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Britain’s recycling statistics
Reduce, reuse, recycle.
Residual household waste refers to the volume of waste which is not recycled per household. The volume of residual household waste has decreased gradually over time. In 2017/2018 it was almost half (52%) the volume that it was in 2000/2001.
Recycling rates by material
There is an EU target for the UK to recycle at least 50% of household waste by 2020. This target is divided into smaller targets for each waste material in the UK. The UK’s recycling rate for each material compared to the EU target rate is displayed in the chart below. In 2017, the UK successfully exceeded all the EU targets.
Plastic recycling statistics
Plastic can be found in most modern products. With that in mind, the amount of plastic thrown away each year is enough to circle the earth four times over. Considering it takes only 12% of the energy required to produce plastic to recycle it, there’s no reason for us not to separate our rubbish items and deliver them to dedicated recycling points.
Sources of plastic waste
Packaging products are the biggest contributor to plastic waste. Almost 7 in 10 plastic waste items (67%) come from packaging. This is unsurprising given our huge dependence on plastic both in production and to protect items. 7.3% comes from WEEE (Waste electrical and electronic equipment) and 4.2% from our cars.
Which types of plastic products are most used in the UK?
The consumption numbers for different products that use single-use plastics in 2018 are shown below. Cigarette filters are the biggest contributor to the number of single-use plastics, with 45.8 billion consumed in 2018. Stirrers and straws also both had significant numbers, both exceeding 40 billion.
Deposit schemes as a solution
Glass and plastic bottles are the two most popular types of deposit schemes, having over half of all respondents agree that they might use them. Smaller household items still containing plastic are less likely to be dropped at a deposit location. It’s lucky then that the involvement of the local authority has increased in the past two decades.
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