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I wanted to take a more outward looking view of household recycling and so I took a global perspective and sent out a brief survey to my worldwide contacts. The results therefore form a primary research article, which I am delighted to share with you.

I am very fortunate to have friends around the globe who were generous enough with their time to complete my short survey – my thanks go out to them.

Whilst the cohort was relatively small, it was well spread out through the world, as you can see from the map.

Respondents were asked 6 simple questions, with the main questions asking how waste got to its recycling destination, what was taken, whether the respondent actually believed that the materials taken for household recycling were indeed recycled and how important was recycling to them as individuals, as a community and as a country.

Getting Waste to its recycling destination

Just over half of my respondents said that they have to take their household recycling to a facility, whereas just under half have their waste collected from their homes.

What wastes are taken in for recycling

Without exception, all countries took in paper to be recycled. This makes sense as paper recycling has been in existence for many years and recycled papers are readily accepted by the public

The next most common item taken in for recycling, at 93%, was glass. Again, this is logical and to be expected as glass is almost infinitely recyclable and again the public have a positive opinion of glass recycling.

Cardboard and metal cans took the next spots at 87% of countries taking them in for recycling.

From my own personal and business perspective I was delighted to see that rigid plastics was taken from household recycling in 73% of the home countries of my respondents. The reality of recycling this mix of materials is a matter for another blog another day. But it is good, nonetheless, to see such a high figure. To see what we at Aylesbury Granulation Sercvices recycle, please pop to this page. This may give you an idea as to my concerns over the mixed plastics.

Just under half of the countries take in film plastics – here in the UK these are not collected by local authorities.   However, the materials themselves are indeed recyclable – and it is arguable that it is easier to recycle mixed plastic films than mixed rigid plastics.

The final two categories were foil at 40% and food at just 20%

Is household recycling fact or fiction?

I thought I’d then ask a question which plagues me …  “Do you honestly believe that all of the items ticked in the last question are RECYCLED? For the benefit of the doubt, for this survey recycling means taking waste product and processing it to manufacture new products. (Exclude food from this answer, of course!)”

Rather worryingly – but not surprisingly – only 53% of people who completed this survey actually believed that the “recycling” waste that they collect and hand over for recycling, is indeed recycled!

What is the importance of recycling in your world

I asked how important (on a scale of very important to very unimportant) is recycling to you as an individual, to your community and to your country.

I am pleased to say that all of my friends stated that recycling was very important to them as an individual.  As for community and country I had many abstain from answering this question, but I am told that (in no order) Sweden, Slovakia, New Zealand, Singapore and the USA also consider recycling to be very important.

Additional comments

I offered a free text box, and I was greeted with a range of comments, which I would like to share with my readers.

  • In NZ we have big recycle bins that are collected free each fortnight. It is very easy to recycle here. Plastic bags have been stopped from supermarkets and we use recycled material bags. There is also a big push to use recycled bags for fruit and veg. Many people make them from old net curtains or tulle and sell them. (New Zealand)
  • It is not easy to do recycling, if government and estate management do not provide facilities! (Hong Kong)
  • We have a recycling bin that we leave at the curb every other Friday and the county picks it up. The only thing that concerns me is that we put all of our recycle items in the bin together. We keep two garbage cans in the kitchen – one for trash and one for recycle items so they aren’t separated at all when they leave my house. We also have recycling bins at my office for paper, plastic, aluminum cans and styrofoam. I have to admit that I don’t know anything about what happens to our stuff (SC, USA)
  • Living in Sweden. Everything almost can be recycled or burnt.
    • * food – container picked up at home (for free) – Is recycled in gaz
    • * plastic, paper, cardboard, foil/cans, glass or clothes/shoes – Are gathered in containers placed on public places ( supermarkt parkings)
    • * all the rest: wood, dangerous liquid, electronical devices, waste from the garden, metal are gathered on special recycling areas opened most of the days of the week. You can leave your waste there for free. It’s either recycled or burnt. (Sweden)