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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Do you recycle household waste?
Two men loading rubbish into a local dump in London, England
How much of your household waste do you recycle? Could you reuse more?

Nearly two-thirds of all household waste in the UK could be recycled, but only a quarter actually is, according to new figures released at the start of a week-long "big recycle" campaign.

Environmentalists welcomed the news that Briton's recycling habits had improved by 11% over the last year, but said that even more could be done.

Do you think the UK's waste mountain could be reduced? What more could be done? Could the UK learn from other countries?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

This topic was suggested by Anne, UK
How should we tackle the problems of increasing household waste?

What can be done to make managing agents or landlords of blocks of flats provide their residents with facilities for recycling? Our block does and the Council collect communal recycling from all 46 flats why can't all landlords be forced to do the same?
Bob Smytherman, Worthing

I live and work in Germany. From my impression of German cities, more people live in apartment blocks than do in the UK, this makes waste recycling easier to operate. Outside the six blocks of flats here in Erlangen, Germany, are 18 waste bins clearly marked, as well as 6 bottle stores, all next to the residents' car park. The next nearest waste area/car park is 200 metres away, what could possibly be simpler for the public? One central waste point, one central pick-up point, no wheelie bins, no waiting for the waste wagon to come. Here they even take cardboard in one specially marked bin. The supermarket mall has a returned bottle store that accepts all glass bottles and pays you for them.
Anon, Germany

I've been recycling for many years now. Our local council has an excellent recycling scheme in place which takes nearly all recyclable materials including most plastics. I find the process of sorting out rubbish both quick, easy and also therapeutic. It can also be made fun for children.
John Alcott, Brighton

We need a packaging tax with those items that are not biodegradable being taxed at a higher rate
Alan, UK
I believe we are at a point were taxation will facilitate a change in business practice, we need a packaging tax with those items that are not biodegradable being taxed at a higher rate than those that are biodegradable. The only way to make changes in a society like ours is to hit people in the pocket it is quite sad really.
Alan, UK

Re. recycling people should come to Wiltshire. I think that our council, West Wilts District Council must deserve an award for recycling schemes. We can recycle just everything you can think of. We have; grey bins for household waste Green bins for garden waste. Black bins for kerbside collection. But best of all we have a centre, where you can take every from fridges to wood to stones to earth to oil to paint to electrical goods to computers - just everything. They also shred garden waste and resell it as mulch. All this has cut dumping and bonfires. Perhaps other councils should visit out area to see for them selves.
Angela Curtis, Trowbridge, Wiltshire

I don't recycle much because man made climate change is an unsubstantiated myth. What I do, to help the environment, is dispose of things which actually harm the environment (such as used engine oil, coolant etc) at recycling centres. A few bits of paper or glass turned into... whatever, really doesn't help the environment. More CO2 would be removed form the air if people didn't fly to all these environmental conferences all the time.
Stew, London

I do for one simple reason - the local council have worked hard to make it as easy as possible. I now recycle more than I throw away. I have a blue top wheelie bin that takes paper, card, cans, plastic bottles/containers. The rest I can take to the local tip where they have recycling for glass/wood/clothes/batteries/hardcore/garden waste/oil/shoes/metal/furniture, its so easy. What's more is they have even now done away with you having to separate glass bottles by colour and you can just dump them in the same place. That is how you get people to recycle.
Steve, Weybridge, Surrey

I couldn't care less about recycling. If the council (who have the statutory obligation to recycle) wants to do so then they should feel free to do it. I pay them enough in council tax so why can't they employ people to sort the recyclables out at the transfer stations? If they want me to do their job for them I'll happily do so and send them an invoice. Until then, it all goes in the same bin.
Kevin Bennett, Newton Abbot, UK

In our village, we have a recycling area at our local pub! it's walkable for most,(thankfully..) so no excuses. It takes papers, bottles and cans/tins. Unfortunately it doesn't take plastic. Instead, I save up and pass on to my Mum, 20miles away, for her to take to her local plastic recycling point, another 10 or so miles away... Probably defeats the object of saving the environment when I have to drive it so far!
Karen, Herts, UK

I think you're all missing the point here. Responsibility for most of the "waste" that goes into landfill should be given to the "waste" producers - the manufacturers and retailers who use excess packaging to sell their products. They should be forced by law to take back the packaging and to use re-useable packaging. Most of our household waste is packaging the by-products of living eg food scraps can be much more easily recycled.
Dave Smith, UK

Sheer lunacy. My wife unloaded the shopping from the car and I looked at it carefully. Half the items were in plastic bags and boxes, which were themselves placed into plastic bags, that lot was then placed in a plastic carry-all my wife takes with her each week, the carry-all went into a wheeled shopping carrier. Start at the beginning, get rid of some of the rubbish at the point of sale. The net outcome was over 20 items of waste, most of it plastic or polystyrene, a good proportion of which the supermarket could and should dispose of, what I call unnecessary wrapping or boxing.
frustrated shopper,

If the councils put more effort in so would I
Matt Evans, Ashford, Middx
I would do if my local council made regular collections. They instigated the collections recently, with fortnightly collections, then they had a month's break, then a collection a fortnight later and then another month long break before the next collection. My house started to look like a tip. If the councils put more effort in so would I.
Matt Evans, Ashford, Middx

Since moving in with my 'non-green' boyfriend, he puts out less than half the amount of rubbish that he used to when he lived alone. We still can't recycle plastics, though, so I avoid buying anything which comes in lots of pointless plastic packaging. I've badgered all the main supermarkets on this, to no avail.
Sue Lee, UK

It's all well and good patting ourselves on the back about recycling, but we should also be focussing our energies on reducing waste at source. Rather than recycling all your junk mail, why not just register (for free) with the Mailing Preference Service and avoid getting it to start with?
Phil, Watford

I used to live in Germany and recycling there is so easy. Just throw it in the right bin and it gets taken away. I recycle here as well, taking plastic bottles, glass, tins and paper to the supermarket whenever I do a shop. I have to say though that it's time recycling was made easier in this country - every household should have separate bins for recycled waste which are collected more often than those for ordinary waste. If it were easier to recycle, I'm sure most people would soon get into the habit.
Helen, London, UK

There wouldn't be such a need for recycling if there wasn't so much junk mail, packaging etc. So many things have useless bits of plastic attached to them. Worst offenders in my opinion are those stupid thimble-sized containers of milk in some cafes/restaurants. I need at least 3 for my tea and one little paper packet containing ONE sweetener -aaargh!
Moira, Birmingham UK

I work for a multinational company and we have the target that we will be recycling 95% of our office waste by 2006 we are already at 60%. I think one of things that could be done would to be able to send back packaging like polystyrene and large boxes back to companies to reuse.
Cat, Cambridge UK

When I recently bought a box of sweets I found that each sweet was wrapped in foil and then in plastic. The sweets were in a plastic bag which was inside a box, and the box was shrink-wrapped. Naturally I was given a carrier bag to hold my box of sweets, and the receipt which listed who had served me, their manager and the store's refund policy was over six inches long. Perhaps the level of recycling isn't the biggest problem - if we weren't producing so much waste it wouldn't be an issue whether we recycled it or not.
Nige, England

I emigrated from Ireland to Britain three years ago, and I have to say, was shocked by the levels of waste and how it's processed. Despite initial resistance (mainly because of the usual fear of change), recycling in Ireland has become a major success story, and the result is not just positive for households, but for the local environment in general. Every time I go back to Galway, I'm struck by how clean it is compared to most places I've been in the UK. All that needs to change over here is people's attitudes. The rest follows naturally.
Frank, Overtown, Scotland

We have to take our general waste to the local tip
Billy, Herne Bay
Canterbury City Council recently took away one of our two wheely bins. We now have one bin collected every fortnight - for a household of SIX people! We support recycling, the council collects plastic sacks of recyclables every other week (replacing a wheelie bin collection) but now we have to take our general waste to the local tip. This is going too far!
Billy, Herne Bay

We are given blue plastic bags to recycle paper. Every windy day after the bags are emptied and thrown back into our gardens by council workers the streets, fields and trees are full of blue plastic bags.
Albert, Edinburgh

I recycle everything I can, and am really pleased to be given the opportunity of doing it at home. I have a black bin for non recyclable rubbish, a green one for garden waste (although I compost as much as I can), and glass, paper, plastic bottles etc go in a green bin bag(s). It's fantastic! Well done Cardiff City Council for enabling me to do this.
Rebecca, Cardiff

You are criticising Brits for not recycling enough "household" waste. You should be lobbying the government to force industry to use re-useable packaging and to make retailers take back all the packaging that surrounds the articles which they market.
Alan Davis, Chester UK

I live in a block of flats in Leeds, and the council here does not provide recycle facilities for the block. And it doesn't make sense driving 3 miles to a recycle centre as I'd cause more damage to the environment through pollution than I would by recycling.

There are no facilities near me for any kind of recycling
Jill, Scotland
I'd love to recycle but I live in a flat and don't even have a wheelie bin! There are no facilities near me for any kind of recycling either and since I don't have a car I can't get to them. I can only give away old clothes etc to charity shops because they are within walking distance. How can people like me do anything when there aren't any facilities near us?
Jill, Scotland

It's high time the UK adopted a strong pro-recycling stance, such as the one I witnessed in Zurich, Switzerland. Recycling collections are free and take place the day before waste collection. Waste may only be disposed of in official bin bags costing somewhere in the region of 10 a roll. Reduce council tax by 10 a month and charge people on the amount of waste they don't recycle.
Dave, Nottingham, UK

I recycle paper, cardboard, glass, cans and plastic, but the council isn't collecting it regularly enough. Every time I take all my recyclable waste, the bins are overflowing. The onus is definitely on the council to encourage people by - at the very least - taking away the waste!
Tanya, Surrey

We try to recycle as much as possible (we put out about half a small wheelie bin-full each week for four of us on dustbin day) but it is rather dispiriting to note that this debate has been going on for decades. I worked on a Friends of the Earth recycling scheme in Bristol 20 years ago and we discussed the same issues! Time for some joined-up thinking.
Anon, Bracknell, UK

South Oxfordshire District Council are excellent in this regard - they collect paper/cardboard, plastic, tin cans and glass from the front gate. Garden rubbish goes onto the compost heap and provides a habitat for the Slow Worms. At work we recycle paper, printer cartridges etc but we can't do much more because our office landlords refuse to provide even the most basic recycling facilities. Very frustrating.
John, England

We're trying! Our council has implemented a recycle or fine policy of which I fully approve. They removed our wheelie bins totally, and then refused us the recycle boxes because 'as a flat we don't qualify'. So, no bins, no room, rubbish stored on balcony and driven to skip every couple of days. And now I've given up trying because I watch the bin-folk chuck the vast majority (80 - 90%) directly into the main compactor!
Cat, Finchley, London

Surely the built up areas should be more targeted for recycling
Ian P, Sandwell, UK
I moved from Shropshire about a year and a half ago, with a distinct recycling ethos - glass, paper, cardboard, metals, veg waste... The council provided specific containers for types of rubbish and did roadside collections where appropriate. I now live in Sandwell in the West Midlands. I pay for my own bin bags, the nearest recycling facilities are a skip labelled "newspapers only" and a bottle bank on a pub car park. The nearest tip/collection site is the other side of the district and impossible to get to without a car and a major journey. More people live in conurbations than country towns and villages. Surely the built up areas should be more targeted for recycling, not less?
Ian P, Sandwell, UK

I recycle virtually everything, but my life would be made a lot easier if the council didn't constantly change its collection method. I think it was easier taking it to the recycling centre myself than changing from a blue box to a white bag, back to a blue box and then a green bin.... and the list goes on.
Jane, Lancashire

Recycling and reducing waste does not seem that hard to me. I have a recycling bag next to my rubbish bin, and all the recyclables go into that. At work, I print onto the back of other people's waste paper, so I use very little paper myself. I buy as many consumer items from eBay as I can, which saves me a lot of money. If I ever read the Metro, I read someone else's copy. I never take carrier bags in the shops. It is pretty easy - I believe people just need to start thinking about it and stop blaming someone else.
Daniel Conway, London, UK

We recycle cans, paper and plastic through a city, fortnightly pick up scheme which is pretty well used by residents. They don't take glass so we make separate trips to bottle banks for those. It annoys me when people don't make use of the home pick-ups because it is so easy and free to use.
Liz, Portsmouth

My parents in Rotherham have got a blue box for glass and tins, a blue bag for paper and a green bin for card and grass. This should be extended everywhere as it is an effortless way to recycle, and it's kept outdoors. Also - supermarkets could cut down card waste with the 4 or 6-packs of food/cans, wrapped in card. Why can't they just offer the discount if you buy that amount of single tins? It'll cut my rubbish at home too!
Paul O, Halifax, UK

We all have a duty to recycle our rubbish
Darren Laker, Nr Exeter, England
I believe we all have a duty to recycle our rubbish. We are part of the four bin recycling scheme in Devon and it has dramatically cut the landfill wastage. However, manufacturers also have a duty and it is interesting to see that most of what is now thrown away for landfill is the excessive plastic/wrappings that all goods appear to be sold in. There is no need for all of this waste and it is the manufacturers who must also make changes - despite how inconvenient or expensive it is. The world belongs to us all - not just those at the top who take it for a few extra pounds/dollars etc.
Darren Laker, Nr Exeter, England

We recycle everything we can. Luckily our council collects the usual glass, tin cans, paper and textiles and everything else we take to the recycling centre. I'd really like to see every council collecting cardboard - when we started recycling this I was amazed to see just how much we accumulated in a week. It would be great if councils did more - but at the same time I don't think people should use this as an excuse. Recycling hardly takes any effort, and frankly not recycling is downright lazy.

Here in Holland we still have to pay a deposit of 25 cents on larger plastic drink bottles, and most glass ones. The deposit is always paid and reclaimed in the supermarket, and is a very good way to ensure recycling. We also have four separate places to deposit our household waste just steps from our home, as does everyone, which are split into glass, paper, food waste and other waste, the underground collection bins are emptied twice a week to ensure there is always space. In some parts of the country environment police even check refuse left for collection to ensure the separation rules are not broken, with fines being issued as appropriate! Living here for nearly six years has taught me a lot about recycling and efficient waste disposal, and I'm sometimes quite surprised that the UK lags so far behind in this.
Jennifer, Netherlands, ex-UK

Now I have my green box, I always recycle. But this is nothing compared to when I lived in Sweden, where people recycle batteries, plastic containers and vegetable peelings as well as the more obvious glass and paper. Let's go the whole hog and recycle everything!
John B, Gloucester, UK

If a few lazy people made a bit of effort, landfill could be vastly reduced
Mirabelle, Aston, UK
If a few lazy people made a bit of effort, landfill could be vastly reduced. I compost garden waste and recycle cans and glass - not paper because that would require a special trip (the rest can be done on foot). I put out one bin-bag a week, often less than full. A few doors down, they put out three or four bags, and often a box or two as well. I mentioned this at work a few weeks back and another colleague said he fills a bin bag in a weekend with cans, bottles and take-away wrappings. Perhaps if we thought more about what we eat, as well as what we do with the debris, we'd all be healthier AND the planet would be better off.
Mirabelle, Aston, UK

Here in Barnsley we have a grey bin, a green bin, a small green bin and a blue sack. The council has cut down 'grey bin' general waste collections to once a fortnight, and is heavily promoting its (permit only for trailers) household recycling sites. We're also to be fined if we get things wrong. So the onus is shifting onto the householder - no bad thing. I'm all for a responsible strategy for recycling, but raise two points; firstly, when do we get a community charge rebate for a lesser service, and secondly, where are those with small gardens supposed to put all these containers? Seems like we used to have waste collection sites in the community - now they're in our back gardens!
Tim, Barnsley

I am astonished that people have the time to segregate rubbish; wash bottles etc. Its as much as I can do to get the bin to the kerbside on the appointed day; alright, the grass clippings and newspapers go in the green bin but quite frankly that's about it.
David, London, UK

I recycle as much as possible. The people I live with don't even crush down large 5 litre plastic bottles of milk before throwing them away. I have to do it for them. It seems to be one of the biggest questions. How do you make people care about something that requires a tiny bit of effort and doesn't immediately affect them? If someone can answer that question, they'll be able to save the planet.
Sergio, Bristol UK

My local council (Merton) could certainly do more. They have recently started a recycle from home scheme in which you put various things in coloured boxes. But their cardboard recycling is somewhat let down by their rule that they will only accept small items of cardboard. So a cereal packet is OK, but a box that used to contain 12 wine bottles has to go with the non-recyclable rubbish. I can't help thinking this isn't the best way of increasing recycling.
Adam, London, UK

The biggest problem is the lack of places to take recyclable materials. We recycle as much as we can, including having a compost heap, but struggle with items that cannot go in our silver bin. I know lots of people who also try their best but are as frustrated as me that the bins for glass, clothes, carrier bags, etc. are often overflowing as they aren't emptied frequently enough. If the people who already recycle regularly start doing less what chance have we of getting others to do so?
Mike W, Newark, UK

If we fail to address our culture of consumption then recycling materials such as paper and glass can only go so far
Alice, Winchester, UK
If we fail to address our culture of consumption then recycling materials such as paper and glass can only go so far. After all, recycling requires energy and money, and the recycled products will eventually be discarded too. Also, whilst the recycling rate may be increasing in some areas, so too is the overall level of waste. Ultimately, it is thoughtless consumers who are at fault, since it is they who spend their money without regard to the future of our planet.
Alice, Winchester, UK

We in Isle of Purbeck are in the process of being issues with wheelie bins so we can switch over to a fortnightly collection, one week recyclables the next general rubbish. This can really only be a good idea, ok so I have to spend a little time putting things in different containers, not much of a sacrifice really if there is a long term benefit for the environment. We are a long way behind many countries on this issue when we should be leading the way.
Greg, Wareham ,Dorset

I have been making my own compost for years by storing leftovers from meals and vegetable cuttings in my bath before using them on the garden. We should all get back to nature by doing our part.
Lee Wilson, London UK

If given a roadside collection, most people will dump recyclables in it. However, the bigger issue is what you can't put in these boxes - in my area, plastics and cardboard won't be taken. I face a trip to the local authority area (on my bike!) to drop off my plastic and card - but even then, they will only take plastic bottles, not packaging or plastic tubs. It's all very well saying that we should recycle more, but it is made as difficult as possible to recycle anything other than paper!

I work for the local council, who have only just introduced wheelie bins. As part of the new scheme they will only take what is in the wheelie bin, to try to get people to reduce the amount they throw away and use their Green Box (recycles paper, tin etc) more. Just yesterday I saw a wheelie bin out, along with around 10 extra bags, some of which were open revealing masses of newspaper and envelopes. A lot of people simply cannot be bothered to recycle, preferring just to ignore the problems and hope they will disappear along with their extra rubbish.
Rebecca, UK

I would happily recycle more - but the list of things we can't put in is fairly exhaustive (envelopes, plastics except drinks bottle, broken goes on). Plus the garden waste recycling bin is too small and collected too infrequently. it is going to take me months to dispose of the cuttings from my hedge...
Jon, MK, UK

Litter bins in the street had separate sections for glass and drinks cans
Julia Hayward, St Neots, UK
When I was in the US twenty years ago, litter bins in the street had separate sections for glass and drinks cans. That idea still doesn't seem to have made it across to us...
Julia Hayward, St Neots, UK

If the Government is serious they should give the money to local councils to provide regular recycling services.
Paul Collier, London UK

We cannot continue to dispose of our household waste through landfill sites unabated, incineration is not an option readily available and most people do not want incineration plants close to populated areas. Local authorities urgently need to invest in easy to use waste management programs which can be easily enforced if necessary. Every single person has responsibility for recycling household waste its not too difficult to put into practice main the problem is twofold, infrastructure and mindset.
Eddie Espie, Cookstown

Local Authority collection of recyclable waste separate from "residual" rubbish has made everyday recycling much easier. Producers also need to address the problem - most items are quite unnecessarily packaged - presumably for marketing reasons. There should be a serious campaign to reduce packaging to one layer only in all cases. There is also still far too much junk mail about - and it is unbelievable that the Royal Mail, a public service, actually encourages this by giving preferential postage rates to bulk mailers.
Edwood, Malvern UK

I believe everyone should sort their rubbish. I know it is a job I enjoy as I believe my small efforts are making a difference.
Lee Wilson, London UK

I think a lot of the problem comes from sheer laziness
Ross, UK
I think a lot of the problem comes from sheer laziness - some people simply can't be bothered. We have two recycle boxes that are collected every week; one for glass, the other for plastics and paper. So if your local council provide the service, then there really isn't any excuse.
Ross, UK

Why do we try and do more. Instead of worrying about waste why not spend more time enjoying life and doing the worthwhile thing. Twenty years ago recycling wasn't an issue, why is it now?
Charles, Coventry

Our council surveyed people asking if we would be happy to pay and extra 50p per month for increased recycling collections. Funnily enough, most people said yes. We currently have a collection every two weeks for paper, cardboard and metal cans. In our house, we take glass and clothes / shoes to our local recycling bins. Soon we will be able to recycle glass in the council boxes and will have bags for paper and garden / kitchen waste collection.
Allie, Essex

At my last address there was a bottle bank, can bank and paper deposit within walking distance and used to recycle as much as possible. But since I've moved there is no such provision and I don't have a car. Carrying armfuls of bottles, cans and paper a couple of miles is just not practical. Give people the means to recycle (i.e. a specific day when recyclable waste will be picked up like the normal rubbish) and people do it. Make it difficult and they don't.
Mark Malik, Teesside, UK

I am a keen recycler. I recycle all paper, glass and aluminium cans, carrier bags, and I have a composter for garden green waste and food scraps. What really frustrates me is that I have no local facilities for plastic recycling, as this forms the bulk of nearly all of the rubbish that I throw out. If I could recycle plastic bottles and packaging, I would only have to put out 1 bag of rubbish per week for refuse collection. Not bad for a family of four.
Leon Cook, Birmingham, UK

We do try to recycle but it is not made easy for us at all. Where we love in Leigh, Lancs, there are no collections at all for anything other than rubbish. We collect bottles and take them to the bottle bank when we go to the supermarket but there are just no facilities for other recyclable waste. I sometimes even save up plastic to take down to Ipswich where my parents live and where there are great recycling facilities. Part of the problem is that councils are given targets to increase by a certain amount rather than to reach a level of recycling. This means that councils that have good recycling records have to do more and more while those with bad records only have to recycle a small amount of rubbish to reach their targets.
Kate, Manchester, UK

In order for it to make any difference, it needs to be made far easier for people. We have a "green" bin which is tiny, and fills quickly. Why can't the local Council employ people to filter the rubbish as it comes in? It would create a lot of jobs, create a better environment and also pay for itself by selling on the recyclable materials!
Jon, Manchester

Our council - Weymouth and Portland Borough Council - provides us with boxes and sacks and every two weeks comes to collect plastic bottles, tins, paper and soft cardboard. We recycle glass ourselves and vegetable waste either goes into the compost heap or is fed to the rabbit. It's easy to do, takes hardly any time and it's good to feel that we are doing something to help the planet. I don't understand why more people don't do the same.
Ruth, Weymouth, UK

I don't want multiple bins in front of my house cluttering my property
John B, UK

My council gives me a green box to recycle paper but they don't take card. In theory I can put glass in the box as well but they only collect it every two weeks and it's usually full of junk mail and free newspapers by then without adding glass too. I don't want multiple bins in front of my house cluttering my property so until it is easier to recycle glass and metal I'll just leave it in the bin.

Driving to the recycling plant doesn't make sense because it just means I use up petrol and pollute that way instead. On another note why aren't more efforts made to reuse? Unigate did it successfully for years - simply return glass bottles to be sterilised and refilled.
John B, UK

We try to do as much recycling as we can and I'm pleased to say that our local council is about to introduce green bins for garden waste and boxes for paper waste and cans. We do our bit in taking bottles to the local bottle bank and recycling our newspapers and cans as there are recycling bins at the large supermarket we go to.

There is also a council waste tip that we take things to but it's rather confusing as to what they'll take and what they won't allow us to dump there. Sometimes we have to pay the council 10 to take things away because we can't find anywhere to recycle them - they also appear to have no facilities to recycle mobile phones and computer equipment.
Sionell, UK

We used to have a green recycling wheelie bin and a black regular wheelie bin, then we moved into a different council area and the only recycling that they collect are newspapers, and they don't even provide wheelie bins, just plastic bags. until we have a universal decision by councils to provide a decent option for recycling we are not going to have the chance to be a greener nation.
Naomi, Surrey

In Ireland, you have to pay per rubbish bag collected which would help to reduce the amount of waste collected. However, anything that does not need to be bagged up usually gets burned, so I am not sure how environmentally friendly that is! I would be more prepared to recycle if the councils were to provide appropriate collection facilities. For example, a recycling lorry comes round each week, but will only accept glass! What is supposed to happen to cardboard, garden cuttings, etc?
Paul, Bristol, UK

Yes, we recycle around 90% of our waste. We usually end up just putting out one black bag of non-recyclable waste a week from a four person family.
Neil, Stevenage

People, companies and local authorities will only take up recycling seriously when the cost of recycling works out cheaper than making from new.
Martin, Northern England

We recycle paper and glass, and compost garden and vegetable waste. This is helped by having a collection come round for the paper and glass. Our waste has halved since starting this. Our major areas to improve now would be plastic, though we reuse carrier bags.
Alex, Cambridge

Given that people think with their wallets, this gives people the necessary motivation for recycling
Michael, Penshurst

In Switzerland each district council charges a fee per bag of rubbish. You have to pay up front and can only put official bags out for collection. Anyone not complying is charged a whacking great big fine. You take your recycling to the local recycling centre (which is kept scrupulously clean and is free), so the more you recycle the less you pay. Given that people think with their wallets, this gives people the necessary motivation for recycling.
Michael, Penshurst, UK

Yes and no. I do not use the brown bucket (for garden waste) provided by the council as it stinks to high heaven during the summer. Instead, I bag the rubbish in reusable bags and take it to the local recycling centre. I would use the brown bucket if it were emptied every fortnight rather than monthly.
Darren Drummond, Whitburn, West Lothian

Here in Melton, we recycle glass, some plastics, foil, steel and aluminium cans, green waste, clothing, paper and cardboard. We have two boxes and two wheelie bins, for different types of waste. It means we have to do some sorting of our waste into the various categories, and have to put the various boxes and bins out for collection, but the result is a recycling rate of around 50%. This shows what can be done if the council and the residents are prepared to make the effort.
Neil Tonks, Melton Mowbray, England

We recycle everything we can - glass, plastic, paper, tins and cans. Food waste etc is composted. Our children have grown up learning to recycle and it comes naturally to them - my eight-year-old gave me a right ticking off when I put a can in the bin without thinking! We need to teach our children that it is not okay to dump what we want where we want. Let this be the end of the throw-away generations.
Jack and Clare Borias, Brighton, UK

More should be done to encourage companies and offices to recycle waste. Having worked several places in the past few years, I've noticed recycling to be well done in some places but bad in others.
Marc Johnson, London, UK

Since our council started a recycling scheme I now recycle about half of my rubbish. It is amazing how much can be recycled now, although I would prefer to lower the amount of waste in the first place.
Ian, Chatham, UK

I am already a keen recycler, separating papers, glass, plastics. Local government could certainly expand their recycling services. Another thing they could do is limit the number of bags they collect from each household, forcing people to use their recycling boxes.
Paul Collier, London, UK

Our council has just started kerbside recycling, which is great. What would be even better though is if it allowed us to recycle all recyclable plastics rather than just milk and detergent bottles. Unless they do this, the majority of my recyclable plastic waste will still go in the normal bin.
BG, W Lothian, Scotland

We recycle as much as we can, but for plastic packaging there's no alternative to binning it. Packaging needs to be drastically reduced or to made from recyclable materials.
Brian W, Chelmsford, England

If I was given the facilities to enable me to recycle my waste (wheelie-bins) then I wouldn't have a problem doing it. At the moment, we still use the black bin bags supplied by our refuse collectors. Most people are too busy to sort out their waste and take it to the local recycling centres. Give me some wheelies and I will happily contribute!
Jayne Beaumont, Blackpool, UK

Most people I know can even manage to recycle glass. Personally we should have to pay for collection on items that we don't recycle, of course, for a reduction in council tax as a reward.
Nick, Salisbury

Retailers could make a huge difference by reducing the amount of packaging on goods in the first place. Councils need to increase the level and type of kerbside recycling, and to have everything at one site for other recycling.
Sue, Swansea, UK


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