Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wash and Squash

Last week I wrote about the possibility of having education classes to teach people how to recycle correctly. And now I’ve found a handy little guide from the same source.

Last July they did their own research by auditing 20,000 refuse collection rounds throughout the UK and found that only 6% of households recycled their waste correctly as per guidelines. 6%! That means 94% of us are getting it wrong and it results in extra work and costs, and could even result in whole loads being rejected at the recycling plant.

Getting it right means:
  • All refuse correctly separated according to local authority regulations (Redbridge here)
  • Glass, plastic bottles and foil food trays rinsed or washed
  • Lids removed from jars and plastic bottles
  • Metal cans and plastic containers crushed
  • plastic bottles with lids removed (no yoghurt pots or plastic food trays)
  • tins and cans
  • glass bottles and jars with lids removed (not broken glass or windows) 
They say that lids left on plastic bottles make all the difference in the recycling business, because Plastic bottles and their lids are made of different kinds of plastic and can’t be recycled together. Melting them down together results in unacceptable contamination, leaving the "new" plastic unusable

Now, if you have a look at the recycling symbols on plastic milk bottles and their lids you will find they are both type 2 HDPE. But there are different types of HDPE – it’s not that simple, so when Redbridge say no lids, they mean no lids, into the black bag with them. I know that will put the bloke with the “take the lids off job” at the recycling plant out of work but that’s life.

And of course rinsing out, or even washing, used containers should be obvious from a hygiene viewpoint (while it’s sitting there for up to a week in your recycle bin) but it also removes contamination making the recycling process much more energy efficient, saving on costs.

And squashing means that the lorries can take more material before they get full up and have to return to the depot to unload, meaning less fuel used and less pollution on our streets.

All together now, repeat after me, wash and squash and bin the lids.


  1. Yes, I get the idea, however what about those more 'mature' folk or those with a disability who cannot physically crush the cans? I have not problem with the plastic bottles or soft metal tins, but I would struggle with say, baked bean tins,,,

    1. Ah, I'm no spring chicken myself, but here's what to do:
      You save the cans in a basket until the day before recycling day.
      Then you line them up on a piece of 4 by 2.
      Now here's the important motivational bit, you name the cans.
      It doesn't matter who the names are as long as they are people you really dislike.
      Then you take a 10 pound punner and bash the sh1t out of them ..

    2. I would never have enough cans!! Only joking!

  2. An alternative, which requires no additional outlay on timber and demolition equipment, is to wear a sensible pair of walking shoes. Then take the cans outside and lay them on the ground.

    Place one foot across a can near the open end and apply your full weight - you can stamp your foot if you want to but it shouldn't be necessary - this will flatten most of the can, which is where the maximum space saving is made.

    To finish the job, stand behind the can - i.e.: with what was the open end away from you - and engage the bottom of the can under the instep. Apply firm pressure downwards and away from you so that the heel folds the bottom of the can over.

    Of course, if you have as many enemies as B21 seems to have, you may prefer the 'vent your anger' method ...

    If you have a wood burning stove, here's an another method you can try first to soften the cans up.

    Many, many years ago, when I was camping with the Scouts, cans were made of much thicker steel that they are these days and were much harder to crush so we used to throw them on the camp fire and drag them out of the ashes the following morning. This heat treatment made the metal much more malleable and and the cans much easier to crush ...