Britons recycle £1bn worth of rubbish

Figures published this week show that the British public has recycled rubbish worth over £1bn since 2003.

According to national campaign Recycle Now materials recovered from recycling over the past five years had a value of £1.1bn and each year the public is recycling almost a third more than the previous year.

The amount of rubbish being sent for recycling has almost doubled over the last five years, which has contributed to this marked increase in value.

Latest statistics for England show that we sent around 33.8 million tonnes of our waste for recycling since 2003.

Had we not recycled these materials, the total volume of waste would have covered an area the size of the City of London one metre deep 40 times over, and the cost of sending them to the tip would have been approximately £1.8 billion.

Laura Underwood from Recycle Now said: "Recycling is a success story and it's having a major impact.

"We've saved 30 million tonnes of CO2 which is the same as taking a third of our cars off UK roads for a year. Research proves recycling is the best case scenario for both the environment, and our pockets, so there's every reason to keep a good thing going."

In the past year alone, household recycling amounted to 8.7 million tonnes. This included quantities of aluminium, steel, glass and paper equivalent to:

  • 3.3 billion aluminium cans, enough to stretch around the world ten times

  • 8 billion steel food tins, seven times the amount of steel used to build Wembley Stadium

  • 2.1 billion 75cl glass wine bottles

  • 6.6 billion newspapers, nine out of every ten sold in the UK in 2008

  • While current global demand for recycled materials has been affected by the economic downturn, latest survey results indicate that UK recycling markets are stabilising, with prices rising for higher quality materials.

    Laura Underwood added: "Despite a dip in prices for recycled materials, more than 95% of material put out for recycling is being recycled, helping make the best use of ever scarcer resources.

    "The feedback we're getting from recycling businesses on the ground is that markets are open and recycling is still worth a considerable amount to the UK economy at today's prices."

    Oliver Heath, eco-designer and supporter of the Recycle Now campaign, said: "Two-thirds of us are now recycling as a way of life and it's good to know that doing our bit has made a real difference.

    "But there's always more we can do, so I'd encourage families to think about extra measures we can all take to recycle, reduce or reuse in our daily lives".

    David Gibbs



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