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18 Recycling & Waste Facts

Did you know that…

1) The UK produces more than 100 million tonnes of waste every year. In less than two hours, the waste we produce would fill the Albert Hall in London, every eight months it would fill Lake Windermere, the largest and deepest lake in England.

2) On average, each person in the UK throws away their own body weight in rubbish every seven weeks.

3) The average household in the UK produces more than a tonne of waste every year. Put together, this comes to a total of 31 million tonnes per year, equivalent to the weight of three and a half million double-decker buses, a queue of which would go around the world two and a half times.

4) Every year we produce about 3% more waste than the year before. This might not sound much but, if we carry on at this rate, it means that we will double the amount of waste we produce every 25 years.

5) The average UK family throws away 6 trees worth of paper in their household bin a year.

6) Paper and card make up about a fifth of the typical household dustbin. About half of this consists of newspapers and magazines.

7) Two-thirds of paper is recycled, making it one of the main materials recycled in the UK.

8) Each Christmas as much as 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper ends up in UK rubbish bins, enough to cover an area larger than Guernsey.

9) It is not known how long glass takes to break down, but it is so long that glass made in the Middle East over 3,000 years ago can still be found.

10) Glass milk bottles are used an average of 13 times before recycling.

11) In 2003, the recycling of glass saved enough energy to launch ten space shuttle missions.

12) We produce and use twenty times more plastic today than we did 50 years ago.

13) Most plastic shopping bags are used only once and a plastic bag can take more than 100 years to decompose.

14) 25 two litre plastic bottles can be recycled into an adult-size fleece jacket.

15) We get through 5 billion drinks cans every year. Each one could be recycled back into a new can. Weight for weight, empty aluminium cans are worth 6 to 20 times more than any other used packaging material.
There is more than 30 million pounds worth of empty aluminium drinks cans in the UK just waiting to be collected, cashed in and recycled.

16) UK households throw away between £250 and £400 of potentially edible food every year.

17) It has been calculated that, before they are toilet trained, the average child goes through 3,796 nappies, most of which end up buried in landfill sites.

18) It has been estimated that up to 80% of the contents of our dustbins could be easily recycled, re-used or eaten.
Other countries recycle a lot more than we do in the UK. For example, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany recycle around 60% of their waste.

Food for thought!

18 recycling and waste facts that will surprise you.

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