Recycling is one of the best ways of having a positive impact on the world in which we live. Recycling is important to both the natural environment and individual health. For instance, with respect to the natural environment:

  • Landfill sites emit harmful chemicals and greenhouse gases from rubbish. Recycling reduces the pollution caused by waste.
  • Habitat destruction and climate change are some of the affects caused by deforestation. Recycling reduces the need for raw materials and subsequent rainforest preservation.
  • Vasts amounts of energy are used when making products from raw materials. Recycling is much less energy intensive and therefore helps to preserve natural resources.

Recycling is also of importance to cities around the world and to the people living in them.

  • There is reduced space for waste because landfill sites are filling up fast.
  • Reduced economic expenditure. Producing products from raw materials costs much more than if they were produced from recycled materials.
  • Preserve natural resources for future generations. Recycling minimises the need for raw materials; it is also less energy intensive, therefore preserving natural resources for the future.

Ireland is amongst the top performing EU countries in terms of municipal waste recycling. One third of the food Irish people buy ends up in the bin however, costing the average household up to €1,000 per year. Nationally, there are 3 types of permanent recycling facilities and 2 non-permanent options for individuals with regard to recycline: bring banks, civic amenity sites, and recycling centres (permanent), and kerbside collection and composting (non-permanent).

Bring banks are unstaffed collection points for recyclable materials like glass bottles, drinks cans and food cans. Some bring banks also have collection bins for unwanted clothes.

Civic amenity sites are similar to bring banks but can accept a larger variety of items. They are purpose-built, are staffed and have defined opening hours. In general they accept paper, cardboard, plastic and glass bottles, drinks cans and food tins, textiles and footwear, electrical equipment, fluorescent tubes, waste oil and DIY waste.

Recycling centres are also staffed and gated and have defined opening hours, but accept a smaller variety of items than civic amenity sites. Usually they do not accept very bulky items. They are not custom-built and tend to be located in existing sites such as local authority depots.

Kerbside collection of recyclable waste is often known as a ‘green bin’ collection. Recyclable materials include plastic bottles, glass bottles, drink cans, food tins, newspapers or magazines, and cardboard. Whilst recycling rates remain high in Ireland, many people remain unaware of what can be recycled, and continue to place non-recyclable materials in the green bin. Over 100,000 tonnes of contaminated recyclable material subsequently goes to landfill each year. Just one contaminated item can ruin good recycling efforts. In an effort to reduce the risk of contamination, in 2017 a new recycling guide and list of recyclable products was devised to help individuals to increase recycling rates, and avoid the risk of contamination. A downloadable version of this list can be accessed here for displaying in your home.

Composting is the breakdown of organic material like kitchen or garden waste by organisms that convert it into an earth-like mass, which can then be used as a soil conditioner. EU (Household Food Waste and Bio -Waste) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 71 of 2013) are designed to promote the separation and recovery of household food waste. The Regulations were phased in over a period to 1 July 2016, with brown composting bins rolled out in most towns and cities. Only very small population areas are exempt or small islands or areas where it is simply not technically, environmentally or practical to separately collect such waste. Guidelines on how to reduce food waste are provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, including excellent tips on composting.

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