It’s possible to be wasteful in the kitchen without even realising it. All of the activities that are routinely carried out in the kitchen – cooking, cleaning, and eating – produce significant levels of waste.
And when you consider how many kitchens there are in the UK, and how heavily most of them are used, the sheer amount of waste produced is staggering.
But there are things you can do to cut down on kitchen waste. And as usual, the answer lies in recycling.
Here are five common kitchen items that can be recycled with ease.
This is the obvious one. The vast majority of food packaging can be recycled. If your local council offers a recycling collection service, all you have to do is place your packaging in the box, bag, or bin they provide.
Some councils will allow you to place all of your recycling in the same bin, but others may ask you to sort your recycling before it’s collected. Cardboard will have to be separated from glass and metal, for instance. However, this shouldn’t be a problem so long as you make the effort to keep on top of things.
If your local authority doesn’t offer a recycling collection service, then you’ll either have to pay a visit to a recycling centre, or arrange for a collection by a third party waste disposal specialist.
Recycle Now has a comprehensive list of the types of food packaging that can be recycled.
Local authorities don’t usually collect plastic carrier bags as part of their recycling collection service, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be recycled.
Most of the major supermarket chains have plastic bag recycling points at their larger stores. But if you can’t find one, your local recycling centre should be able to help.
When it comes to carrier bags, reducing and reusing is arguably more important than recycling. It’s for this reason that you now have to pay 5p if you want a carrier bag in UK shops.
Try to get into the habit of taking carrier bags with you when shopping. Or better yet, invest in a bag for life!
Over the course of the year, the average UK family throws away £680 worth of food. That’s enough to cover an average annual utility bill.
What’s more, up to 18 million tonnes of this waste food ends up in landfills – and around 6 million tonnes of this waste comes from ordinary households.
When food is left to rot on a landfill, it releases huge amounts of methane – a powerful greenhouse gas. But it doesn’t have to end up like this. Food waste can be recycled, or even used as a renewable energy resource.
Kitchen waste such as vegetable peelings can be used to make compost for your garden.
But if you don’t have a garden, or if your fingers aren’t green enough to make composting worthwhile, then most recycling centres have areas set aside for organic waste.
And of course, it’s always possible to arrange for a collection by a qualified third party.
This one’s less common, but still important.
A large number of UK households probably have rags and dusters tucked away under the kitchen sink that they use for cleaning.
But when those old dusters become a little worse for wear, there’s no need to chuck it in the bin.
Even the lowliest of kitchen rags can be broken down into threads and made into new clothing, or even turned into fibres for use as insulation.
So when you’re bundling your old clothes together to put in the clothes recycling bin, why not toss a few old kitchen rags in there too, while you’re at it?
This is the big one, but it’s often overlooked.
A recent UNU report revealed that the amount of global e-waste is fast approaching crisis levels. The world created 41.8 million tonnes of e-waste in 2014 alone.
60% of this e-waste was discarded kitchen equipment, which included 12.8 million tonnes of small equipment (microwaves, kettles, and toasters), 11.8 million tonnes of large equipment (washing machines and clothes dryers) and 7.0 million tonnes of temperature exchange equipment (fridges and freezers).
When disposing of your electrical goods, don’t just send them to the tip.
Many companies offer a specialist WEEE disposal service, but you should only resort to these services if your old electrical equipment is no longer in good working order.
If your old stuff is still functioning, then it’ll still be of use to someone out there. Consider donating it to a charity shop, or listing it online using a service such as Freecycle.
Or, if nothing else, ask around your friends, family and colleagues to see if anyone needs your old electrical goods. You never know!
There are lots of kitchen waste items you should be getting rid of, but perhaps you aren’t. For more information about getting rid of waste, check out our waste management services.