Nearly two-thirds of all household rubbish can be recycled, saving energy and raw materials and avoiding waste going to landfill. Find out how to recycle a wide range of goods – and discover how recycling can help protect the environment.
Recycling cuts down on the need for landfill. It also reduces the use of new materials and saves energy. Recycling just one aluminium can saves enough energy to run a television set for three hours.
Where you can recycle
All councils in Northern Ireland now collect recycling direct from outside your home. This is called kerbside recycling and materials are collected in boxes or wheeled bins.
All councils also have household recycling centres and bring sites where you can also take items for recycling.
The link below lets you enter details of where you live and take you to your local council website where you can find out more about the recycling services and facilities in your area.
What you can recycle
Your local council will be able to tell you what recycling services and facilities are available in your area.. Most councils are able to recycle paper, glass and plastics, and some also collect metal and organic waste. Recycling banks and bins usually show pictures of what you can put in them.
Recycling throughout your home
Many items in the kitchen are recyclable, including:
- plastic bottles such as milk, water and cleaning product bottles
- glass bottles and jars (but no cookware or pyrex)
- cardboard, such as frozen and dry food boxes and sleeves.
- plastic food trays and wrappings are sometimes recyclable, so check the packaging for more details
Don’t forget you can also recycle items from the other rooms in your house, including:
- in the bathroom, rinsed shampoo and shower gel bottles, cardboard packaging and toilet roll tubes
- in the bedroom, packaging from toiletries and make-up, and unwanted clothing
- when you’re doing the laundry, washing powder and liquid containers
People are recycling three times more rubbish than ten years ago.
Clothes and textiles
More than half of clothing that’s thrown away could be recycled. Most charity shops resell clothing, or you could take your unwanted clothes to clothing banks. Some councils also take textiles in doorstep recycling collections.
Batteries contain hazardous substances so it is important to dispose of them properly. From February 2010 all shops that sell large amounts of household batteries must provide a collection bin for used batteries. You may also be able to recycle batteries through your kerbside recycling bin or box or take them to your local council recycling centre. Please check with your local council how batteries can be recycled in your area.
Car batteries should also be taken to a council recycling centre. Some shops that sell car batteries also accept old batteries for recycling. Check when you buy a new car battery to see if the shop will recycle your old battery for you.
Mobile phones are designed to last many years, so try to keep yours longer by avoiding unnecessary upgrades. When you need to get rid of your mobile phone:
- many phone shops will now take back old handsets for recycling
- there are organisations and charities that accept mobiles for refurbishment and recycling
- you could sell your phone on an online auction site
Many charities and workplaces collect print cartridges for refilling. More than a third of the 40 million used in the UK each year are already re-manufactured.
Full list of items you can recycle
A wide range of other things can be recycled – you can find out more from the RecycleNow website.
Remembering to recycle
Make it easier to remember to recycle by:
- putting your recycling bin or box next to your refuse bin so you can take out your recycling at the same time as your waste
- making a note on your calendar or fridge of when your recycling is collected and what can and can’t be recycled
Why do recycling services vary?
Kerbside recycling services vary from council to council as each council area has different requirements, for example more urban or rural areas or different types of housing. All households in Northern Ireland currently have a recycling bin or kerbside box.
Check with your council for more information about the service in your area.
Is recycling worth it?
Seven out of ten people in the UK say they recycle. It’s important to recycle, whatever the economic climate; it saves energy and reduces the amount of raw materials being used.
By recycling you will also help to support local jobs which is good for the local economy as well as the environment.
Buy recycled products
Products made from recycled goods save raw materials and 'complete the circle' by increasing demand for recycled materials. As well as paper products, you can buy recycled household and fashion items such as shoulder bags, plastic trays, pencil cases and aluminium foil.