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Wishcycling and why its not worth it

May 15, 2019

Recycling contamination or the percentage of rubbish mixed in with recyclables has increased and it is putting the global recycling industry in jeopardy. Wishcycling has undoubtedly become a huge factor in the contamination of genuinely recyclable products. For those that aren’t familiar, the term Wishcycling is the process of putting items in a recycling bin instead of the rubbish bin even if you're not sure whether they are recyclable or not.

Wishcycling is a global problem and in some countries, it is affecting the waste industry so severely, they’ve had to suspend their recycling programmes. Public confusion about what is recyclable and what isn’t is a major issue and is one that is quite easily rectified with clear concise communications. Ultimately, we can only recycle CLEAN and DRY, PAPER, CARDBOARD, BOTTLES AND CANS.

It is important to remember that collecting materials is not the same as recycling them. It’s only when a material is recycled into something else that we realise the economic and environmental benefits. Anything different, and we’re creating a problem that results in a negative environmental impact. It adds unnecessary costs for waste management companies and reduces the amount of items that can ultimately be recycled. Sadly, one non-recyclable item can spoil an entire batch of otherwise good material. It may seem like a small thing but this global problem is preventing thousands of tons of recyclables from ever being recyclable.

In March 2018, China changed its import policies as a result of severe contamination within genuine recyclables being shipped in from countries like the UK for processing. The new policies mean that China will only purchase fibres and metals from the international market. The product must be clean and should contain minimal percentages of contaminating product (0.5%) in order to be passed by the Chinese (CCIC) inspectors now based in the country of origin.

The good news is that our government have pledged to improve communications about how and what we can recycle. We hope to see a streamlined approach in the near future that will help individuals make the right recycling choices and will ultimately mean improved sorting processes, a saleable product and improved recycling rates for the UK which all contributes to a cleaner, safer and more sustainable environment for us to enjoy. If you’re in doubt, throw it out.

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