Further Recycling Facts and Figures

As promised, here are some more snippets about recycling from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) that you may not be aware of. Prepare to be amazed! I mentioned in a previous blog that 16% of the cost of products typically goes on the packaging, but did you know that half of the rubbish that a typical household throws into the dustbin could really have been recycled? Not only that, but up to 50% could be composted instead of being dumped, and the ‘energy’ contained in the contents of an average dustbin each year could produce enough power to run a television for 5,000 hours. That’s nearly 7 months, 24 hours per day!

Can, Beer, Soft Drink, Red, Can Of Beer

Here are some more points of interest:

Drinks cans

In the UK, we produce 24 million tonnes of aluminium each year, of which 51,000 tonnes ends up being made into packaging – foil trays, drinks cans etc. A massive £36 million pounds worth of this precious material is simply discarded every year. You see drinks cans that have been thrown out of cars and discarded by the roadside nearly everywhere, heaven knows how many get put into litter bins and dustbins.

A drinks can is fully recyclable, and can be filled, emptied, recycled and back in use as a drinks can within 6 weeks! Not only that, but to make the material for a drinks can from scratch is very expensive on energy – recycling the can saves enough energy to allow you to run a TV for 3 hours.


In the UK, we use 12.5 million tonnes of cardboard and paper per year, and 1 tonne of paper consumes around 24 trees worth of wood pulp. Simple maths says that roughly 300 million trees per year are cut down and turned into paper for use in the UK. Of course, this is only an estimate, as paper comes in different thicknesses, and so do trees, but it makes you think a bit doesn’t it? If we recycled more of our paper, fewer trees would need to be felled.

With the growing popularity of online books and newspapers, the volume of paper printed will naturally decline each year, and it does bio degrade, but it still makes up quite a large proportion of landfill waste. Estimates say that in a lifetime, an average person will read and discard 38kg of newspaper. That’s a lot of litter!


This is one of the most problematic of domestic materials, as some plastics take 500 years to decompose totally. The use of plastics in the UK is growing by around 4% each year, so the problem is only going to get worse. Plastic bottles can generally be recycled, and we use 15 million of them each day, but only a proportion reach the recycling point. Each year, an average household bins 40 kg of plastics that could have gone for recycling.

The amount of rubbish we generate in the UK is enough to fill our largest lake in only 8 months. Sending stuff to landfill is not the answer; we are simply running out of land to fill! The answer is clear, recycle responsibly, and for both household and commercial waste disposal, call on the experts – the Gumamah network of approved, eco-friendly rubbish and waste clearance service.

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