Reduce, Reuse, Recycling: what to do with your stuff

This guide has been compiled in response to David Attenborough’s reports on single-use plastic pollution. It promotes the Circular Economy which involves reusing existing materials and products as long as possible, reducing waste to a minimum (instead of the Linear Economy of take, make, use and discard). The more we recycle, the less raw materials (eg oil, metal ores, paper fibres) are required to make the next generation of new products.

REDUCE

Reducing what we buy is the best way to reduce our waste, as the rapidly-developing recycling industry is not yet meeting our demand for recycling and actually consumes energy itself.

  • share resources with neighbours eg patio cleaner or strimmer
  • take turns going to a specialist shop or mini-recycling centre
  • look for trustworthy advice eg Which magazine via West Berkshire library and be aware of greenwashing (where companies claim false eco credentials)
  • reduce food packaging, buy from local markets, deli-counters or specialist zero waste packaging shops (see below) taking your own containers and bags.

REUSE

Before you throw something away that you don’t want any more, see if

  • it can be repaired eg local Repair Cafe (see below)
  • it can be modified for a new purpose? eg ripped jeans turn into shorts
  • it can be sold eg eBay, Facebook marketplace
  • it can be given away for free:
    – to a neighbour or friend
    – via your local online freecycle platform (see below)
    – to a specialist company, eg Greenmachine Computers in Ramsbury, A4 Metal recycling in Beenham
    – to a charity shop/collection, eg The Community Furniture Project Newbury, good quality clothing and bedding is taken by The Cowshed (just off J11, M4), baby and toddler stuff can go to First Days Childrens Charity

RECYCLE

The more we recycle, the less raw materials (eg oil, metal ores, paper fibres) are required to make the next generation of new products. However please don’t “wish-cycle” (putting items into recycling collections that you wish were were recycled, rather than those that actually are) as this may increase the dumping or incineration of rejected collections in the UK or abroad.

The following information focuses on West Berkshire. Similar information is available for HampshireWiltshire and South Oxfordshire

Kerbside Recycling (collected by West Berkshire Council)

  • Newspaper and magazines – recycled in Kent
  • Mixed paper and card – may be sent abroad
  • Glass (leave tops/caps/lids on) – recycled in Essex
  • Plastic milk bottles (no top or top can be pushed inside bottle) – recycled in Dagenham
  • Plastic non-milk bottles (no tops) – recycled in Dagenham
  • Aluminium & steel cans – recycled in UK
  • Textiles (clean bed sheets, duvet covers & clothing) – sorted in UK, may be sent abroad
  • Garden waste – £50/year, composted in Padworth
  • Food waste (almost all food except large red meat bones, oils, liquids & fats) – collected in compostable bags and placed in green wheelie bin, to be composted with garden waste (but will still be collected even if you don’t pay for a garden waste collection).

The value of the above materials covers the cost of collection, sorting & recycling (except garden waste).

Mini-Recycling Centres, West Berkshire Council 

There are several mini-recycling banks across the district in Hungerford, Newbury, Thatcham, Hermitage, Theale and Burghfield. These banks take some or all of the below (check this list):

  • Plastic pots, tubs & trays (eg yoghurt pots, margarine & sweets tubs, ready meal & meat trays, fruit punnets, etc)
  • Food & drink tetrapak cartons (including caps and straws), paper tubes with metal end eg Pringles etc (but not the lid)
  • Small electrical items
  • Excess paper/card
  • Textiles (clean dry clothes, curtains, bedding, paired shoes, handbags, belts)

Household Waste Recycling Centres

 You can recycle all of the above and more at the Household Waste Recycling Centres in Newbury (known as ‘The Dump’) and Padworth. See here for the full list (which includes used cooking oil, coffee cups, light bulbs and printer cartridges).

Other Recycling

The Recycle Now national website gives both general and local information, or register with recyclinghive.co.uk for more specific local information.

Soft plastics/plastic bags and wrapping 

Soft plastics/plastic bags and wrappying are now collected in-store by some larger supermarkets as part of the UK Plastic Pact. e.g. carrier bags, bread, crisp, sweet, salad & rice bags, chocolate and biscuit wrappers, baby & pet food, detergent & cleaning pouches, bubble wrap, cling film, cereal box liners, cheese, fish and meat bags/wrapping, delivery bags, frozen food bags, multi-pack wrapping, plastic film lids, toilet roll wrapping etc 

Most Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Co-op (but not Lambourn) currently take the widest range as part of the UK Plastic Pact. See Recycle Now for more details. 

Please note, they can’t take biodegradable plastics bags, or plastic with food stuck on.

Batteries, Toiletries, PIll Packaging, Coffee Cups, Contact Lens packaging

Shops are increasingly accepting recycling eg, 

  • batteries at supermarkets,
  • pill packaging and toiletries empties at pharmacies,
  • coffee cups (of any brand) in Costa Coffee shops (the lids can go in hard plastic recycling)
  • contact lens blister packs, solution bottles etc at Valarie Jerome Optometrists on Northbrook St, Newbury.

Ink Jet Printer Cartridges

Wantage – Ink jet printer cartridges are collected for recycling by Cartridge UK in Wantage. 

Hungerford – ink jet cartridges are collected at Hungerford Printing Company (next to Hungerford Bookshop).

Newbury – Tesco at the big retail park accepts any cartridge (not toners) and some generate a donation to charity – see www.therecyclingfactory.com/tesco/ 

Thatcham – collection box at St Mary’s church (in aid of Guides) and the Community Spirit shop on the High Street

Toner Printer Cartridges

Toners can go to the main Household Waste Recycling centres. The Empties please scheme generates some funding from selected toners for schools/ charities if people collect them in bulk.

Packaging Materials

Packshare website allows you to donate packaging materials to local companies.

Terracycle schemes

There are several collection points across the area for items like crisp packets and toothpaste tubes that are recycled by Terracycle. More coming about this soon.

Items not easily recycled

These include food-soiled items, polystyrene, heat-treated glass (eg pyrex, tumblers), animal-soiled litter, disposable nappies & sanitary products. West Berkshire Council don’t currently collect aluminium foil & trays but the aluminium put in black bins may be recovered from via Energy from Waste facilities.

FAQs

 Why cant I put all three types of plastic recycling (bottles”, soft plastic/plastic bags & wrapping” and pots, tubs & trays”) into the Kerbside collection?

Collecting plastic bottles which have been pre-sorted by us, allows them to be compressed into bales within West Berkshire, making their transport to processing plants more efficient. Plastic bags & wrapping may jam sorting lines and are best kept out of collections: these should be taken to a participating supermarket. At the moment, West Berkshire doesn’t have the infra-structure to collect plastic pots, tubs & trays in pre-sorted kerbside collections: instead these should be taken to a mini-recycling centre, or alternatively avoid buying items packaged in plastic pots, tubs & trays.

Why should I collect my food waste separately for composting – doesn’t it compost in landfill?

Food waste makes up 25% of our black bin waste in West Berkshire. Food waste in landfill decomposes anaerobically, producing methane. At least 25% of global warming is due to methane, so keeping food waste out of landfill is important. Also, collecting food waste separately keeps your black bin clean and the compost produced is used by local growers, reducing their use of artificial fertilisers.

Could textiles be recycled in the UK instead of abroad, where they have a higher risk of illegal dumping?

The UK textiles recycling industry is not fit for purpose, with £140 million worth of clothes sent to UK landfill each year. If this is something that concerns you, buy mainly second-hand clothes until textile recycling improves.

Will recycling actually make a difference to my environmental impact?

Recycling is a small, but important part of living sustainably, and is even more important alongside reducing and reusing. However, there are many other changes you can make to further reduce your environmental impact.

Local Repair Cafés

Repair Café at The Mix, Wantage – first Saturday of the month

West Berkshire Repair Café, Thatcham

Hungerford Repair Cafés – ad hoc dates. Contact Mike Gilbert on mikegilbert9@gmail.com

East Garston Repair Cafés – ad hoc dates. Contact Ed James on edjames@sportingagenda.co.uk 

For more information about how to find or start a Repair Café please visit repaircafe.org

Local Zero Waste Packaging Shops

These specialist shops allow you to bring your own containers and weigh out the exact amounts you want to buy:

Lonely Lentil, online (based in Newbury)

Packaging Not Included, Hughenden Yard, Marlborough

Going Green, Arbery Arcade Wantage

Local Freecycle/Sharing Platforms

Thatcham, Newbury plastic free, recycling & zero waste UK facebook group

Thatcham, Newbury Swap, Sell or Free facebook group

Hungerford Freegle – www.ilovefreegle.org/explore/HungerfordFreegle

Household Waste Save facebook group (covers Lambourn to Great Shefford)

Freecycle (national site)

 

This guide was kindly compiled by Dr. Pat Watson in partnership with Hungerford Environmental Action Team motivated by COP26 and David Attenborough’s report of biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas and single use plastic pollution.

If it is helpful, please share with others, or better still, create your own poster tailored to what you or your business use.

Posters may be emailed to penny@pennypost.org.uk

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