£36 million worth of aluminium is thrown away each year in the UK
Waste is a big issue - financially, politically and environmentally. We produce too much of it; we recycle too little of it; and we have to find a way of disposing of huge volumes of it safely. We produce a massive 350 million tonnes of waste each year in the UK. About one third of it is industrial, commercial and household waste, and roughly half comes from mining and construction.
To look at it another way, we produce about 1 million tonnes of waste each day, enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall once every hour. The majority of the 107 million tonnes of industrial, commercial and household waste ends up in landfill sites, such as this one at Squabb Wood, just one of our 1,500 open landfills.
It is estimated that up to 90% of our dustbin contents could be reused, recycled or composted. We are improving in the UK, recycling and composting almost half of our household waste in 2012. But even so we still recycle less than many other western European countries.
So, why don’t we do more to help ourselves and our environment? From 2016, recent European laws will severely limit the amount of waste going into landfill. All other options, including composting, recycling, reuse, and preventing and minimising waste must be considered first.
Facts about plastic
Plastics are cheap, strong, lightweight and part of our everyday lives. But while the world keeps using more throwaway plastic products like bottled water and food packaging, we are still only recycling a small amount. This leads to huge amounts of our plastic waste ending up in the oceans. Studies estimate there are 18,400 pieces of plastic per square kilometre of ocean.
Most plastic does not decompose, so nearly every piece of plastic ever made still exists. Over time, in the seas, it breaks into small fragments that can be eaten by, and harm, marine animals, who mistake it for food. Plastic pollution in the oceans kills around 1 million sea creatures a year.