How can I recycle?

A collection of green glass bottles in a bin

The need to recycle has never been greater. We’re making great progress and over 60% of Scotland’s waste is now recycled, but we need to keep the momentum up to tackle climate change and reach our net zero targets.

The more waste that can be diverted from landfill, the better. Decaying, biodegradable landfill waste releases greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change, by trapping more heat in our atmosphere.

If we recycle as much as possible, however, less goes to landfill and precious materials can be used again to create new things instead of being used only once.

Making products from recycled materials also uses less energy than if raw materials are used. For example, the energy saved from recycling one glass bottle alone could run a washing machine for 10 minutes. It also saves on the other things you need to make new glass like oil, ash, sand and limestone.

Why it’s good to recycle

  • Give the products you buy a second, third or even fourth life by recycling
  • Ease and convenience – recycling points are all over Scotland and many of us have household recycling services
  • Divert waste from landfill and lessen greenhouse gas emissions to help Scotland get to net zero emissions
  • Put valuable materials back into the manufacturing cycle
  • Energy savings can be made during the manufacturing process
  • Recycling supports jobs in collection, processing and future manufacturing

What can be recycled?

A wide variety of materials can be recycled today, in many different ways. And more and more recycled products are now on the market. Across Scotland there are many dedicated recycling points and many of us have access to household recycling services for things like food waste. 
 

Here are just some of the items that can be recycled:

Batteries – Many shops have battery recycling points, as do some town halls, schools and libraries. From the tiny ones that power a watch or hearing aid or the large batteries that power laptops and radios, these can be recycled.

Composting and Garden – Leaves, grass clippings, plants, flowers and other organic waste can be recycled with your local council through kerbside collection or at recycling points across Scotland. 

Food Waste – For unavoidable food waste like eggshells, fruit peelings and teabags, as well as scraps and leftovers, you can use your food waste recycling service. This will turn food waste into green energy, heat and environmentally friendly fertiliser products, which can be used by Scotland’s farmers. If you don’t have a food waste collection, why not recycle your food waste in a composting bin?

Find out more about preventing, recycling and composting food waste.

Glass – Glass can be recycled over and over and millions of bottles and jars are recycled every year. Simply rinse them clean, remove the lid and place them in your kerbside recycling container if you have one, or take them to a local bottle bank to be recycled.

Liquids, Paints and Chemicals  You might not have thought about recycling cooking oil, motor oil, garden/household chemicals or paints, but these can be recycled too and many recycling centres will accept them.

Metal – Many different kinds of metals can be recycled, from cans, screws and nails to bedframes and shelving. Cans can be easily used for a whole range of new products from building materials to car parts. They can even be turned back into cans again. Just rinse your cans clean and recycle at your kerbside or at a local recycling point. 

Paper and Cardboard – Most kinds of paper can be easily recycled, including brochures, leaflets, magazines, unwanted mail, newspapers and scrap paper from the office and home. Paper and cardboard composes a significant percentage of our household waste, so recycling as much of it as possible through your kerbside recycling facilities or at hundreds of recycling points around Scotland can make a big difference.

Plastic – Your milk bottle, energy drink or fruit juice container can be turned into anything from bin liners to fleece jackets. Simply rinse out your bottles and other plastic containers and place in your kerbside recycling collection or use one of the thousands of recycling points that accept plastics across Scotland.

Textiles – If your textiles, for example bedding, clothes, nets, pillow cases, sheets, tablecloths and towels are clean and dry, then they can usually be recycled. 

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