With more European governments driving recycling initiatives, it is becoming easier for everyone to recycle. Learn new and easy ways to dispose of waste as well as how to choose products and packaging that have less of an impact on the environment.
- Bring used glass to the bottle bank and sort paper and cardboard, plastics and cans from the rest of your waste. Recycling one aluminium can saves 90% of the energy needed to produce a new one - 9kg of CO2 emissions per kilogramme of aluminium! For 1kg of recycled plastics, the saving is 1.5kg of CO2; for 1kg of recycled glass, it is 300gr of CO2; and recycling 1kg of paper instead of landfilling it avoids 900gr of CO2 emissions as well as methane emissions.
- Reduce waste. Most products we buy cause greenhouse gas emissions in one or another way, e.g. during production and distribution. By taking your lunch in a reusable lunch box instead of a disposable one, you save the energy needed to produce new lunch boxes.
- Reuse your shopping bag. When shopping, it saves energy and waste to use a reusable bag instead of accepting a disposable one in each shop. Waste not only discharges CO2 and methane into the atmosphere, it can also pollute the air, groundwater and soil.
One bottle of 1.5l requires less energy and produces less waste than three bottles of 0.5l.
- Choose products that come with little packaging and buy refills when you can - you will also cut down on waste production and energy use!
- Buy intelligently: one bottle of 1.5l requires less energy and produces less waste than three bottles of 0.5l.
- Recycle your organic waste. Landfills account for around 3% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions through the methane released by decomposing bio-degradable waste. By recycling organic waste or composting it if you have a garden, you can help eliminate this problem! Just make sure that you compost it properly, so it decomposes with sufficient oxygen, otherwise your compost will cause methane emissions and smell foul.
- Print less!
At the office, encourage your colleagues to re-use the other side of paper and print less by archiving their emails and attachments. You can also try and create paperless habits. Some studies show that office paper consumption is rising by 20 % per year and web-based technology is actually increasing the printing of documents. On average each worker uses about 50 sheets of A4 per day. Must you print?
- Get a mug!
Invest in your own office coffee mug instead of using disposable plastic or paper cups. If you drink two coffees a day, you would be saving approximately 400 plastic cups in one year.
- Buy a ‘recyclable’ Christmas tree!
If you buy a Christmas tree, buy one with roots so that you can keep it watered. When Christmas is over you can plant it in the garden. If you buy a cut tree, recycle it by having it collected by your local authorities.
- Say no to paper towels!
A mop or sponge will do an even better job at cleaning up a spill so why waste paper? Reduce your waste and you'll help trees.
- Say no to plastic or paper bags!
The plastic bags you use but for a few minutes can last for as long as 15 to 1,000 years in the environment. Don't get a new plastic bag each time you go shopping. Get a funky re-useable or cotton bag instead and say 'no thanks' to plastic or paper bags.
- Don’t litter!
Avoid disposing any waste on the streets, in nature, and especially not in the gutter. This rubbish can end up in the water treatment system and overcharge the decontamination process. Take advantage of city waste baskets. They are everywhere and that's what they are for.
- Need new glasses?
Around 10 million pairs of usable spectacles are discarded each year in Europe and North America. These can be used to help people in the developing world to afford glasses. Most opticians now act as collection points for old glasses, so drop yours off and give them a new lease on life.
- When the time comes to change your car battery, recycle your old one.
Check with your local authorities for their advice as they might recommend that you take it to a special disposal site, or to a garage which collects them for recycling and proper disposal.
- Donate your old clothes to charities or collection programmes.
Your old wardrobe will be given a second life as either second-hand clothes or shredded and recycled as raw material for textiles and packaging. This will save precious energy and our scarce natural resources.
- Dispose with care!
Take your electronic waste to a local collection point or give it back to the retailer so that it can be treated or recycled properly. Electronic and electric appliances contain many toxic substances. Since mid 2005, all European Member States are obliged to set up take-back systems for this waste.
- Re-use paper!
Instead of using a fresh piece of paper for rough work, turn over a used copy and write on the other side. Use products made of recycled paper. Remember! Every ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees compared to paper made from virgin materials.
Try our Carbon Calculator to see how you can make a difference and make a pledge.