Recycling at home

Reduce, reuse, recycle

We all produce waste in going about our daily lives and whilst recycling as much of this rubbish as possible is good, the best environmental option is to reduce the amount we produce in the first place.

We can all reduce the amount of waste we create for example, by buying fruit and vegetables loose, looking out for items with little or no packaging and by stopping junk mail.

We can re-use items as many times as we can before we think about recycling or disposal. For example, re-using glass jars as storage containers, using real nappies or donating unwanted furniture to charity.

There are lots of simple actions we can all take to make a real difference, below are just a few examples:

Switching to real nappies

Disposable nappies have a huge environmental impact:

  • 3.5 billion disposable nappies are used in Britain every year - that's 8 million nappies every day
  • A baby has approximately 4,500 nappy changes in 30 months
  • 7 million trees are felled each year just to feed the production of disposables for the British market - that's 4.5 trees for each child
  • It takes a cup of crude oil to produce the plastic for 1 disposable nappy
  • Disposable nappies take between 200 and 500 years to decompose
  • Every used disposable nappy thrown away will be in a landfill site somewhere near you.

To find out more visit Recycle for Greater Manchester.

Stopping junk mail

Unwanted, unread Direct Mail coming through your letterbox is a waste but there is a way to stop it by registering with the Mail Preference Service.

The Mailing Preference Service (MPS) is a free service set up 20 years ago and funded by the direct mail industry to enable consumers to have their names and home addresses in the UK removed from or added to lists used by the industry. It is actively supported by the Royal Mail and all directly involved trade associations and fully supported by The Information Commissioners Office.

Registering is easy, you can:

Clear out your clutter

Take unwanted clothes, shoes, household textiles, books, CDs, toys and bric-a-brac to your local charity shop.

Recycle your old mobile phone, toner cartridges and foreign currency to raise money for charity and help the environment at the same time. See the Age UK website for more details.

Home composting

Every year thousands of tonnes of kitchen and garden waste are thrown in the dustbin, which usually ends up in expensive, unsightly and environmentally damaging landfill sites.

Up to 35% of household waste is organic and suitable for home composting. Simply put it in a compost bin and leave it to breakdown for a few months. The end result is a rich, nutritious, crumbly compost which can be dug into the garden to improve soil structure. It can also be used as a mulch to suppress weeds and improve drainage.

We have joined with Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority to offer our residents the opportunity to purchase compost bins at discounted prices.

For more details, visit the get composting website, or to order by telephone, please ring 0844 571 4444.

Donating unwanted items – instead of throwing it away, donate it!

There are a number of charitable organisations that will collect furniture in good condition free of charge. These are then sold to people on low incomes.

Contact the following organisations to find out if your item is suitable to be donated:

Using online exchange sites to trade or swap your unwanted items

You might not need that old sofa or wheelbarrow any more but there might be someone just round the corner who does. Or if there's something you'd like, someone nearby might have one.

Freegle is a national grassroots organisation of people who are giving and receiving free unwanted items in their immediate communities. Local charities, non-profit groups and communities are encouraged to join.

All groups within the organisation operate with a basic principle - all offers and requests must be freegle (free and legal).

To sign up, post an offer of something you want to get rid of, or a wanted for something you need, visit the freegle website.

Freecycle is another similar organisation.

Recycle all your disused small electrical equipment and household batteries

Over 75% of waste electrical equipment ends up in landfill, where lead and other toxins contained in the electrical items can cause soil and water contamination. Many of the electrical items that we throw away can be repaired or recycled. Recycling items helps to save natural finite resources and also reduces the environmental and health risks associated with sending waste electrical goods to landfill.

Electrical equipment should not be disposed of in the rubbish bin and should be taken to the Household Waste Recycling Centres for recycling.

Rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries can contain hazardous substances, such as lithium, mercury, lead, cadmium and zinc, so they should not be disposed of in the rubbish bin.

Look out for battery collection bins at your local supermarket or shop and there are also collection bins at the following locations:

Cut down the amount of food you waste

A third of the food we buy in the UK ends up being thrown away. Of course, some is peelings, cores and bones, but most of it is, or once was, perfectly good food. 

Little by little, all this waste really adds up. Over a year, the average family throws away £610 of food shopping, that's a lot of food.

Wasted food is a waste of money and has a big impact on climate change. Most of it ends up in landfill sites, where it rots and releases greenhouse damaging methane. It's also a waste of the energy, water and packaging used in its production, transportation and storage.

The Love Food Hate Waste campaign aims to raise awareness of the need to reduce food waste. The campaign shows that by doing some easy practical everyday things in the home we can all waste less food, which will ultimately benefit our purses and the environment too.

Paper and card

Are you recycling all of your paper and card?

It is estimated that in 2010/11 a whopping 100,000 tonnes of paper and card in Greater Manchester was not recycled because it was not put in the correct recycling container – that is the same weight as 25,000 African elephants!

Don’t forget that you can recycle your greeting cards, envelopes, wrapping paper (non foil), catalogues, cardboard, newspapers, magazines, paper price tags, receipts, card food packaging (no food please), food and drink cartons and kitchen and toilet roll tubes. It’s all made of the same stuff, so recycle it together. To make more room, please squash the items first.

For even more hints and tips on reducing, re-using and recycling, visit Recycle for Greater Manchester.