I knew that finding out exactly what I could recycle and where to take it might be a bit time consuming, but swiftly found out that was the understatement of the decade.
I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy to minimise the amount of rubbish you generate that goes into land fill – or the incinerator, as I found out happens in Milton Keynes. You need some time and head space to wash food containers out and separate them, some house space to store things that don’t go in the main bin, and the memory of an elephant to remember what the hell goes where.
The major supermarkets who, come on, should be putting this at the heart of their sustainability strategies, really do not help. Only Asda gets a gold star, they have helpful info on their website and the staff in store seem to know what they are talking about. Morrisons and Tesco do have some info on their websites, but sadly although the staff in the stores were keen to be helpful they were often completely clueless about what they could and couldn't accept. In one Tesco store the lady on the Customer Services desk assured me they had stopped recycling plastic bags six months ago, but when I walked down the till lane, there was a huge container clearly marked that took all kinds of plastic bags. It was a similar story in Morrisons.
So, how can you navigate this minefield if you are a time poor, lacking in elephant memory person who wants to do the best they can? Recyclenow.com is a really great resource, enabling you to put in your postcode and see what can be recycled where. But it’s really time consuming and not simple.
So here’s my solution. I've put together a document that lists all the common items, gives a description and tells you where to take them - at least if you live in Milton Keynes, as of course each area is different (thanks to the fabulous Zero Waste MK Facebook group who really helped me out with this). But there are also some helpful websites in case you are one of the 66.2m people who don't live here. I really hope this is as useful for you as it is for me, to help you understand what the hell goes where.