Recycling myths debunked

The Gively team have pulled together a list of those recycling myths can at times lead us to do more harm than good, when it comes to the recycling efficiency.

The triangle icon means the item is recyclable: False

Many people could be forgiven for thinking that this reassuring symbol signifies a recyclable item. I'm afraid to break it to you - this is not the case. This simply highlights that the company has contributed in some way (probably financially) towards to recycling of packaging. It has to explicitely state 'recyclable' for this to be the case. More work needs to done to communicate recyclability in a more effective manner, as the current experience is a confusing one for all of us.

Recycled materials are used to create the same products: False

We'd all like to think that once we finish our plastic box of blueberries, that the recycled container will simply reappear on supermarket shelves with blueberries within it once again. Sadly, this is not the case. When plastic is recycled its quality reduces, which mean it can no longer be used to make transparent containers. Reused plastic may go on to be be made into polyester (for clothing).

However, glass paper and metal can be constantly reused, over and over again. Plastic degrades every time that it's used, becoming useless after one or two recycling journeys. This means recycling cannot be the silver bullet, and that the real solution for the consumer is to avoid packaging altogether when consuming goods, and where possible to consumer less new goods.

If in doubt, leave it out

If you're not sure if something can be recycled, leave it out: True

Why don't I have a go and see if it'll be recycled. It can't do any harm, can it? It can. One non-recyclable item can render an entire batch of recycling useless. One could be forgiven for believing otherwise. Once again the information available (packaging or elsewhere) is extremely limited.

Receipts are recyclable: False

Possilbly one of the greatest sins to come out of the the supermarket since the plastic bag, the receipt is not recyclable, and billions of them are printed every year - 11 billion. This is because they’re composed of more than one material and contain a combination of potentially harmful BPA and BPS chemicals. About 50 per cent of receipts are made this way.

Items should be clean before being recycled: True

But do I have to scrape out that last bit of peanut butter for the plastic jar? Yes you do. Here's why. If the item is contaminated too much, then it is likely to destined to become a lower-grade material, reducing the item's chances of being reused in the same packaging class as it was in before. Get the hot water running, and start scrubbing.

The general message here is recycling is important, but it is not a silver bullet for our growing waste problem. Where possible, the best thing to do is to reuse containers, buy products without packaging, or to give away items where they can still offer a benefit to a neighbour or a friend.

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