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We must remember that recycling should be our third option after reducing the amount of stuff we bring into our homes and then trying to reuse it in some other way before thinking of salving our consciences by dropping it into the recycling bin. We all know there's nothing like unburdening yourself of a load of bottles and packaging at the bring bank, and then going home with a warm feeling of virtue. Although the amount we are recycling in Northern Ireland has increased over the years, there are still a lot of people who don’t bother to recycle at all and end up sending most recyclable household waste to landfill. We could be composting more of our organic matter, and making more of an effort to keep paper, metals and textiles from being sent to landfill.

Did you know:

  • 80% of the contents of your bin can be recycled.
  • Recycling one glass jar saves enough energy to light a light bulb for 4 hours.
  • Every 2 seconds, an area of ancient forest the size of nearly two conventional soccer fields is destroyed so recycling our paper and purchasing timber/furniture from properly managed forests is vital.
  • For every tonne of paper used for recycling, 17 trees are spared; 31,500 litres of water are saved; 4,200 KWh less electricity is used.
  • Textiles that are not used by charities are shredded into fibres and used to make new products, such as sound-proofing materials for the automotive industry, archival-quality paper, blankets and even plastic fencing!
  • Plastic production uses 8% of the world's oil production.
  • For every tonne of recycled glass used, 1.2 tonnes of raw materials are preserved.
  • The average child uses up to 5,000 nappies on his or her way to being potty trained. 4% of our waste consists of disposable nappies. Help the environment and save yourself some money - use eco-nappies for your baby.
  • When it comes to recycling it's important to understand what items can be recycled and the recycling symbols. See below to learn more about recycling.

Preparing for Recycling:

Northern Ireland bins

Before you recycle it is important to know whether items need to be prepared for recycling or not. For example, whether they need to be washed or flattened, etc. Waste that is not segregated properly can be difficult to recycle. It is also useful to know where you can recycle different waste streams. The Belfast City Council website provides a handy 'A-Z Directory of Recycling' explaining which household items can and cannot be recycled.

NOTE: Asbestos is extremely hazardous both to people's health and the environment and under no circumstances should it be disposed of with your ordinary waste. See this information on asbestos from Belfast City Council.