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Imagine all the potentially useful reusable stuff that's been buried over the decades. Landfill also pollutes soil and water by leaching noxious and toxic liquids over time.Landfill also releases greenhouse gases, like methane, into the atmosphere. Incineration, burning our rubbish, is extremely wasteful of valuable resources that could be reused or recycled.
We hope the government plan for a bottle and can deposit return scheme will dramatically increase recycling rates in the UK, as it has in other countries.
The plastic bottle recycling rate is about 45% here right now, as against 90 % in the likes of Germany and Sweden. (Exact figures vary a bit, depending on how recycling is measured and reported.) The truth is we all need to get into the habit of using less stuff in the first place.
To generate the textile from scratch would mean harvesting the cotton or linen crop, or manufacturing the synthetic fabric.
But if the same company uses recycled textiles it can cut out that first step of the manufacturing process, saving energy as a result.
The UK's overall recycling rates for everyday waste are still below the EU target of 50%. And the things we do use ought to be reused as much as possible before being recycled, to minimise waste.
Alongside reducing and reusing, recycling is essential for the future of our planet. The world's natural resources are finite, and some are in very short supply.
Rivers can be damned, or polluted by manufacturing waste, which harms local people.
Far better to recycle existing products than to damage someone else's community or land in the search for new raw materials.
Recycling food waste and green waste is a great idea too, often generating lots of valuable compost that can be used to grow more food and other crops.
A new deposit return scheme being introduced for cans or bottles could offer an added financial incentive to recycle – because you'll lose your deposit if you don't.