Happens Next?
    Whatever you decide! Compost produced from your own compost bins can be used as a mulch to discourage weeds, dug into your soil around your plants or used in window boxes or pot plants.

    The world's annual consumption of plastic materials has increased from around 5 million tonnes in the 1950s to nearly 100 million tonnes today
    It is estimated that nearly 3 million tonnes of plastic waste is produced a year in the UK.
    Wherever possible buy refillable plastic containers and try to avoid unnecessary packaging
    Plastic is a problem, and most people realise why. It is not going to go away: because natural processes will never be able to break it down. Its manufacture uses petrochemicals from oil supplies which cannot be replaced, and involves high-temperature furnaces and long-distance travel. Plastic is also very light, often filled with air, and can take up a huge amount of room. Most discarded plastic is buried in landfill. But it is valuable and should have more than one life – above ground!

There are many different types which must be separated before processing and the 'bottle' type is most suitable for recycling. So the kind of container used for milk, fizzy drinks, shampoos, detergents, cleaning fluids etc., is collected. At present it is not possible to accept plastic film or carriers, tubs and pots or the sort of punnet in which fruit and meat is sold.

Two main types of plastic are recycled: basically clear and opaque. These are chopped into flakes, formed into pellets, then melted down for manufacture into various new products – although the material will not be used to contain food or drink again. Instead hard surfaces for furniture are made or flexible drainage pipes; most inspiring of all is the high quality fleece which can be produced for outdoor clothing.

Some areas are lucky enough to have a kerbside collection for plastic bottles, in others they have to be taken back to the supermarket (some Tesco's and Sainsbury's provide huge containers to make it easy); Civic Amenity sites also offer facilities for plastic recycling. Bottles – with tops removed – need to be rinsed, and flattened to save space. (It can be fun, squashing bottles flat, and children are usually willing to help!)

It's worth the effort, and more people are understanding why. Any contribution, however small, will mean a little less plastic buried for ever!.

For more information about plastic recycling in Bristol click here

Use solar energy from the sun

Throwaway Nappies are costing the earth – literally.
For tomorrow's world and today's children : it's time to rethink

Set up as a waste minimisation initiative in 2001, The Real Nappy Project encourages parents, nurseries, clinics and hospitals to use washable nappies and reduce the volume of disposables going into the waste stream. It is run by the Recycling Consortium; an awareness-raising not-for-profit organisation.
For further information on The Real Nappy Project, please click here

For a parents guide to real nappies, how to use them, and where to buy them from, please click here



Every year over 1 million computers end up in our landfill sites. At the moment less than 20% of old computers are recycled! There are a number of national companies which take large amounts of redundant PC's from businesses for re-use, as well as local community projects which take PC's for refurbishment and then pass these on to charities, schools, low income households and developing countiries overseas.

Avon Youth Association, Thornbury, S Glos
Take Pentiums and above & parts of PC's (keyboards etc) for use on Community Bus and youth projects.
Tel: 01454 868371

Blue Parrot Media – Covers Bristol/Gloucestershire area. Keyhead House, Colston Ave, Bristol, BS1 1EB
Removes computers and peripherals to break down for spares; donates to schools and charities; ensures responsible disposal of unusable parts.
Tel: 0870 744 1736 (Contact: Alex Clough) Fax: 0870 744 1737

Computers for African Schools (CFAS), 12 Glentworth Road, Redland, Bristol, BS6 7EG
CFAS is a registered charity based in Bristol and in the Reading area, supplying schools in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia with second-hand computers donated by firms and other computer users in Britain. Take Pentium IIs and above.
Tel: 0117 924 8549 (Contact: Andrew Gulland)
Email: Website:

Free Computers For Education, Surrey
Network of refurbishing partners throughout UK who will accept donations (Pentium I or later) and provide refurbished PCs free to schools in developing countries and for cost of refurbishing (from £50) to charities, the elderly, disabled and other disadvantaged individuals.
Tel: 0800 052 6179
Email: Website:

ICER (Industry Council for Electronic Equipment Recycling)
Has a directory of commercial organisations which take old PCs for recycling.
Tel: 0207 729 4766
Email: Website:

The Byte Back Computer Recycling Project, Knowle, Bristol
Rebuild and recycle computers to provide low cost computers especially for voluntary / community groups, students and low-income families. Also provide work and training for people wanting a career in the computer industry. Minimum collection charge – PC £25, Monitor £5.
Tel: 0117 903 9782 / 07919 595 612 (Contact: Andrew)

Euro-Recycling Limited, Unit N1, Hallen Ind. Est., Severn Rd, Hallen, Bristol,
BS10 7SE
Collections are carried out and full documentation is provided before items leave premises. The equipment is transported to Head Office where it is checked into stock and goes through the testing, data removal and removal of identification process. It is then re-distributed in the UK for local school and community projects, or full working units are donated to a charity providing IT equipment to African countries. Charge per item - £10 per PC. £5 per fax/monitor
Tel: 0117 938 1312 (Quentin)

What They Say about new energy...

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  • Do you wish to harness an income from your land with solar panels?
    A call for commitment from the Government re: EU renewables target
    Government needs to do more to remind the public it has not killed the FIT
    The need for real data to prove renewable technology’s worth
    Feed-in-tariff is not dead!
    Pros & Cons of The Green Deal.
    The Green Deal is coming, but what does it mean?
    Time is running out for 50kwp solar systems at the top rate of feed in tariff


Quick Links

Events 2024

'Social enterprise and the environment' event June 25, 2024


Save Up To 80% On Your Household Bills

FREE Training - how will climate change affect your community? June 25, 2024
Greener Living Fund launch - first pictures June 25, 2024

Wood Energy
Greener Living Programme launched June 23, 2024
The third sector gave us the welfare state, can it give us the sustainable state? June 22, 2024
UK Climate Projections launched (significant!) June 18, 2024
Funding Central launched June 17, 2024
Third Sector Climate Change Declaration June 15, 2024
Real Help for Communities: Volunteers, Charities and Social Enterprises June 7, 2024
The sun is inexhaustible. It will never run out meaning free energy for you forever Film June 5, 2024.


Comparing UK Solar Panel Installers could
Save Up To 65%

Compare UK Solar Panel Installers And Save Up To 65% Save Money Cut your electricity bill by 70%. Earn Money Earn over £800 per year with the feed in tariff. Accredited Companies We only deal with certified installers. Quick and Easy It might be worth talking to a number of different companies. One we have found helpful and consistently delivering high results in the commercial industry is Enviko, but please be your own judge.


UK Solar PV Benefits & Savings

Solar PV Cost/Savings example

This example is based on a 50kwp system with 30 degree pitch in Swindon with no grid upgrades and straight forward access. (2010)

System size: 50 kW
System cost: £75,000 +VAT
Income from FiT: £225,822 (assuming 3% RPI increase on 15.2p/kWh tariff)
Energy Savings: £106,142 (assuming unit cost = 11p/kWh)
Export Tariff Income: £15,469 (assuming inflation of 5%)
Total Profit (exc. install cost): £272,433

Benefits of Solar PV systems

    • Lower electricity bills
    • Cut carbon emissions
    • Benefit from Feed-in-tariff for 25 years
    • Cut carbon emissions
    • Improve efficiency of building
    • Sell electricity back to the grid to earn the Export tariff

    Solar PV for Farmers

    Solar can help farmers reduce energy costs and generate income at the same time. A solar PV installation can substantially reduce energy costs, especially for farms running power-hungry equipment during daylight hours. Through the feed-in-tariff you can expect a return on investment of around 8% for a 25 year period, plus the savings on your electricity costs.

    As a Solar PV specialist and accredited installer since 2004, we can help expedite planning applications and complete fit outs on permitted developments quickly and efficiently.


Energy Saving 2024

Impact of Participating

The difficulty of engaging with people has meant that Bryony isn’t sure how accurately they’re sticking to their pledges. “I’m hoping that the new scheme where you can make your own pledges will improve things” she says. “It’s a good move for this audience where people are probably already doing some of the standard pledges”. Pic

Wood Burning Energy?

Converting wood into energy

The renewable energy industry in Wales is providing the potential for new Wood Energy Businesses to be established by entrepreneurial individuals or co-operatives. A Wood Energy Business will need: 1. A guaranteed, local supply of wood or processed wood fuel 2.


Solar Power

The UK embraces Solar Power

The Government has set targets for the number of UK households that will have installed solar panels to their home. Contrary to popular believe the UK has over 65% of the radiation that Spain receives which is more than enough to guarantee a the function of a Solar PV system. With the Government's feed-in tariff in place that allows an income to be produced from installing solar energy the number of homes that rely soley on solar power is set to rise.Pic