How to Start Recycling At Home Josh Jackman Last updated on 15th March 2022 6 minutes read ✔ The UK recycles just 45% of its waste✔ Increasing this recycling rate would save million of tonnes of CO2e✔ Composting is the most environmentally friendly way to reduce food wasteRecycling is a simple way to fight climate change and reduce waste.Landfills in the UK release 14.2 million tonnes of CO2e* per year – the equivalent of 2.7 million people’s emissions – transforming resources that could be reused into perpetrators of climate chaos.The UK currently recycles less of its waste than Slovenia, Taiwan, and Austria, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).In food waste alone, 9.52 million tonnes is squandered each year – but you can help to change all of that.And we’re going to explain how. * carbon dioxide equivalent, a measurement that converts all greenhouse emissions into CO2 termsWhat’s on this page? 01 | Recycling at home checklist 02 | What can and can’t you recycle? 03 | Card and cardboard 04 | Metal 05 | Paper 06 | Plastic 07 | Organic waste 08 | Clothes 09 | Batteries 10 | Next steps Recycling at home checklistBefore you start making the world a better place from your own home, you should ensure you're familiar with all the ways to make it as easy as possible.So here’s everything you need to do, in four simple steps: ⬜ Enter your postcode on Recycle Now, a government-supported, charity-run initiative that will tell you what, how, and where you can recycle rubbish in your local area.⬜ With these local capabilities in mind, make a list that shows what you can and can’t recycle, and put it above or on every bin you own. This’ll make it easy for everyone in your home to recycle.⬜ Make sure you have an indoor recycling point. Whatever your situation, make sure there’s at least one place where all members of your household can drop recycling.⬜ Ensure your recycling is relatively clean, dry, and empty. What things can and can’t you recycle at home?Recycling rules can be hard to navigate, but with a little help, the whole process becomes easy enough.Here’s a guide to what is and isn’t allowed into UK recycling plants, and some quick tips on what you’ll need to do to make sure your recyclables are accepted.And remember: if you have old items with practical uses, like gardening tools, kitchenware, or children’s toys, you can recycle them by giving them to someone else, or to a charity shop. How to recycle card and cardboardRemove tape, polystyrene, and any plastic from cardboard packagingRemove any glitter, badges, or batteries from greeting cardsYou can also compost egg boxes, kitchen towel rolls, and toilet rollsYesNoCardboard envelopes and boxes (e.g. delivery boxes and cereal boxes)Card stained with food, grease, paint, dirt, etc.Corrugated cardboardFood and drink cartons (except Tetra Paks)Greetings cards without glitterGreetings cards with glitterEgg boxesBrown paper How to recycle metalEmpty and clean out anything with food or drinkYou can leave labels on, as they’re removed later in the processLeave metal lids and caps on glass containers to be recycled with glassYesNoCans of drinkLaminated foil (if it springs back when you scrunch it up, it can’t be recycled)Food tins, including biscuit and chocolate tinsCrisp packets and sweet wrappersAerosols (but recycle plastic caps with plastics)Metal containers for chemicals (e.g. engine oil, paint, and white spirits)Aluminium foil (but scrunch it up to reduce space)Kitchen gear (e.g. cutlery, pots, and pans)Aluminium foil traysKettles, irons, pipesAluminium tubes (but recycle plastic caps with plastics)White goods (e.g. fridges and dishwashers) How to recycle paperJust like foil, if you scrunch up paper and it doesn't spring back, it can be recycledRemove any plastic wrappingTry to keep paper unstained, as its only recyclable if it’s cleanYesNoBrochures, catalogues, and magazinesWallpaperBrown paper, but put it with cardSticky papers like post-it notesEnvelopes (including ones with a window)Paper stained with food, grease, paint, dirt, etc.Junk mail and flyersUsed paper towelsNewspapersAnything that’s not actually paper (e.g. sanitary towels, tissues, and wet wipes)Shredded paperTelephone directoriesWhite paper How to recycle plasticPut plastic lids back on bottles and push straws back into cartons, to ensure they make it through the recycling processSquash plastic bottles as much as you can, to save space and stop them rolling off sorting conveyor beltsClean out your plastic recycling. It doesn’t have to be completely spotless, but a stray half-container of peanut butter or orange juice can spill and contaminate an entire loadLeave any labels onA useful general rule is that if you can stretch it, it can be recycledYou can recycle anything which has the familiar looping triangle of arrows containing a four, but don’t recycle anything that has a three or five inside the trianglePlastic bottlesYesNoClear and coloured household plastic bottlesPlastic bottles that have contained dangerous chemicals (e.g. antifreeze)Detergent and soap bottles (but not the pump)Detergent and soap bottles (but not the pump)Cleaning product bottles (the spraying mechanism can be left in)Skin care bottlesShampoo and shower gel bottlesDrinks bottles (including fizzy drinks)Milk bottlesPlant food and pesticide bottlesPlastic filmYesNoAll plastic bags, except biodegradable and compostable bagsCling filmBread bagsFood and drink pouchesCereal bagsBakery wrappersShrink wrap and ring joiners in drink multipacksFilm lids from trays and pots (e.g. yoghurt pots)Frozen food bagsCrisp packetsBags that cover new or dry-cleaned clothesCompostable bags (compost them instead)Magazine and newspaper wrappersBiodegradable filmFruit and vegetable bagsReady-made salad bagsBubble wrap How to recycle organic wasteAsk your local authority if they can give you a kitchen caddy to collect food waste, and put cooked or raw food scraps in thereAlso ask your local authority for a garden waste bin, and follow any specific instructions they give you for itIf you don’t get a special garden waste bag, use a stronger bag than a black bin liner, and avoid overfilling it – this way, it won’t tear, and you can use it againRemove all packaging from food waste – particularly plasticIf you can compost at home, do it – it’s the most environmentally friendly optionFood wasteYesNoAll food, even if it’s mouldy or out-of-dateLiquids (e.g. milk), as they can leak during transportationTea bags and coffee groundsInedible/rarely eaten food by-products (e.g. egg shells, fish and meat bones, and fruit and vegetable peelings)Small amounts of cooking oil and fats – not enough that it could leak (throw the rest in the bin)Garden wasteYesNoGrass and leavesAnything inorganic (e.g. tools)Flowers and weedsTree barkTwigs and pruned branchesHomegrown fruit and vegetables How to recycle clothesAll clothes can be recycled, either so other people can wear them, or so they can be turned into different items like blankets, cloths, and seat paddingCheck if your local authority collects clothes to recycle themIf not, look up your nearest recycling point or clothing and textile banks, which are usually in car parks and outside supermarkets and retailersYou can also use the Charity Retail Association’s search tool to find your nearest charity shop that accepts clothesSome charities like the British Heart Foundation will even come to your home to collect clothesYesNoAll clothing, in whatever state How to recycle batteriesCheck if your council collects batteries with the rest of your recyclingIn most cases, you’ll have to drop them off at a recycling centre or collection pointUse rechargeable batteries powered by renewable energy whenever possibleYesNoAll batteries in your home, including the ones in watches, laptops, mobiles, power tools, and remote controlsCar batteries (take them to a collection point) Next stepsRecycling is an important step in the process of fighting climate change from home. If everyone recycled, we’d eliminate millions more tonnes of greenhouse gases.But like so many other massive processes, it’s imperfect.For instance, plastic can only be recycled once or twice before it loses its structure entirely, so as well as recycling it, try to avoid buying plastic as much as possible.And just because you put your waste in the recycling, doesn’t mean it’ll be recycled. 11% of the rubbish collected for recycling every year is burned in incinerators that release 12.6 million tonnes of CO2 annually.So recycle as much as possible, but take further steps as well: switch to a green energy supplier if you can, consider getting solar panels, and follow our tips to use less electricity and water. Josh Jackman Senior Writer @josh_jackman Josh has written about eco-friendly home improvements and climate change for the past three years. His work has featured on the front page of the Financial Times; he’s been interviewed by BBC Radio; and he was the resident expert in BT’s smart home tech initiative.