See here for a table of recycling locations in Shropshire

Objects we no longer want turn into waste all too easily, and we expect someone else ‘to take it away and deal with it’ – the energy used up in the manufacture, transport, and whole life cycle of objects creates greenhouse gases, and landfill sites do too that’s why it’s so important to:  Re-Think Resources, reduce, re-use, refill, repair, rot things & reinvest and then recycle as a last resort.


  • Re-Think Resources Get to learn what the materials you use are made of and to question and understand what’s involved in the object’s whole life cycle. We need to vote with our feet against badly designed products that create waste.
  • Reduce - Reduce the amount of packaging you buy (yes, we pay for it), refuse plastic bags (take your own bag) – buy in bulk, shop at markets, far less waste and purchase local.
  • Re-Use - buy second-hand, share your resources, refill containers (see below), paint objects to change appearances.
  • Repair - use Shrewsbury’s shops to repair old bikes, re-sole shoes, mend lamps or take to Repair Cafe or contact Simon Taylor for small items(see main list), TVs, washing machines etc.
  • Refill -  you can refill your Ecover bottles at Pomona,and The Herbarium,  
  • Recycle  -  Shropshire now recycles,re-uses or composts 53.3% of household waste,  which makes us the 8th best county in the UK. For more statistics - see more info.
  • Rot Things - learn to compost, then use that compost to grow things!
  • Reinvest - to complete the cycle, buy recycled items, like computer paper, plastics and glass.
  • Re-manufacture (Caterpillar remanufactures all types of engines for re-use at its Shrewsbury plant.)



This company seems to have relocated to Whitchurch.  For a price, they will collect your old mattress, sofa or carpeting.

Unit 11
Prees Industrial Estate
01948 840 251


Compost, made from  our local kerbside green waste, sold loose in bulk to farmers and landscape gardeners, can be delivered.

01743 821226


 Al cans have only been around since 1965.  Wash and squash these lightweight cans, and put in your recycling box with your other tin cans for fortnightly kerbside collections - also clean aluminium foil e.g. milk bottle tops , from chocolate, nightlights, pie / take away trays, aerosols, deodorant cans, some metal tubes e.g. tomato puree, and fizzy drinks cans. There are skips at supermarkets too, and at Battlefield HRC. You can buy new recycled foil:   (See also tin cans - easily recognized as they magnetic.)
If the object you squash stays scrunched, then its aluminium. If not its probably a plastic/aluminium composite eg some toothpaste tubes, crisp packets, pet food sachets and coffee wrappers are mostly plastic and not able to be recycled.


A highly dangerous material. You can take to the Battlefield HRC and place in skip for safe disposal but please ring 0345 678 9007 in advance for advice.


These help cause the fatburgs,currently in the news, in the sewage system.  None are really biodegradeable, so best to bin them, and avoid using if possible.  They’ve been produced for 60 years, and made of a non-woven blend of natural and synthetic fibres, such as polypropylene.  The industry body Water UK say all wipes should be binned, and not labelled biodegradeable - for that process is too slow to be of use, so please don’t throw them in the loo.  For details




There are so many textile and woven bags around , often free or very cheap, and re-useable time and time again, that no-one should need a plastic bag.

Clever Baggers Fox Building, Severn Rd., Welshpool SY21 7AZ. T: 0845 2600393  will sell and print in bulk.
(Also see plastic bags,)

balloons and sky lanterns and glitter

Balloons, their strings and labels,  when let go of, fall back to earth and can be ingested by grazing animals, birds or marine creatures, so the Marine Conservation Society suggests we don't use balloons.  So-called biodegradeable ones may take 4 years to disapper - that's not very biodegradeable, and they could do damage til then.  And some scientists believe that the gas helium is too precious to be wasted in balloons.

Sky lanterns similarly cause fires and litter and sometimes havoc when they fall back to land. More and more councils are not allowing these to be let off on council land ,  has a few alternative ideas,

Glitter is made of micro-plastics, not yet banned, but some nurseries and schools have given up using them.  (Lush has non-plastic glitter in their products )(You can find biodegradeable glitter made from eucalyptus, look online, various companies).


You should now be able to take them back to the place where you bought them, supermarkets, also virtually all public buildings in Shropshire have battery recycling bins in reception, for these throw-aways are manufactured from nasty chemicals, which used to end up in landfill.  YOU CAN NOW recycle household batteries from the kerbside - please put them in a clear plastic bag and put them on your recycling box in a place wherfe the crews can easily see them.

Use rechargeable batteries with rechargers whenever possible.  See  W:  for a question and answer session, or  T: 0800 666 4668

Better still, buy wind-up or solar-powered radios and torches, now more widely available.

Car Batteries must  be taken to Battlefield HRC for professional disposal.  (The lead content is recycled but the acid needs to be neutralised before it can be disposed of).

Watch batteries can be returned for recycling to Timpsons (under the market), or can be recycled along with other household batteries, in shops, supermarkets, etc.

Battlefield Household Recycling Centre

Check Opening times 9 - 5pm 7 days per week (except Xmas Day, Boxing Day & New Year's Day). Same times of opening for all of Shropshire's HRCs.  You can recycle more than 30 different items here, including: - • Wood • Scrap Metal • Plasterboard • Garden waste • Soil • Hardcore and rubble • Glass • Paper • Cans, tins, aerosols and tin foil • Plastic bottles • Plastic pots, tubs and trays • Gas bottles • Fridges and freezers • Electrical appliances • Mobile phones • TV and computer monitors • Car engine oil • Car batteries • Used cooking oil • Printer cartridges. Carpets • Textiles • Bras • Shoes • Furniture • Books • Toys • CD's & DVD's • Bric-a-brac • Cardboard • Tetra Pak type drinks cartons • Fluorescent tubes • Low energy lightbulbs • Household batteries You can ring the Council to request collection of large objects , for a charge. The collections have been sub-contracted to local recycling charities - so it helps support their work. Remember to get into the site with large trailers and most vans you will need a permit, so ring first. 0345 678 9007


Vanguard Way,
Battlefield Enterprise Park
0345 678 9007


Bicycles can often be mended, reused, and customised. Local bike shops can repair, including in  the Market Hall. Broken bike metal can be recycled at the scrap metal bays at Battlefield HRC.
gocycling-Shropshire will come and mend your bike at home.


Re-cycle - a national charity that sends unwanted bikes to Africa, has a drop off point at Halfords, Telford.  tel 01952 290414

Bluesky Plastics Recycling

collect scrap WEEE and other larger electrical goods using a national network of collection points and bulk containers.  Plastics are  separated, cleaned,   reduced and offered for resale

01775 670226


Books are very energy and materials inefficient, so always recycle, and buy second hand. Keep the library open (Shrewsbury Library is beautiful!), so borrow books – it’s free!
Publishers are waking up to seeing the environmental impact of new paper books 
Donate to charity shops (esp Oxfam, Dogpole libraries, or book banks.) - website to follow ideas, journeys and histories of books left in a public place to be picked up and read by others – free, who then do likewise.
Read, recycle and swap and talk about books online. You can recycle book paper and it's cardbard cover , in the blue kerbside bag.

Battlefield HRC accepts used books for re-use and recycling.


 Recycle these for charity at Battlefield HRC. Bras are in short supply in African countries


Made of polythene - smallish amounts can be recycled with plastic bags in larger supermarkets, like Sainsbury and Morrisons.  Larger peices can be given away, or used to protect fragile plants, or to line greenhouses.

Building Materials

Don’t tip these, they may be useful to builders, or reclamation yards such as Loosemores in Battlefield who sell and buy all types of recycled rubble and aggregate   T: 01743 443 156.
Battlefield HRC will recycle small quantities.

Bulky Household Waste

If you cannot transport items to the Battlefield HRC yourself, you can ring the Council for a chargeable collection, (T: 0345 678 9007). These collections are now run by charitable organisations involved in recycling, so there is some benefit to the community. However its far better to avoid the item ever becoming ‘waste’ in the first place, so check it can’t be used by someone else, see or a Furniture Scheme. Businesses, trailers and large vehicles can’t dump stuff at Battlefield HRC - if in doubt, ring for a permit.


Aluminium, ferrous (human and pet foods) and aerosol cans can both go in your kerbside recycling box. Wash and squash, please,or ifvery large amounts to Battlefield HRC.



Cardboard  -  Shrewsbury residents can now recycle card with all kinds of paper at the fornightly kerbside collection in free blue plastic bags. More info at

Greetings Cards can be recycled in your kerbside paper collection.
Ensure the card comes from sustainable forestry, or is made of recycled paper.
You can send E-cards by using FoE’s efficient and free service:

Throughout January, WH Smith and Tesco and TK Maxx usually  take back greetings cards for recycling for charity.
Headway Shropshire, Holsworth Park, Oxon Business Park, Shrewsbury SY3 5HJ   T: 01743 365271 -  their day centre clients can recycle old greetings cards into new.


You can now take them to the Battlefield Recycling Centre, where there there is a designated skip for old carpets.  If you need it collecting, see AAT Recycling, above.

You can use an old carpet (topside down) on weed areas in your garden to  prepare the ground for digging: makes a good cover for the top of a compost bin too.


Abandoned vehicles are an eyesore and a safety issue. Report them to the Council  - 0845 678 9009.
New EU ruling means cars can now be scrapped free.

Salop Car Breakers, Unit 6/7 Monkmoor Industrial Estate, Shrewsbury. 01743 242108

Car Oil – very toxic and illegal to dump in water supply, take  to Battlefields HRC, as it can be recycled.

Cave Records

Cave Records sells new and old records.

28, The Parade, St. Mary's Place.


A good packaging material that biodegrades quicker than leaves! Made from digesting wood and cotton pulp in a series of chemical  baths.

Chalk of Oswestry

CHALK is an umbrella business, which co-ordinates a number of projects to enable people, who live locally to Oswestry, to learn valuable skills to enrich their lives and build a better community.

 You will find re-upholstered bespoke furniture to re-purposed and up-cycled furniture, vintage clothes, textiles, haberdashery, gifts and so much more.  look for the unusual.


17 Leg St
01691 655895

Cigarette Filters

We have all seen discarded cigarette ends outside buildings, and along streets, perhaps not realising the global problem they cause. Almost all Cigarette filters are a combination of a type of PLASTIC (cellulose acetate) and toxic tobacco remnants.
They can be carried through storm drains to streams, rivers and oceans.

The PLASTIC in the filter itself is NON-Biodegradable waste.  [Eventually UV rays from the sun break the plastic into smaller microplastics that can find their way into the food chain, via oceans and marine life].
They are the most pervasive form of litter in the world.
We may think we are just ‘flicking away’ paper and tobacco…….yet  there is NO AWAY.

As long ago as October 2015 ,The World Health Organisation stated …. this waste may also prove to be a significant environmental contaminant and potential human health hazard through bio-accumulation in the food chain.
If there is no other option throw cig end into the dustbin.

Clothes And Shoes

All parts of textiles and shoes, bags and belts can be recycled and reused – even into industrial rags or underfelt, so never just bin them. Give good quality clean items to Jumble sales or charity shops, for reuse and resale, and thus fundraising, or second-best place them in clothing skips at supermarket recycling centres, and at Battlefield HRC, which also has a skip for
- Bras - recycled for Cancer Research or take them to M&S who pass them on to Oxfam.

- H & M, Castle St, Shrewsbury, will receive and recycle your old clean clothes, proceeds going to charities. They have an organic range.




Have you always wanted to get involved a clothes swap but don't know where to start?

Are you concerned about the effect on the environment of fast fashion? Do you question the working conditions of those in the garment making industry in developing countries? Do you want to consume less and recycle more?

Jackie and Naomi have been organising neighbourhood clothes swaps for 10 years and they would love to share their simple, no frills formula to running a successful clothes swap in your street/ group.

email us at for free help and advice.

Coffee Grounds

You can ask Starbucks, and now, Ginger and Co Coffee in Princess St. for theirs, to take home to add to compost. Also said to be a good slug repellant in small quantities!  Ask other cafes, to encourage composting!

You can also grow oyster mushrooms on old coffee grounds


Coins and Currency

Many charities collect old currency, British and foreign. Also banks. Leave foreign money at the port or airport of other countries for their local charities. Local charity, Omega care for life, will accept any coins and currency (as well as paperbacks, stamps and mobile phones) at their HQ at London  House, Town Walls, Shrewsbury SY1 1TX.  9-5pm. weekdays


Make your own, to enrich the quality of your soil.  Worm composters  make very rich compost and can sit under the sink. Lakeland, Mardol sell containers for kitchen veg waste prior to composting.  If you buy compost from nurseries or garden centres, make sure it contains no peat. (see Home and Garden section for more about compost bins etc)

Shropshire Council and Veolia run a Master Composter programme.  For more details of this group, contact

Bokashi buckets, are useful, as they ferment all household kitchen waste, including meat, fish, dairy and even bones.  The resulting stuff can be used as a good soil conditioner and a plant food liquid too.


They contain hazardous waste materials, and need to be disposed of safely at Battlefield HRC. Or they may be mended and re-used, or if they are completely broken, they can still be dismantled for recycling (in the UK):-

Salop Computer Centre, Trade Counter 2, Battlefield Rd, Shrewsbury SY14AN.   01743 233550  repair and recycle.  Also take used printer cartridges.

Shrewsbury based Go-to IT Fix IT, will offer repairs on the spot if practical.

Wrexham firm safely collect, destroy data and recycle parts.   01978 448019  Collect old computers from colleges, universities, businesses, and homes for processing, sorting for re-use, and stripped into component parts. They also offer lowcost or free to low-income rural families or people in need, they dispose and recycle within the UK.

Computers for Africa,
Visit towns for a few days, to collect old computers that must be less than 5 years old. They visit Shrewsbury 4 times a year    01622 750323

South Shropshire Furniture Scheme
Ludlow SY8 1RL    Refurbish computers. Recycling and carpentry workshop, accredited training, tea room, & reuse centre.
Computer Cartridges
Computer printer cartridges can be refilled. Toners are the large, commercial ones, filled with dust colour, inkjets are wet and used in smaller, domestic pcs and can be refilled while you wait at:-                     

Cartridge World, ,  local supplier of low cost and high quality refilled inkjet and laser printer cartridges.

Ink World,  182 Abbey Foregate, SY2 6AH   T: 01743 246 869   Order online with free delivery at

Recycle used printer cartridges – only 10% are presently recycled, so to recycle,  take to Tesco, Charity shops, Ryman stationers, the Guildhall reception area and Battlefield HRC.    Also:-
- Action Aid  0845 3100 200  - collect ink & toner cartridges by giving freepost bags (and free collection boxes for offices). Recycle  lots of electronics too.

- Cartridge Express   0113 2428935

- Environmental Computer Recycling - an IT recycling company who collect from businesses in mainland UK, within 20 mile radius of Birmingham.  0121 472 3444.

Condover Furniture Ltd

Environmentally Friendly upcycled furniture enhanced with Glass.


Contact Lenses

DO NOT throw into toilet or sink  (sewage works can't safely dispose, they will get shredded and end up in the sea).....recycle with the original packaging back to the place where bought, if possible.  Or bin them.

Shrewsbury Optometry in Dogpole, or Boots Opticians will safely recycle. ( See also



Try to choose containers that may be recyclable, with minimal packaging. e.g. glass perfume bottles can be recycled with jars and wine bottles, most plastic pots can be recycled in the plastic kerbside collection.  A wide rang of soaps, of course, are sold in paper wrappers - easily recyclable.  See plastics section for details about how cosmetics and beauty products have tiny microbeads in their ingredients, which are causing havoc for marine and land life.  Their use will only be partially banned, so please investigate carefully these products. The Shrewsbury United Reformed Church will take certain cosmetic plastics for recycling,  ( see


Cotton buds with plastic stems

Cotton buds with plastic stems are being outlawed in Scotland, because people actually throw these down the loo, and they end up on beaches, hurting/killing marine life.  Plenty of cardboard-stemmed ones around locally.  The Herbarium, Wyle Cop and Snapdragon, in the Market Hall sell paper-stemmed, packaged in cardboard.

crisp packaging

Crisp manufacturer Walkers are recycling any make of crisp package. Large amounts can be boxed and returned by their courier. Small amounts are collected at The United Reformed Church office, in centre of Gyratory traffic system by English Bridge (limited opening times).. 

United Reformed Church
Coleham Head
01743 368932

Drinking Straws

Plastic straws will soon be banned in Scotland, and the UK. Once used, the plastic ones may take centuries to disintegrate, and then stay as tiny, dangerous-to-wildlife particles. Plenty of alternatives - bamboo, metal, glass, silicone, or best of all, and simplest by far, buy locally paper straws.

Duvets and washable pillows

In good condition, these are sometimes accepted by Furniture Schemes and The Ark (Homeless Charity), (check first).

Otherwise, try Dogs Homes eg. RSPCA Dorrington  0300 123 0753 or The Dogs Trust at Roden 01952 770225 and Dog Samaritans in Church Stretton.


E U Skills

They have grants for small waste firms to take on young people. Also co-ordinate other training in the gas, power, water and waste management sector.

Electric Appliances


The WEEE Directive (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) states that such waste must be reclaimed, and there is a designated bay at Battlefield Household Recycling Centre for this.

- Get electrical objects repaired rather than discard, creating valuable employment too.
Industry Council for Electronic Equipment Recycling
T: 020 7729 4766

- Info on manufacturers who recycle.
Recycle components or metals contained in used or discarded electronic equipment.

- Shropshire Council
T: 0345 678 9007
Will take away a defunct fridge or cooker (for a small fee).
Donate reasonable items to Furniture Schemes

- Frankwell Appliances
20, Frankwell, Shrewsbury
T: 01743 356625
Sells reconditioned appliances.

- Stokes of Shrewsbury
60 Mardol, SY1 1PP
T: 01743 355752
Sell reconditioned appliances at ½ the new price, and do spares & repairs.
(for large-scale recycling  WEEE of electrical goods, see the business/office section for Blue Sky Plastics Recycling, who process plastics for reuse.)

- Small electrical appliances - Asda has a dedicated skip.


Re-use by sticking labels over previous addresses. (Shrewsbury Foe no longer sell these). It's no longer necessary to remove and discard plastic windows from envelopes before recycling in with paper!

Environmental Computer Recycling

IT recycling company, who collect from companies in mainland UK.

0121 472 3444

Everyday harmful Plastics

Surprisingly there are small items that we may not realise contain harmful plastic.  Some of these are :

Contact Lens, Cigarette Filter tips,  Cotton Buds with plastic stems.Glitter. (more details in this Recycling section)

These small items can easily get into water courses, so small that they cannot be filtered and then break down further and harm water life/fish and may return to the food chain.

Fight the Plastic

A Bishops Castle initiative to achieve a Plastic Free Community status.


01588 680250 07811851128

Film Cases

Take back to Boots photographic dept. for recycling.

Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent Lights (and low energy light bulbs)
These are hazardous waste, containing mercury, and must be taken to Battlefield HRC for safe recycling.
IKEA stores will accept them back, too.  Sainsburys, Meole Brace also accept them for safe recycling.  Other supermarkets will follow.

- Bulk lights – Recyclite T: 0800 358 5440 or 01953 451111
Will supply storage boxes and organise collections for recycling.


Waste food as it rots creates methane in landfill, so eat it all up!. We recommend you only compost raw food and not meat, fish, bread or dairy. If you want to compost cooked food you should be use a wormery instead.  ( More on composting and see Wiggly Wigglers in Home & Garden section).
Of course it is better to avoid waste in the first place though, so try not to waste so much food, the average family could save about £60 per month on shopping bills!

You can now put any waste cooked foods, meat, cheese and kitchen greens etc in compostable (corn starch) bags,or wrap in newspaper, and add them to the green garden waste wheelie bin for fortnightly roadside collection.

 SHREWSBURY FOOD HUB - Fantastic new and fast-developing charity for receiving,. collecting and delivering unwanted food from all sorts of shops/supermarkets, and getting it to where it's most needed.  In its first yearIt has fed over 2,000 people a week, and rescued 14 tonnes of food, and is helping 36 community groups.


- A new active national website for giving/receiving something you don’t/ do want, saving stuff going into landfill.
A free version of ebay, giving things away instead of selling them.

- Freegle (replaces freecycle) in Shrewsbury. 5800  locals use this grassroots, and growing, free, non-profit local recycling opportunity. You offer something you don’t need on the web, goods or services for free, or look to acquire something you need  yourself.   A bonus is  it keeps unwanted stuff out of  landfill.   To join, see  Local Shrewbury Group:
Local group via Facebook:
For national information:


Freiburg, Germany

This South Western German city, of 220,000, has excellent and progressive policies on public transport, waste, lots of forms of sustainable energy, ecologically sound buildings, green spaces and lots more besides.


see electric appliances

Frith Resource Management

Provide advice and expertise in environmental and sustainable waste management fields

01746 552423


Don't chuck it, it can be re-used, repaired, customised.
If you donate to a furniture scheme, this may produce useful training work in mending, and the furniture is then sold on cheaply to households in need:-

 Shrewsbury Furniture Scheme (also known as Home Essentials), Unit 9b HartleyBusiness Centre, off Monkmoor Road, 01743 246 668 Mon-Thur 10 - 4pm, Fri 10 - 2.

Their shop, Home Essentials, in Castle Street, Shrewsbury, open ; Mon-Sat 9.30 - 4.30  sells large furniture, financially supports the scheme, and stops more items going to landfill.  Phone to donate, have stuff collected or to receive if on a low income or in need. . Free collection in S’bury.
At their Monkmoor place, they can recycle glass, metal, wood, non-working electrical items and plastic.

Belle Vue Restorations Ltd, Green Lane, off Upper Rd, Meole Brace, Shrewsbury SY3 9JH Tel 01743 272210

British Heart Foundation will collect  furniture and electrical items

Crane Quality Counselling : Donated  Furniture and Household goods  for sale from Shop at 51-52 Mardol. SY1 1PP. They collect free.The sales support this Local Charity offering a counselling service Tel: 01743 272303

REVIIVE - Unit 4, Knights Park, Battlefield Enterprise Park, Sy1 3AB. (next to Screwfix).01743 588458    Mon-fri 10-5.  Sat 10am-4pm.
New re-use store, selling household items and furniture, supporting people in need, and offering training.

South Shropshire Furniture Scheme,  The Renaissance Centre, Ludlow SY1 1RL. 01584 877751
Computer refurbishing/recycling workshop, accredited training, carpentry workshop, tea room and shops.
Collects donated furniture.


Put bottles and jars in the green box for recycling collections.

Pyrex, window glass or incandescent light bulb glass can’t be recycled -  there's a special skip at Battlefield HRC, also for used fluorescent lights.

Cheese plates, olive dishes, spoon rests and lemon boards, made of recycled green and blue glass bottles by Sarah Hill, T: 01939 236 478

(There is a box for special glass donations for Sarah Hill at Battlefield Recycling Centre)


Community Computer help to Fix hardware or/and help with IT software problems.

Check website for opening hours


Roy Fletcher Centre
Cross Hill

Green Options

Greenoptionszerowaste is a single use plastic free store. The idea is simple, bring your own container and refill. There is a large range of dried foodstuffs, spices, teas, oils, cleaning liquids and multi-use items. There is a till system that allows people to self-serve ( help will be available), and lots of tips and advice on how to cook or use any of the products. There's lots to see, try out and explore with new stock available upon popular demand. They offer a choice to alternative consumption, with a closer connection to what we buy and use. Open 6th April Tuesday-Saturday 9.30-5.00

SU11 Upper Level
Charles Darwin Centre

Hazardous Waste

eg. Oil, paint, varnish, chemicals – anything which is dangerous, flammable, explosive poisonous etc)
Don’t bin it! Take to Battlefield Household Recycling Centre for safe disposal.

House Clearances

Brian Taylor Antiques and House Clearances
All types undertaken; of houses,offices,workshops,sheds and garages, anything useful sold on or given to charity.
Other materials recycled where possible. Free,no obligation quotes/valuations.  m: 07754 084949

01743 244626

Incineration ( now called energy recovery facility)

Shropshire Council Planning Committee refused planning permission, but Veolia appealed and won after a public enquiry.

Shrewsbury foe campaigned against the incinerator from the moment it was announced and were a major opponent at the Inquiry.  The reasons for campaigning are still valid:-

1.    It is expensive

2.    It removes the incentive to push for maximum recycling.

3.    There are concerns that the emissions to atmosphere are detrimental to health.

4.    Only 25% of the potential energy is utilised to prduce electricity.  Heat recovery and use could raise overall energy efficiencyt to 70-80%.

Veolia have managed to process and recycle all the ash as a construction material and are investigating whether it is feasible to provide some heat to a close-by processing plant.

These are positive developments and although no domestic waste is now going to landfill, the hope must be that in future systems and processes are adopted that do maximise recycling and avoid the detrimental effects of incineration.



These can now be recycled at Lunts Chemists, Boots, Asda and Tesco.

Ink-Jet & Laser Cartridges

There are a number of charities who welcome your recycled inkjet cartridges, mobile phones sat.navs,digital cameras etc.

Ask your charity for a special recycling envelope  or go direct to

Further info  under Computers


Junk Mail

 In 2009, 11 billion pieces of it were delivered in the UK.  has firm/polite letterbox stickers.    Register for opt out options with   or    or

Light Bulbs

These energy-guzzling incandescent bulbs are no longer permitted to be sold, and  they can’t be recycled.  Energy-saving fluorescent bulbs and strip lights can be recycled at Battlefield Household Recycling Centre.


Coming monthly to Castlefields Community Hall, selling lots of plant-baseed and chemical-free kitchen and bathroom- friendly products, like Faith in Nature and bio D washing products, and refilling your containers - to reduce plastic use. See their website and Castlefields facebook page for dates, times, etc.


Love Your Clothes

A UK gov website with loads of useful tips on caring for your clothes including mending, washing and recycling.


Give to libraries, schools, doctors’, dentists’ or vets’ waiting rooms, or recycle with newspapers.

mascara brushes

When finished with, and cleaned, these can be posted to an animal sanctuary in Scotland because they are ideal for cleaning the feathers of wildlife in their care!

The New Arc,
Nether Auquhadie, Auchnagatt,
Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Materials Recycling Week

Recycling and waste management news , information & a directory of companies.


AAT Recycling. This Whitchurch-based company recycle or re-purpose mattresses, sofa beds, chairs, and all types of electrical appliances.

Unit 5/6 Prees Industrial Estate, Whitchurch, SY13 2JD.  They can collect, but will charge.

T: 01948 840251    m. 07522849380.   W. www.aatrecycling.





Unwanted or unused - creams, liquids, tablets or inhalers should all be returned to your chemists for safe disposal.


Battlefield Household Recycling Centre has a scrap metal skip. CheckYellow pages for your nearest local scrap dealer.
WJ Furber, Upper Battlefield, Shrewsbury.   T: 0783 417 5195
buy and sell any scrap metals, including cars (not fridges or al cans). Open 8-5, Mon-Fri.

Mobile Phones

It is really worthwhile to recycle mobile phones –a tonne of ore from a gold mine produces just 5 grams (0.18 ounce) of gold on average, whereas a tonne of discarded mobile phones can yield 150 grams (5.3 ounce) or more of solid gold!!! The same volume of discarded mobile phones also contains around 100 kg (220 lb) of copper and 3 kg (6.6 lb) of silver, among other metals. They also take energy to make, and waste energy if chargers aren’t unplugged, so recycling is essential. Return your phone to where it was purchased or take it Battlefield HRC, where their sale proceeds are donated to Hope House Children's Hospice, Oswestry. Or charities like Oxfam and Cancer Research benefit by receiving old phones for resale etc. (National Foe receives a donation if you send them your old one – see ) recycle them, this helps Children in Need. Another local charity, Omega Care for Life, accepts mobile phones for safe recycling. tel 01743 245088. (see coins and currency for more details).


Don’t use paper nappies, theycontain plastic, and they don’t decompose, and are polluting all through their lifecycle. Reusable terry towel nappies can prevent this waste, and you could save about £800 over the lifetime of just one baby! (lots more in Family and Leisure section). Analysis of what’s in our bins in Shropshire has shown that disposable nappies make up about 4% of total household waste. This means an incredible 6,000 tonnes of disposable nappies end up buried in landfill sites in Shropshire every year.
If you want to help tackle this waste mountain and save yourself some money, and get lots of good info, then contact The Nappy Lady via their website.

Office and House Clearance

Office Furniture, IT Equipment and Telecoms clared free of charge for re-use as a 2nd user product.
Also houses and lofts cleared.

0121 472 3444


Disposing of mineral oils down drain or sink is illegal.  You can recycle engine and heating oil at Battlefield HRC.  It's collected and recycled into a new type of heating oil.  Separately used vegetable oil from cooking can also be recycled  at Battlefield HRC, it's reprocessed and then used to provide electricity and heat.  See   for other areas.


So much waste is involved insome of the non-recyclable materials used for packaging,  such as plastics made from a non-renewable resource, like oil.  It's possible to choose to buy things in bulk, which cuts down on the materials used, or use paper bags or cardboard, which can be recycled, re-used,  or composted.  It's possible to always choose products which have the least packaging, or request the manufacturers to try a bit harder.

The Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (incpen) is a research organisation, representing manufacturers - there is lots of useful info on why and how items are packaged in the way they are.

The Wool Packaging Company Ltd
Stable Court, Oakley, Market Drayton, Shropshire TF9 4AG.
T: 01630 415 008
Wool-insulated boxes made from degradable fibreboard, brilliant and local alternative to polystyrene, etc.


- Scrappies (in Church Stretton)
T: 01694 722511 Will take paint, emulsion or gloss, as long as there is more than half a tin. Phone before travel.

- Battlefield HRC for safe disposal.

-  charity Community RePaint in Telford . Chairs & Spares above)

- See New Life Paints made from recycled paint at


Unwrap presents carefully, and reuse the wrapping paper. Put out newspapers, magazines, catalogues, etc. in the  fortnightly recycling box. Don’t forget to tear up or shred private bills and financial documents, and recycle with the green waste, or compost or use as animal bedding, as shredded paper can't go in with the paper green box.

No need to remove envelope windows,  as these are made from cellulose.


From diy building projects can be recycled in a skip at the Battlefield Household Recycling Centre.

PLASTIC CLING FILM (and how to avoid)

- re-use ice cream and marg tubs etc to store food, instead of throwing them away

- re-use glass jars with lids or takeaway containers to store leftovers

- fabric, beeswax or silicone food covers are now available from many kitchenware retailers. Make out of your own fabrics.

- sandwiches in paper bags, or reuseable sandwich wraps

- bread and cakes can be stored in a clean tea towel

- most kitchens probably already have green alternatives to cling film


Don't use them, get another form of bag instead, that you can use over and over again, and not just once.  Large companies have to charge 5p - small shops give them away free.  You can buy a long-life plastic bag from most supermarkets, who will replace it when it's worn out.  1.2 trillion plastic bags are produced annually, globally. Wildlife on land and sea ingests or gets caught up in plastic and dies horribly in large quantities.

Since Rebecca Hoskins from Modbury, Devon spearheaded a campaign to limit their use, many UK towns have become virtually plastic-bag free. 

You can't put these bags out with the kerbside plastic collection, but some supermarkets (Sainsbury, Morrisons) will take all kinds of plastic bag/wrappers back, including stretchy plastics and bubble wrap.   Or give bags to market stallholds.  Battlefield HRC no longer collects them.

If you want to use biodegradable and compostable bags, liners and cutlery - all made from maize - try  Ecosac Ltd, Tern Hill, TF9 3HX.   Use with garden or kitchen waste, and put in green bin, dont put these to be recycled with real plastic bags, as it will degrade the plastic.  Also Biobag Ltd, Leyland, PR26 7PF.


See below for single-use plastic coffee/tea cups.  Save A Cup will supply and collect their plastic cups, (used for drinking water at vending machines), and then recyle them into other objects. Still only a once-used, your ceramic mug would be better.


Agri-cycle Shropshire - for plastic farm and agricultural waste -  collection and recycling of cartridges, bailer twine, used spiral shelters and guards for young trees .

Montford Bridge

Plastic Flower Pots

These, whatever colour, can't yet be recycled with plastics at your kerbside. But they can be re-used, when clean, by community groups, allotments, and schools that garden, so offer them if you can.

Dobbies are now taking responsibility for taking them back for recycling, ( to be re-made into plastic things), all colours, broken or intact, plus the plastic trays that contain pots.  Just give them to a member of staff. Black Birches Garden Centre, of Hadnall, willingly receive plastic pots in good condition, for re-use.  Also try Blue Diamond (Percy Throwers).  Harley Bank Nursery will take back for re-use.  And now, B & Q willingly take them back, in their garden/plant section.

Use earthenware pots, or check out biodegradeable ones made of coir, bamboo or other peat-free materials..

plastic glitter

Glitter, made of  micro plastics is being banned from festivals and in some children's nurseries. There is a better alternative - bioglitter, made from cellulose from Eucalyptus trees, several makes.

Plastic Microbeads In Cosmetics - Try and Avoid

The good news - plastic microscopic beads  can no longer be manufactured to be used in cosmetics and personal care products in the UK, after a long-promised ban came into effect in Jan 2018.  A ban on sales followed in July.

The bad news - they are still allowed in various forms in other non-rinse-off cosmetics, such as suntan lotion, mascara, lipsticks and even some deodorants.  Check ingredients before buying.

Useful website -

Plastic Water and Juice Bottles

Plastic Bottles - these, once-used, when discarded, litter the countryside, and do not biodegrade.
They must be recycled at kerbside collections, and some town centres.

TO AVOID once-used plastic water bottles -

- buy a glass or stainless-steel one

- get a good water filter (and recycle filters at Argos, Meole Brace)

- get rid of chlorine taste of water by refrigerating in a glass bottle with top left off and use within 2 days.  Most of the chlorine evaporates!

- when out, cafes will refill your water bottle if asked (eg Costa).  And there is often a jug of tap water, so help yourself.
A growing website, when you are out and about - can tell you the nearest water-filling location.
But it is a legal requirement to fill up on request.

Borough Market in London has now banned plastic water bottles, and instigated water fountains instead, to refill your bottle! 

  A good start is to get milk (and organic) delivered in reusable glass bottles.
  Glass milk bottles are reused a minimum of 20 times and after than can still be recycled!

Have  a look at the following for inspiration:

Much Wenlock or Fairbourne Water, are the nearest source of local bottled water, but check where it is distributed, and then re-use the bottle, but read this website for the dangers of over-using plastic bottles!  See


Sainsbury will accept all types of plastic wrappings No.4 (LDPE) in their in-house plastic bag recycling scheme - wrappers from bakery goods, breakfast cereals, toilet rolls, and plastic bags from fruit, veg, bread, freezer bags, and magazine and shrink wraps. Also bubblewrap.  Any plastic that can stretch a bit.  You can post clean plastic wrapping to Polyrpint Mailing Films.


Make sure you look in the  PLASTICS   part of this Recycling section, as there is lots of info, and more and more reasons to cut down on its use.

Plastics in Teabags


-  they are sealed with polypropylene - to maintain shape - but when composted or binned, they are releasing yet another tiny bit of un-biodegradeable plastic into  the earth, you can actually see a ghost-like shape left behind after the tea has composted!  Best to avoid, or bin the tea  bag, and compost the leaves.

- Japanese-style pyramid teabags are made of biodegradeable corn startch.

- The very best option is loose, organic and fairly-traded tea.

- is a blog with up to date research, comparing teas and bags, and idiosyncrasies.

- the co-op lead in researching a totally plastic-free teabag, hopefully with us in 2019.  CLIPPER TEAS HAVE JUST STARTED SELLING THEIR UNBLEACHED, NON-GM, PLASTIC-FREE TEABAGS, they say they are the world's first.



We've noticed how many rags end up being burnt in the incinerator at Battlefield.  Unnecessary waste, as all the 16 charity shops in Shrewsbury can earn extra money from selling on their rags to rag merchants, who can sell on for  re-manufacture for texitle products like carpet underlay etc.  To help the charities out, please make sure whether you are giving them clothes and white goods, or rags, and label the bag so it's clear. They ask that no-one leaves any bags outside their premises after closing time, as these canNOT be used due to possible contamination.   See also clothes.

Recycle now

Website packed with info on recycling, composting etc.also for schools.

Recycling in Shropshire

'Shropshire now recycles,re-uses or composts 50.9% of our household waste.  Very small fluctuations over recent years.  As well as recycling,  a lot of rubbish is now diverted for energy production via Incineration.

 We have come a long way since 2002/3, when  96% of Shropshire's waste went to landfill.

All 5 of Shropshire's household recycling centres are open 9-5, 7 days per week. But not Christmas, Boxing or New Year's Day.


Take back your Ecover cleaning product plastic bottles for refilling - to  Pomona,Castle Gates.(see Food Section).  (Ecover washing-up  containers are now made of 100% recycled PCR plastic, and by end of 2019, all their bottles will be.)


sells recycled, mended, used furniture

Unit 4, Knights Park
Battlefield Enterprise Park

Rubbish Diet Challenge

 Whether it’s a space issue and you can’t get everything in your bin, your wheelie bin smells because of rotting food or you just can’t stand our throw away lifestyle, the Rubbish Diet challenge will help to solve your waste problems. It's like a slimming club for your bin, shrinking what you send to landfill, saving you money and once your bin is slim - you’ll never have to panic about missing bin day again!!

The Diet is really easy to do.  All you have to do is keep track of what you throw away and then find ways of making that waste disappear by recycling it, finding other uses for it or just avoiding it all together.  You’ll find solutions that work for you with the help of other Dieters in your group and from your local Bin Doctor, so check out the website.


Salop Computer Centre

recycle and sell refurbished laptops, tablets etc.

01743 233550


Recycles hard plastic cups

Try out a Bamboo toothbrush. Completely recyclable!


Open 10-5 Wed. 10-4 Thurs,Fri and Sat
Collects worthwhile scrap and sorts and stores it in their shops, then sells it to members, who use it in art and craft activities to benefit the education of children. Scrappies also run workshops so children and adults can learn about recycling and reusing materials whilst creating with a local artist. (They will receive any new and interesting stock, and suggest you get in touch by phone first.)  or

1 Sherratt Court,
Beaumont Road,
Church Stretton,
01694 328 508

Severn Hospice Superstore

Receive and sell homewares, bric a brac, books, linen handbags, shoes and jewellery, clothing, electrical items, small furniture, collectables and antiques. CDs, DVDs, toys and games.    Mon-Sat  9 - 5

They have a separate  large furniture  store.  01743 364157.

Beacalls Lane,
01743 211075


can be repaired and resoled, at a fraction of the original purchase cost. Most charity shops or clothes banks will be able to reuse or recycle them. Or Clarks, in Pride Hill Shopping Centre, will recycle for UNICEF.

Shrewsbury Food Hub

The Shrewsbury Food Hub is an umbrella group for charities and projects in Shrewsbury/Shropshire that feed people as part of their daily work and who can benefit from donations of surplus food from local companies. We aim to cut down Shropshire's food waste and help conserve our planet's natural resources

Cwm Harry
Unit H, Vastre Industrial Estate
01686 626234

shrewsbury furniture scheme aka HOME Essentials

in Monkmoor donate or retrieve used  furniture, including electricals


see detail under FURNITURE

Shrewsbury Repair Cafe

Broken toaster, hoover, trousers with a broken zip cluttering up your house? Bring them to the repair cafe and our friendly volunteers will help you repair them.

01743 366771

shropshire council

See also

Ring the Customer Service Centre - 0345 678 9007.

Shropshire Council Business help

Several departments deal with matters relevant to businesses. Comprehensive information is available on commercial waste and recycling issues including schemes for dealing with particular materials. The Economic Development Team is able to provide advice on various aspects of business development. Grants are available for implementation of travel plans and to help businesses connected with tourism.

Shropshire Upholstery

Anthony Tipton does complete restoration, re-upholstery service, custom built options on bar seating, fixed seating for pubs, clubs & hotels.



01952 770271


The use of a one-off card/plastic cup, containing a hot beverage -  is not sustainble - as that container that cannot be recycled or reused and the plastic component will be around in landfill for possibly centuries!.  The only sensible option is to sit in a cafe for 10 mins, or take your own re-usable container,  There is a plethora of these in Shrewsbury shops - metal, plastic, bamboo - these latter can be composted after a few years, have silicone lids and can be purchased in pretty patterns all over Shrewsbury.  You can also ask for a price reduction for using your own container in a takeaway coffee shop, or station buffet.  Starbucks sell a reusable cup for £1, and offer a small reduction on price if people bring their own.

INSPIRATIONAL  --  CONCORD COLLEGE students use thermal mugs, as they have taken a stand against single-use paper/plastic coffee cups.  They have launched a thermal reusable mug which has proved very popular and is now used by staff and students through the college - they bought their own! They had been using around 3,500 paper cups per week, estimated at a weight of 1.4 tonnes of rubbish peryear!  And now - none! This is surely something that could be replicated at every workplace.

 Winchester University collected used chewing gum (made of plastic!), on campus, and upcycled these into coffee cups!

If the situation of using once-only is really unavoidable, at least in Pershore sell biodegradeable compostable one-use cutlery and containers, cups, bags etc, for the catering trade.


Smile Plastics

Smile Plastics make visually interesting  recycled plastic 'board' from which beautiful work surfaces, bird-tables, furniture etc can be made.

Soil And Rubble

There is a specific skip for this at Battlefield Household Recycling Centre..


Can be reglazed.  Battlefield  HRC and  most opticians accept old pairs (in good condition), or they can be posted for reuse to:
Vision Aid Overseas, 12, The Bell Centre, Manor Royal, Crawley, RH 10 2F2.  T: 01293 535 016    W:
(Sorting and packing these provides work for UK prisoners).


The Shirehall, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Oxfam and Red Cross shops will receive them. Also, to help save the endangered albatross, Pontesbury post office. Or send UK and foreign stamps separately to: RSPB stamps, PO Box 6198, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, LU7 9XT. Also, local charity Omega care for life (see coins and currency for details)


re-conditioned Kitchen appliances, vacuum cleaners etc. Repairs and replacement parts.

60 Mardol
01743 355752

Tea Bags

Annually we use 60.2 billion tea bags. You may not be aware that some tea bags contain PLASTIC. All conventional tea bag brands use polypropylene, a sealing plastic, to keep them from falling apart.

DON'T COMPOST them, not in your own compost bin or with food waste. (Tea pigs,Twinings Loose Leaf,Pukka Herbs,Aldi's Special Selection, and Waitrose Duchy brands are OK ). Clipper -The Fairtrade co. will launch a completely plastic-free tea bag once current stocks are sold - to reduce waste.

You could always cut open the bag to compost the spent tea, or buy loose leaf and use a diffuser or teapot.

Telephone Directories

Can go in the kerbside paper boxes and paper banks, along with Yellow Pages.


See Home and Garden section.


TerraCycle upcycles and recycles traditionally non-recycable waste packaging (including coffee packaging, biscuit wrappers, baby food pouches, baby wipes packaging, writing instruments and many more) into a large variety of consumer products. These products keep waste out of our landfills and contribute to a cleaner world.  See the Shrewsbury United Reformed Church (below) who will receive certain hard-to-recycle plastics.

0800 0470 984


 & other brands of paper-based Liquid Food & Drinks Cartons, There used to be  skips at around 25 sites in Shropshire.  Now, all that remain are  the 5 main Household Recycling Centres for Shropshire, as they were removed, along with all the other bring banks, as a cost- and rubbish-removing decision by the Shropshire County Council.  They can't be recycled with the kerbside cardboard and paper.

Textiles and Clothes

Take  clean clothing, bedlinen and  textiles - even clean rags and shoes to Charity shops, where they are bought by the public for re-use  or sold on to textile dealers who sort for re-use or recycling.  Or put in textile skips at supermarkets, or at Battlefield HRC .
(Please don’t put in duvets or pillows or rugs – these could be offered to Home Essentials, if in good condition, or local dog’s homes.)

Seconds Out, Bomere Heath, Shrewsbury SY4 3AP.  T: 01939 290272 have been collecting in bulk for 30 years, (from charity shops, car boots sales and in the past, jumble sales) - clean clothes, rags, bedlinen and shoes, mostly for reuse in developing countries.


The National Industrial Symbiosis Programme

Aims to put businesses wanting to throw something away in touch with some one who might want that waste to create savings for both.

The People's Design Lab

An opportunity to think about good product design, where waste is designed out.  Waste is a design flaw.  And to consider really wasteful products in daily use that could just be designed to be re-used, re-manufactured, etc.


These used to be made of paper - nowadays, and not many people realize this, they are coated with a toxic plastic, to thermally print,as opposed to using inks!  So, please bin them, don't compost or recycle them, and ideally don't even handle, but if you have to, wash the fibres off your skin.  And don't give them to little kids to play with!

tin (steel) cans

The brilliant thing about both steel and aluminium cans is that they can be recycled and processed into cans again, infinitely recyclable, with no loss of quality.  Tin cans are magnetic, made of steel plate, heavier than aluminium, cheaper to mine, and good at containing acidic foods like tomatoes. They've been around since 1810.  REcycle them, washed, at the kerbside collection. Also aerosol cans.

Tools & Sewing Machines

Tools and sewing machines, especially hand machines – are refurbished and sent to Africa by Tools for Self Reliance  -  01743 341912  -  John Riley. For  South Shropshire -  01588 640550.

Tools are sent to particular projects, who train local artisans in vocational, business and life skills.  This enables them to start their own business or find employment.  Those projects promote self-worth and empower people to work themselves out of poverty - providing a sustainable long-term solution to themselves and their families.

See a list of tools the charity accepts on website.



see Toy Library above, and  in Family & Leisure section. Or charity shops. Also Battlefield HRC.


A charity which recycles and remakes textiles into new clothes, sold in their London shops or online, to fund health and education projects abroad.
Also does education projects in the Uk on making new clothes from used.

020 8733 2580

Turtle Doves

 Handmade accessories, fingerless gloves, hats, snoods and more, all made from pre-loved jumpers, often cashmere. See  them at Made in Shropshire and Farmers Markets.  There's a list of current stockists on the website, including their shop on Castle Gates, Shrewsbury.


01743 344702


Can be recycled at the Household Recycling Centres e.g Battlefield. Never ever burn old tyres, they give off toxic fumes. If you buy new, the supplier should take your old ones and correctly dispose

United Reformed Church

Will accept small HARD-TO-RECYCLE plastic items for recycling ;  Any biscuit and cake-bar and mini Cheddars wrappers. Any crisp bags. All toothpaste tubes, brushes, brush heads.  Many beauty products - packs, pumps,trigger sprays. Old plastic roll-on deodorant containers.  Face-washtubes.   Ink jet and toner Cartridges. These can be taken (separated by type please)  to the Church Office Mon - Fri (10-00 to 13-30) .  See also who recycle all sorts of small plastic items, not usually recyclable.


English Bridge
01743 368932


Veolia is the waste and recycling contractor for Shropshire Council, and is responsible for collecting waste and recycling materials from 140,000 homes across Shropshire (46,000 homes in Shrewsbury).

Recycling collected at the kerbside and from the Household Recycling Centres is taken to various re-processors to be turned into new materials.  Any materials that can't be recycled are taken to the Energy Recovery Facility, (the Incinerator at Battlefield) where they are burnt to produce energy,  (which is the equivalent to power up to 10,000 homes). This energy is then sold to the National Grid for general consumption.

Bolingbroke House, Vanguard Way,
Battlefield Enterprise Park,
01743 452150

Water Filters

All parts of the Brita Cartridge are 100% recyclable - Argos, Meole Brace, can receive them (and old catalogues) for recycling.
Also Dunelm, Sundorne Retail Park and Boots.


 A new textile process - an ecostitching technology which allows garments to be selectively disassembled at end of life, the seams can be processed to fall apart, and then the garments can be re-used in various ways.



A firm that collect and recycle electrical waste safely:

Wellie Boots

Plastic or rubber, put  in clothes recycling banks

Wood & Timber

Take used wood to Battlefield HRC for recycling, or reuse.
Shropshire Community Wood Recycling. (Phone first). 01939 235701   M: 07999 576054  E:  -  based in Whitchurch, collects over 20-mile radius, sell wood, recycle and make wooden garden items. 
 Pallets to Palaces - http//: tell you how to make beds, boxes etc from salvaged wooden pallets.

Headway Shropshire, Holsworth Park, Oxon Business Park, Shrewsbury SY3 5HJ    01743 365271 need good wood (not MDF) for their woodwork workshop to make bird boxes, small toys, etc.

NEW - the Woodstore, 25 Upper Dock St,  Newport (S.Wales) T: 02920 519000 sells all things made with recycled wood by adults with learning difficulties.

Shed-Masters, 6 Centurion Park, Kendal Road, SY1 4EH. 01743 466328
Sells wooden containers for 2 bins and recycling boxes.

Jesent (local) make recycling box stores, composters, wooden units,  07527 899008 .


Easy to waste at this time, make your own presents, recycle wrappings, buy recycled goods.

See or  0207 490 1555
to buy a pack of FoE’s sticky labels to put over last year’s cards and re-send.  Put out with kerbside paper collection.

Christmas Trees
Annually, we buy (and later discard) 5 million of these! Buy a rooted tree for replanting, or, afterwards, leave out for the kerbside garden waste collection - please note: their max. length needs to be 5’ or 1.5m.

Yellow Pages

Can be recycled along with your normal paper.

Yoghurt Pots

Yoghurt pots and tops can now be recycled with plastic bottles at your kerbside collection.

Z - to biodgrade, to degrade or to compost ?? the issue - PLASTICS

In the 21st Century drive for sustainability, the concept of biodegradable plastics  seems fantastic. The iconic man-made product reverting to nature seems too good to be true. And, of course, like anything that seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Biodegradable plastics do exist, of course, made from agricultural materials or made by modifying conventional petrochemical based materials. Now, for the sake of simplicity I have ignored the degradable plastics based on oil, as they use more energy than normal products as well as exhibiting the other problems mentioned below. But, rest assured, any claims of biodegradable plastic eco-efficiency are based more on politics and economics than mathematics. So let’s look at the big picture.

Most scientists accept global warming is the biggest environmental threat to human life. We measure this by the carbon footprint over the lifecycle of a product or system. So, let’s consider the carbon footprint of some plastics products by comparing the lifecycle of a biodegradable plastic bag or bottle with one made from ‘traditional’ oil based plastics.
Oil is pumped from the ground, refined into plastic and made into a product. It uses energy to make the transformation of course and this can be added to the energy embedded in the oil itself.
Alternatively, corn is grown by a farmer who uses energy to drive his tractors and chemicals to spray the plants. After harvesting the corn is converted to a plastic product by an industrial process, which itself uses more energy.
We can calculate the total amount of energy expended in making a bottle or bag.
If the packaging is oil based it probably weighs less than the biodegradable alternative so an allowance has to be made for this. Few independent eco-audits have been conducted on biodegradable plastic products though, and we still have yet to discover the true eco-footprint made by agro-sourced plastics. Some bio-sourced plastics are based on a waste product from the agricultural industries, such as bagasse from sugarcane fibres, and claim a zero carbon footprint, others are made from foodstuffs.
When the packaging has fulfilled its primary function it becomes waste, and that’s where it gets interesting.
Most waste in the UK ends up in a landfill site, so let’s consider what happens once the stuff gets buried. Oil based plastics may take centuries to degrade but until then they stay inert, just like a lump of rock or stainless steel. In other words they have no further effect on the environment.
The biodegradable bag or bottle on the other hand starts to degrade relatively quickly (although nowhere near as quickly as the manufacturers claim – just try it if you don’t believe me). It biodegrades, not just to carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (as there is little oxygen in a landfill site), but to other chemicals that escape as complex molecules and gases, normally methane.
Methane is one of the powerful ‘global warming’ gases, about 24 times more damaging than CO2. Recent EU directives relating to landfill sites acknowledge this by limiting and restricting the amount of biodegradables (especially garden refuse) going to landfill. There are other significant issues with biodegradables in landfills including land instability and leachates into the water table.

So, which is better, a bottle in a landfill site that has no further in
fluence on the environment, or one that biodegrades to a harmful global warming gas?

What about recycling?
And as we recycle more and more waste, including plastics bottles and bags, one of the well-established uses of old polyethylene bags and film is to be recycled in to black builders’ film to be used as damp-proofing.
Imagine what would happen if biodegradable bags get mixed into this recycling stream.
The recycler can’t differentiate between the biodegradable bag and the standard one so he makes and sells the sheets that then gets used under a
floor in a new building. This is the ideal situation for degradation to start and the film develops a hole and no longer is a water barrier, the house gets a damp patch and no-one knows why.
So the presence of biodegradable plastic carrier bags in the recycling waste stream is seriously impacting the recycling industry.
In some countries where biodegradable bottles have already been introduced, major problems are being encountered by the recyclers who have already taken billions of bottles out of the waste stream for recycling.
“Hang-on”, I hear you say, “these biodegradable bottles can be put in the green waste collection bins to be composted?!”
Well, yes, they can, but the guys doing the composting remove any plastic and discard it for landfill as they cannot differentiate biodegradable from traditional plastic.
Biodegradable plastics sound wonderful, but are largely a brilliant marketing concept. If landfilled they contribute greatly to global warming, if recycled they are a major hindrance to the existing recycling schemes we have battled so hard to encourage.
Biodegradable plastics will have their uses, of course, but only when their end uses are clearly identified. One is as the bags for local authorities to collect garden refuse for composting. Ordinary polythene bags are normally used, but as they don’t biodegrade, they have to be emptied of their contents, either by the collectors or at the composting facility. Biodegradable bags would be excellent for this application, able to be properly composted and unlikely to enter the recycling stream.
If you can think of any other suitable uses, please let me know, but until then: please don’t use them, don’t recycle them and don’t tell me how wonderful they are.

About the author: Colin Williamson is technical consultant at Smile Plastics, a dedicated plastics recycler.

Zero Waste - part of Cwm Harry

This is what we should be striving for – many towns, cities and countries (including Bishops Castle in Shropshire and Presteigne, just over the border) have made this their ambition – why not Shrewsbury? This movement is growing, globally -  it is for local small-scale, community-led initiatives, based on questioning consumption, reducing waste, and reusing and  recycling everything - nature doesn't waste a thing!           

ZERO WASTE PRESTEIGNE and NORTON, just over the border - the 2012 Community Recycler of the Year award winners achieve nearly 80% of domestic waste, by slow recycling, with very community-based involvement.  See their inspiring website, at Cwm Harry, who have developed a closed-loop economy.