Reuse, recycle, compost, upcycle repurpose – so many options

James Johnson, consultant at Russell Partnership, explains what happens to your plastic and paper waste

There are many choices to be made when disposing of our household and food waste. Blue, green, black, grey and red bins are all there for you – take your pick. But which is the right option, which waste stream is better for the environment and what actually happens to my plastic milk bottles and piles of paper bills, bank statements and circulars?

In the best case, your plastic shampoo and milk bottles will be cleaned and either shredded into flakes or melt-processed to form pellets (remember to take the tops off, these are often made from a different plastic, so should be sorted separately). These pellets can then be moulded into new products such as water bottles.

With cardboard and paper, there are options: you can recycle or compost. And either one is preferable to contributing to landfill waste, but which option is best for the environment?

Well, recycle your council tax bill, and you then reintroduce it into the manufacturing system and eliminate the need to cut down virgin trees to produce your printer paper. It’s a resource-intensive job, turning trees into fresh reams of pure white paper; you can easily use 10 litres of precious water to produce a single sheet of A4.

Composting your mobile phone account will also keep it from the dreaded landfill and eliminate resources required to break it down and manufacture it back into shiny new paper; however, the raw material has to come from somewhere, so making paper from scratch all over again increases the need to cut down more forests – so sort and recycle your paper, and keep the composting bucket for your all your veggie peelings and food scraps.

If you’d like to chat more, you can find us on LinkedIn at Russell Partnership Collection or

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