Oct 21, 2019

10 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know Could Be Recycled

Words by Jessica Mevel

When you think recycling, you probably think plastic, cardboard, paper and glass. But did you know there are lots more materials that can be recycled? They just need to be separated and sent to the right processing facility.

1. How do I recycle coffee cups?

    In the UK, we use over 7 million disposable coffee cups every single day, less than 1% of which are recycled.

    Take away cups look like paper, but a thin plastic liner inside holds their liquid contents. That makes recycling coffee cups slightly more difficult - but not impossible! They just need to be segregated from other waste and sent to a specialist facility, where paper and plastic are then separated and then recycled.

    Book a First Mile coffee cup recycling service and we’ll turn your used coffee cups into shopping bags, notebooks and paper. Find out more on why you should recycle your coffee cups here.

    2. How do I recycle coffee grounds?

    Did you know that half a million tonnes of waste coffee grounds are produced annually in the UK? Recycling coffee grounds saves 80% CO2 emissions than if they were sent to landfill.

    Waste coffee costs businesses millions of pounds in disposal fees and harms the planet through releasing greenhouse gases including methane if it ends up in landfill. We work with bio-bean, a fantastic coffee waste expert that turns used coffee grounds into amazing products such as coffee logs (for your wood burner), natural flavouring and an important ingredient in pigment and dyes!

    First Mile collects your used coffee grounds with our specialist coffee grounds recycling service.

    3. How do I recycle flexible plastic and plastic film?

      1 trillion plastic bags are used around the world every year.

      What is flexi-plastic, you ask? Flexible plastic is the overarching name we give to plastic shopping bags, cling film, plastic pouches, seals, plastic film and bubble wrap... It’s also one of the most common items in the ocean. You can separate it from your general waste and recycle it with us to see them turned into black bin bags instead of washing up on the nearest beach.

      4. How do I recycle cooking oil?

        Thames Water spends £12 million a year on clearing blockages or ‘fatbergs’ from the sewers.

        If your business uses cooking oil, avoid clogging up drains or throwing it away with the rest of your waste. Instead, order a cooking oil recycling container, or use your own container and we’ll turn it into Biodiesel which is used to fuel vehicles throughout London. Improve your business recycling process and protect the planet with an efficient cooking and vegetable oil recycling service that’s zero-to-landfill and fully compliant.

        5. How do I recycle stationery?


          Globally, over 1.6 billion pens are thrown away each year.

          Ever thought of recycling those pens or staplers you never use? Someone would be happy to take them! We take any spare stationery such as pens & pencils, rubbers, rulers, crayons, highlighters, staplers and hole-punchers. All working items are distributed to our charity partners, while broken and unusable items are incinerated to produce Green energy. Order a sack and send your stationery our way to be upcycled and recycled!

          6. How do I recycle electronics?


            Although nearly 100% of e-waste is recyclable, around 50 million tonnes are thrown away each year worldwide.

            WEEE stands for Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment – essentially any electronic or IT product you can think of, as well as their wires, cables and plugs. They’re packed with chemicals that are hazardous in the wrong places, but also rare materials that are great in the right ones. Whatever old or broken electronic devices you have, leave them with us - we collect all kinds and make sure the right bits go to the right places with our efficient, data-protected e-waste recycling process.

            7. How do I recycle clothing and shoes?

              350,000 tonnes of recyclable textiles are landfilled in the UK alone each year, at least 50% of which could have been recycled.

              Occasionally the time comes to part with your once-loved clothing items. Enter our textile recycling service that ensures clothes for recycling never end up in a landfill. Items in good condition are sent to charities, whilst garments that can't be reused are repurposed as new materials such as insulation and carpet underlays. Install one of our textile recycling bins or sacks in your workplace today and start recycling your clothes.

              8. How do I recycle wellies?

              Diverting one tonne of rubber to horse arena surfacing is expected to save three tonnes of CO2 emissions compared to when new rubber is used.

              Yes, you heard us right - wellies! Once you've finished with your Wellington boots, they go to landfill, which we don't want, so give them a second life and send them to us instead, to be shredded by our partners, for horse arena, playground and road surfacing.

              9. How do I recycle coat hangers?

                Over 20 billion hangers are sent to landfill or incinerated every year.

                Have you ever had a close look at a coat hanger? Probably not (and we don’t blame you). Coat hangers have a mix of materials, such as plastic and metal, which makes them hard to recycle – but not impossible. Just like coffee cups, they need to be sent to a specialist facility to have materials separated! Please do not put them in your normal recycling bag or in your general waste: send them our way and we’ll recycle your plastic and metal clothes hangers into new items - including hangers!

                10. How do I recycle fluorescent tubes?

                  The mercury from 1 single fluorescent tube is enough to pollute 30,000 litres of water beyond the safe drinking level.

                  Have you ever wandered past a bin and seen a fluorescent tube sticking out of it and thought that it looked out of place? That’s because it is. It’s hazardous and illegal to put your fluorescent tubes in bins on the street or at home. At First Mile, we provide you with a special box to recycle your fluorescent tubes. 95% of the materials from fluorescent tubes can be recycled. Materials such as glass, aluminium and phosphor are extracted and recycled into new products, such as bulbs for lighting!

                  See what more your business can do to recycle more and help the environment.

                  Are you a household or small business outside of our service area? Why not use our RecycleBox service for any hard to recycle items.

                  ♻️ Happy recycling! ♻️

                  By Jessica Mevel

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