A handy guide to recycling during the pandemic.

As environmentalism has grown in importance and prominence over the years, recycling has become a huge part of the effort to save the planet. Our recent survey of 2,003 UK adults found that over half (52%) of people believe that recycling is very important.

Unfortunately, many people felt that the current Coronavirus restrictions had made it harder for them to recycle at times. More than one in four (28%) people found that they had more waste, whilst nearly one in five (18%) felt that the bins weren’t collected enough.

To help with recycling challenges in the current time, we’ve put together a guide for what you need to know.

What can you put in your bin?

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Knowing what you can recycle and where you can do it will help you to manage your waste and recycling more effectively.

What can be put in your recycling bin changes depending on your local authority, but as a rule of thumb; paper, card and some metals such as aluminium and steel cans can all be recycled. Glass can also be recycled in many locations, although some councils ask for it in separate bins, whilst others require it to be taken to bottle banks.

It is important to check whether what you’re throwing away can actually be recycled. You may think that non-recyclable material will  be filtered out, but in fact, contamination due to non-recyclable plastics, or food waste which hasn’t been removed from a container, may mean that the whole batch goes to waste.

Where else can I recycle?

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If your bin is full, then you may have to visit a recycling bank. These can be found in many places in towns and cities across the country - including supermarket car parks. These will often contain recycling facilities for paper and card, metals, glass, and in some cases, textiles.

Some high street clothes stores, such as H&M, also offer recycling for old textiles and will exchange them for vouchers to spend in store.

What about recycling centres?

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Household recycling centres are a great way to recycle large quantities of waste, and they  also accept items that cannot be recycled elsewhere.

Depending on the centre, they may accept old furniture, lightbulbs and batteries, carpets, and scrap metal, electrical products, as well as the usual household recycling.

It is important to remember that you will probably  need to book an appointment to visit a recycling centre now, and this will require you to register in advance.

Wherever you are in the country, your local authority will have recycling facilities near you. Major cities are usually serviced by several facilities that you can visit. You can see the cities with the most recycling centres below.  

Top 10 cities by number of recycling centres:1

City or Town Number of recycling centres
London 27
Greater Manchester 20
Leeds 8
Bradford 8
Sheffield 5
Birmingham 5
Liverpool and Merseyside 5
Glasgow 4
Belfast 4
Edinburgh 3


Remember that recycling is not the only solution for unwanted items. Old clothes and furniture can be donated to charity if they are still in good condition, and you should consider composting food waste if you’re able to, rather than sending it to landfill.

Living more sustainably can be easily accomplished by any family; by being conscious of the amount of waste you’re generating  you can take steps to cut back on it  and by  making an effort to consistently recycle. By taking these steps, you will be able to start reducing your carbon footprint.

Do you have any recycling tips to share? Tweet us at @metals4U_UK


1 Sources for recycling centre data