What is Recycling?

Reduce reuse recycle

Recycling is simply giving old or used things a new lease of life, by making new things out of the old materials. Recycling is a key and third component of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” waste hierarchy – The 3R’s.  Unlike reducing or re-using, recycling involves the processing of the old or used materials. The old or used materials are broken down into their basic elements (eg. fiber in paper), which are then used as the raw materials for other fresh and new items. In turn, the recycling processes for different materials differ.

Do you know the significance of the 3 chasing arrows of the recycling symbol?

They stand for the three basic steps of recycling:


Separation and Collection,

Processing and Re-manufacturing

Buying Recycled.

Why should we Recycle?

Throwing things away is a waste of the energy and the resources taken to make the product. Reducing the number of things that need to be thrown away, reduces the amount of materials which have to be quarried and mined.  Reducing waste is an essential step in the move to a sustainable low carbon economy.

Recycling is an excellent way of saving energy and conserving the environment.

Less energy is used to produce things from recycled material than making things from scratch.

Did you know that :

  • 1 recycled tin can would save enough energy to power a TV for 3 hours
  • 1 recycled plastic bottle would save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 3 hrs
  • 70% less energy is required to recycle paper compared with making it from raw materials
  • For glass bottles, 315kg of CO2 is saved per tonne of glass recycled after taking into account the transportation and processing
  • Making bags from recycled polythene takes one third the Sulphur Dioxide and half the Nitrous Oxide, than making them from scratch

Some Interesting Facts :

  • Up to 60% of the rubbish that ends up in the dustbin could be recycled
  • The unreleased energy contained in the average dustbin each year could power a TV for 5,000hrs
  • As much as 50% of waste in the average dustbin could be composted
  • Up to 80% of a vehicle can be recycled
  • 9 out of 10 people would recycle if it were made easier


  • 275,000 tonnes of plastic are used each year in the UK – that’s about 15 million bottles per day
  • Most families throw away about 40kg of plastic per year, which could otherwise be recycled
  • The use of plastic in Western Europe is growing about 4% each year
  • Plastic can take up to 500 yrs to decompose


  • Recycled paper produces 73% less air pollution than if it was made from raw materials
  • 5 million tonnes of paper and cardboard are used annually in the UK
  • The average person in the UK gets through 38kg of newspapers per year
  • It takes 24 trees to make 1 ton of newspaper


  • 24 million tonnes of aluminium is produced annually, 51,000 tonnes of which ends up as packaging in the UK
  • If all the cans in the UK were recycled, we would need 14 million fewer dustbins
  • £36,000,000 worth of aluminium is thrown away each year
  • Aluminium cans can be recycled and ready to use in just 6 weeks
  • Making Aluminium cans from old ones uses one twelfth of the energy to make them from raw materials

This chart shows the breakdown of UK Waste.  Have a look at https://www.recycling-guide.org.uk/ and other pages on the hn-lc website for ideas that you could use to reduce your household waste.

Household Waste Chart

Food waste recycling: what to do with the food you can’t eat.

Not all food can be eaten unfortunately: there will always be peelings, bones, egg shells etc. So what’s the best thing to do?

Food Waste

The best thing we can do is make the most of the food and drink we buy rather than throwing it away – it’s best financially and environmentally. Just think about all the energy, water and packaging used in food production, transportation and storage. This all goes to waste when we throw away perfectly good food and here’s whyBut what to do if you do have food that can’t be eaten or stored for later?

Composting at home is an inexpensive, natural process that transforms your kitchen and garden waste into a valuable and nutrient rich food for your garden. Everything from vegetable and fruit peelings to teabags, toilet roll tubes, cereal boxes and eggshells can be composted. Take care not to compost cooked food, meat or fish though. Did you know, composting at home for just one year can save global warming gases equivalent to all the CO2 your kettle produces annually, or your washing machine produces in three months?

We’re often asked “Why do I need to not waste my food/compost/recycle when my waste will break down in landfill anyway?” Good question! When waste is sent to landfill, air cannot get to the organic waste. Therefore as the waste breaks down it creates a harmful greenhouse gas, methane, which damages the Earth’s atmosphere.

However, when this same waste is composted above ground at home, oxygen helps the waste to decompose aerobically which means hardly any methane is produced, which is good news for the planet. And what’s more, after nine to twelve months, you get a free fertiliser for your garden and plant pots to keep them looking beautiful.

If you don’t have a garden or don’t want to compost then use your brown bin.   The fortnightly collections will allow you to recycle your cooked and raw food scraps which will then go off to be commercially composted at a local facility. There are two ways is can be recycled.

  • The first, In-vessel composting,involves mixing food waste with garden waste, shredding it and composting it in a tunnel or container for around two to four weeks. Temperatures of up to 70 degrees C speed up the process and kill any harmful microbes. It is then left for a further 1-3 months with regular turning and checks to ensure quality, before going on to be used as soil conditioner.
  • The second method, Anaerobic Digestion, uses micro-organisms called ‘methanogens’ to break down food waste, animal manures and energy crops in the absence of oxygen, inside an enclosed tank. As it breaks down, it gives off ‘bio-gas’ that is collected and used to generate electricity, heat or transport fuels. It also creates biofertiliser, which can be used in farming and land regeneration.

Check the Cherwell District Council website for up to date information on waste recycling :

Cherwell District Council waste recycling