Recycling is easy when you know what you can recycle and where, and how it helps.
Everything we throw in the rubbish bin is potentially a lost resource, meaning new things need to be made out of virgin material to replace what we’ve thrown away. If every one of us recycled just one more thing, it would make a huge difference.
If every Londoner recycled just one more aluminium can, with the energy saved we could power a TV set every day for nearly 63 years!
Recycling also reduces the need for extracting, refining and processing raw materials from the earth, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. At our current rate, UK recycling is estimated to save more than 18 million tonnes of CO2 a year – the equivalent to taking 5 million cars off the road.
Find out more about what happens to different things once they've been sent for recycling.
Why recycle plastics?
On average, we drink two million plastic bottles of water every day in London. Each 500ml bottle that is recycled saves enough energy to make three rounds of toast. So if every one of us 8.6 million Londoners recycled one more bottle of water every day, we’d have enough spare energy to make 9.4 billion rounds of toast annually - and save an awful lot of money too.
Why recycle glass?
No one really knows how long it takes glass to decompose in landfill, because as far as we know, none has ever actually decomposed. But we do know glass can easily (and infinitely) be recycled and used in other glass products. If every Londoner recycled one more glass jar every week, we could prevent 10,000 tonnes of glass being thrown away every year. That’s almost half the weight of the glass façade on the Shard.
Why recycle paper and card?
Last year the UK threw away 227,000 miles of wrapping paper – that’s enough to wrap Big Ben. Most of this can easily be recycled to make other paper products. Why? Because every tonne of paper recycled saves 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, 4,000 kW of energy and 7,000 gallons of water.
Why recycle metals?
Both aluminium and steel food and drink cans can be recycled easily and used again and again. That’s why London recycles nearly a tonne of household metal every day. Recycling aluminium saves 95% of energy resources compared with making it from virgin materials.
Why recycle clothes and textiles?
Just because something might have gone out of fashion - or it's worn out - doesn't mean it's a load of old rubbish. If you recycle old clothes, they can have a new life - either as new clothes for somebody else or as stuffing or insulation. The same goes for all our textiles in London.
Why recycle food waste?
You can turn all food waste, even bones and egg shells, into compost or electricity. 24 million slices of bread go to waste every day from UK homes - enough to go up and down the Shard almost 400 times – so let’s put food waste to good use instead.
Why recycle garden waste?
If you have a garden or an allotment, in many parts of London you can turn your waste into compost by recycling it – even if you can’t compost it at home. And with millions of gardens and allotments in the capital, all those grass cuttings, hedge trimmings and weeds add up to an awful lot of compost.