Mythbuster – reuse and recycling

Knowing what to recycle or not can be confusing.

We hope to dispel myths and give answers to these common questions to help you carry on recycling.

Recycling service

Myth: Recycling doesn’t make a difference – it just goes to landfill.

Your recycling is processed and sold to be used again, such as new aluminium cans, new paper, and cardboard. It also allows reuse of some products.

Myth: Recycling is sent abroad to be recycled, wasting money on transport and fuel.

Wherever possible we recycle our materials right here or in the UK.

Myth: Recycling uses more energy than it saves.

Making products from recycled materials requires less energy than making them from new raw materials. Sometimes it's a huge difference in energy. For example, producing new aluminium from old products (including recycled cans and foil) uses 95% less energy than making it from scratch. It also reduces the demand on natural resources. Find out why it is important to recycle.

Myth: Rinsing out recyclables is a waste of time, water, and energy.

Making sure bottles and other food and drinks packaging are completely empty and giving them a quick rinse before recycling is important for recycling. This is because it stops other recyclables from being contaminated. You could use your dishwater after cleaning your dishes to give them a quick rinse.

Rinsing recyclable packaging, like yoghurt pots and soup tins, makes sure any food or product residue doesn’t contaminate other materials, such as paper. This makes better quality recycled products.

Myth: There's no point in recycling, it all ends up in the same lorry.

Our refuse collection vehicles (RCVs) have separate compartments close together within the vehicle. So, when materials are loaded, it can look like separated recyclables are being mixed together when in fact they're entering separate compartments.

Myth: It doesn't matter if I put the wrong things in my green bin, it all gets sorted out anyway.

If you put the wrong things into your recycling, you risk contaminating the whole load. This might mean all the materials are sent for disposal instead of recycling or that the quality of the recyclable materials produced are lower. So, if in doubt, leave it out.

When we take recycling to the sorting facility, anything that is not a recyclable material gets removed from the sorting process. The unrecyclable items are then taken for incineration or landfill.

The worst things to put in your recycling bin are soiled items (such as nappies and food-covered packaging) and glass. If these go into the lorry, it can contaminate the whole load and be rejected. This means other people’s recycling efforts are wasted, as well as your own.

Myth: I can't recycle everything as there's not enough room in my recycling bin and the council will charge me for another bin.

There is no fee for replacement or additional recycling bins (green bins), food caddies, insert boxes, and reusable sacks. Order replacements or additional bins

You can also place extra recycling in a clear/white bag to the side of your recycling bin or reusable sack, and we will collect it.

Myth: You have an Energy from Waste facility now. Surely, it's better to burn the recycling and use it to generate electricity?

In many cases, burning waste uses more energy than it creates. It is usually more energy-efficient to recover and reuse recyclables than it is to make new items.

Myth: You can’t recycle paper more than once

On average, office paper can be recycled into new office paper around five to seven times. Paper becomes less recyclable each time it's reused, as its fibres become shorter and shorter. Eventually, the fibres are so short that the paper can no longer be used as standard paper again.

Myth: You can't recycle food and drink cartons.

Over 90% of local authorities are now collecting cartons for recycling, including us.

Myth: Glass is not as good a quality once it is recycled.

Glass can be recycled endlessly without any loss of quality

Myth: I can put my smashed drinking glass in recycling

Unfortunately, drinking glasses cannot be recycled because they contain added chemicals. The chemicals are needed so that this type of glass can be tougher to hold both hot and cold beverages. It also means the glass has a different melting point than the types of glass typically put in recycling bins.

Myth: It’s got a recycling symbol on it. That means I can recycle it at home

These symbols are a guide to how many councils may collect this material, to be sure you should check our A-Z recycling list.

Myth: Recycling metal uses more energy than extracting the raw material in the first place

Recycling aluminium cans saves up to 95% of the energy needed to make new cans from fresh raw material. The energy saved in not having to make just one aluminium can from scratch is enough to power a TV for three hours.

Myth: Sending material to China for recycling is a waste of money and energy

We have an opportunity to fill space on cargo ships not being utilised. As a result of this, CO2 emissions associated with transporting recovered materials to China are below 10 per cent of the carbon savings that arise from recycling the material.

Food waste

Myth: Food waste ends up in landfill.

Your food is collected from the kerbside and taken to an anaerobic digestion facility to become farmland fertiliser and electricity. This helps the environment and reduces the amount of waste to landfill.

Myth: It’s ok to send food waste to landfill because food breaks down naturally.

In the UK we throw away 6.5 million tonnes of food and drink every year, 4.5million of which is edible. If this amount was sent to landfill it will produce the harmful greenhouse gas methane. This is because food waste needs oxygen to biodegrade naturally but when it is all squashed into landfill no air can get to it.

Myth: The binmen don’t separate food waste when it goes on the collection truck.

Our refuse collection vehicles (RCVs) have separate compartments close together within the vehicle. When materials are loaded, it can look like separated recyclables are being mixed together but they're entering separate compartments.