Are you making these six recycling mistakes?

Most people today want to reduce their impact on the environment – but are we all getting it right? Fin out if you’re making these six recycling mistakes.

The amount of plastic waste has been estimated to go up by 40% in the summertime and most of it ends up in the sea.

A minimum of 10 million tons of plastic materials enters the ocean annually and plastic waste makes up about 80% of all marine debris. This contributes to microplastics seeping its way in not only the environment and wildlife but also our own bodies and affecting our health.

Not everything thrown away in the recycling is recyclable, and even if you believe you are doing your part by recycling, there may be more you can do to make a difference. The brand Ocean Info reveals six ways our recycling mistakes affect the oceans and how to fix those mistakes to reduce refuse going in to landfill, environment and us.

1) Wishcycling  

Wishcycling is the act of putting non-recyclable items in recycling bins and hoping that they are recyclable.

When non-recyclable items are mixed with recyclables, it is challenging for recycling facilities to effectively sort and process the materials. This can negatively affect the ocean as it leads to contamination of recyclables, increases overall waste, and contributes to potentially pollution ending up in our oceans.

Shockingly, only 9% of everyday plastics are recycled. To stop the habit of Wishcycling education, clear guidelines, reduction efforts, improved waste management, and recycling infrastructure are essential.

2) Recycling compostable packaging

Compostable packaging refers to packaging materials that are designed to break down and decompose under specific conditions in the compost or organic waste processing centres.

Compostable packaging should not be placed in recycling bins as they can interfere with the recycling process. Instead, they should be disposed of in compost or food waste bins, where they can break down naturally without causing issues for recycling centres.

It is important not to mistake biodegradable packaging with compostable packaging. Biodegradable packaging will provide no nutritional benefits to compost piles even though it can break down into smaller pieces. 

3) Recycling contaminated packaging

83% of UK households unwarily contaminate their recycling bins. Contamination occurs when recyclable materials are improperly prepared for recycling or when items that have been Wishcycled are added.

Glass jars and bottles that are not properly cleaned before being placed in recycling bins can contaminate other recyclables. Cardboard boxes that are greasy like pizza boxes or takeaway containers are considered contaminated and should be placed in the rubbish bin rather than the recycling bin. 

Recycling sorting centres must dispose of contaminated items because they cannot be effectively processed. Cleaning recyclable items and disposing of contaminated materials in the appropriate bins can help reduce contamination and reduce the amount of waste overall.

4) Recycling items that are too small

This refers to small items that may not be suitable for recycling when placed directly in recycling bins. These items can fall through the sorting machinery at recycling facilities or get lost in the process, making them difficult to recycle effectively.

To address this issue, it is recommended to collect and consolidate small items before recycling them. For example, collecting small plastic bottle caps in a larger plastic bottle before recycling can help ensure they are properly processed.

5) Leaving tape on cardboard

Many types of tape used on cardboard packaging are not recyclable. So, before disposing of cardboard in recycling bins, it is important to remove any tape present. This allows for more efficient recycling of the cardboard material, as tape can interfere with the recycling process.

Tape entering the ocean risks microplastic contamination and can also cause a suffocation risk to wildlife, making it important to dispose of in a refuse bin.

6) Not taking your recycling home

Taking home your rubbish emphasizes the importance of properly managing waste, especially when enjoying a day at the beach. Instead of leaving rubbish behind in the local bins provided, it is recommended to take it home and sort it into the correct bins.

This reduces the chance of rubbish falling out or being carried away by wind or water, which can negatively impact the local environment. By taking responsibility for our waste and ensuring it is disposed of correctly, we can help prevent litter and pollution in the oceans.

There are also initiatives like Take 5 where every time you visit the beach you find and take five pieces of rubbish from the beach and dispose of them correctly.