Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

When I was around 14 years old, I was put into a debate team on the above topic. There were 9 of us, in groups of three. One team had to debate recycling, the other had to debate incineration, and we had to debate landfill. We even got a tour of a landfill site!

Long story short, the recycling team and us ganged up on the incineration team. We won.

So many people recycle, and in some ways get it wrong. Simple things like putting the wrong type of plastic into the recycling. Or leaving the lids on bottles (two different plastics and a lot of places don’t recycle the lids). Soft plastics like polystyrene cannot be recycled.

So with the best intentions people order a domestic waste bin and a generic recycling bin (the blue/green bin in the UK and Ireland). And just feck in a bunch of items that are not food waste. Each recycling centre is different and has access to different processing options. But the below are things people should NOT be putting into their recycling (Repak.ie)

  • Soft plastic is not currently accepted in the recycling bin ā€“ please place in the black bin
  • Nappies and sanitary products (including baby wipes)
  • Food waste
  • Broken toys
  • Contaminated packaging (greasy, dirty or with residue)
  • Garden cuttings / soil
  • Polystyrene
  • Liquids / oils
  • Textiles ā€“ including clothes / shoes and home furnishings
  • Dismantled furniture
  • Medical waste
  • Glass ā€“ bring this to your local bring bank
  • Light bulbs
  • Electrical / electronic equipment (anything that can contain a battery or a plug)
  • Batteries
  • General waste that should be in the general waste bin

When in doubt get in touch with your local centre and they will have a list of things they can handle. I suggest that you drop your waste collection that use your wheelie bins and look into visiting the recycling centre yourself.

  • Firstly you will have complete control of the recycling process and won’t come a cropper of any unethical actions your waste processing company might take.
  • You will go one step towards removing a diesel truck from the road
  • You will save so much money! We had two bins for collection back-in-the-day. It cost us about 30-40EUR a month. Now we visit the Cork County Council Mallow Recycling Centre about every quarter. To summerise anything recyclable is FREE and entry is 3EUR. We have maybe 2 bags of domestic waste in that time. We have cats and dogs, and me (female) so there are just some things that cannot be recycled in any way.

In order to help the transition to better recycling have a go at a more thorough separation of your waste (in alignment with your local recycling centre) before cutting ties with waste management. Once you have the habit formed go ahead and manage it yourself!


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Living on a mountain in Ireland. Working towards being self-sufficient but starting with a conscious effort towards sustainability.

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