Where Does It All Go?

The mantra from all governments these days is  “recycle, recycle, recycle!” We are told that recycling our household waste will solve all our problems of waste, pollution and over-consumption.

Unfortunately, this is not true. Not even a little bit.


The worldbank estimates that over 1.3 billion tonnes of domestic waste is generated every year. This is around 1.3kg per person, per day. The UK alone produces over 40 million tons of waste every year [1] and the richer the Country, the more waste there is per person.


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Source: World Bank



Source: Plastics Europe


So, where does it all go? In Europe, for example  (By far the most advanced recycling region in the world) there are still Countries that are sending  over 66% of post-consumer plastic waste to landfill.

Did you know that due to capacity limitations and the cost of processing, most of this plastic that is recycled, is then sent to China or India for recycling. The UK estimates that over 4 million tons of its waste is shipped oversea’s for processing.

Here are the recycle rates for some other materials in the UK. Remember that everything that is not recycled, ends up as landfill or is incinerated causing more pollution.

  • Paper – 55% recycled
  • Aluminium cans – 33% recycled
  • Glass – 50% recycled

Now, have a look at the recycling levels across the world. You will see that one of the most efficient recyclers in the world, Taiwan, can only claim to recycle 60% of its waste. All the rest is dumped in landfill or incinerated causing more pollution.

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So recycling then is simply not effective enough to deal with our mountains of waste. It is difficult for everyone involved to be effective because it is expensive and inefficient. We know that it is much cheaper and easier to burn or dump in the ground and this is what happens a lot of the time.

The only real way to deal with this mountain of trash that builds up every year is to use less of it and we can do this, easily if we try. Check out some of our previous posts on reducing your waste and be sure to follow the 52 ways to reduce your environmental footprint for some projects and ideas.

Remember that this is our future and no-one will protect it but us.

#reducewaste #environmentalfootprint #onebrownplanet #breakfreefromplastic

1 http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/where-does-all-our-rubbish-go-465773.html