Recycling other items

Although the common culture right now is to only recycle items made from a single type of material, more complex items can be broken down through processes of various levels of intricacy, depending on the number of materials and the difficulty posed by separating them.


Single use batteries

With a very broad array of small electronics forming part of our everyday lives, these batteries are used in substantial numbers by every household on regular basis. From cameras and modern toys to electrical hygiene products such as shavers, single-use batteries provide a good alternative to conventional electricity, especially in locations or at times where it is not available. Single-use batteries come in a few variations and qualities, in terms of size and durability; most of them are AA, AAA and 9v batteries.

Before they are recycled they can be reused with the aid of special chargers which are available on the market. Then they can be deposited in bins one can usually find near public facilities, such as supermarkets. They are partially recycled in the UK , with the remainders being sent abroad for further processing.

Recycling Batteries

Rechargeable batteries

These batteries are also used constantly in a varied range of applications, from mobile phones and laptops to toothbrushes. They are usually discarded with the product they power, when it becomes damaged (unusable) or it is no longer wanted. They cannot all be recycled as they differ greatly in their chemical composition, yet part of them can, namely those based on lead, cadmium and lithium.

In some areas of the US, sending rechargeable batteries to landfill is actually prohibited. An effort to recycle them, whenever possible, should be made due to the sheer number of products incorporating them and the constant demand for these products, some of them being indispensable to modern existence.

Car batteries

Lead acid batteries are fairly easy to recycle and the whole process can be completed in the UK. One can take used car batteries to local collection points, garages or car scrap yards, from where they will be sent to recycling facilities. Their content is highly pollutant and very dangerous to humans, which is why they are regarded as hazardous waste and handles as such. They should never be placed inside a general waste container.


In the event that it is functional or at least repairable, old furniture should never go to waste. Many charities collect furniture for people in need, with a precarious financial situation, such as those fleeing domestic violence or other kinds of abuse or distress. Before being donated, it should always be repaired and checked in order to ensure it meets British safety standards, such as those related to flammability. Used office furniture could be provided to starting businesses which don’t have enough capital available for furnishing.

Building materials

When renovating (which often involves the removal of certain materials) or demolishing a building, items which could be reused or recycled are often thrown away, as the main focus is replacing them with new ones and not where the old ones end up. If you have spare building materials, such as planks (which are in good condition) or bricks, they can be used for new building projects such as a conservatory or garden landscaping. Other items can be taken to architectural salvage yards, if they are in a suitable condition for reselling.

They can also be broken down into their constituting materials, such as wood, metal, glass etc. and be taken to recycling canters which deal with those specific types. There are also materials which pose certain removal difficulties, such as asbestos, which is safe enough in solid form, yet if taken apart, asbestos fibres are very toxic when inhaled. This problem is quite common as it has been intensely used for roofing all across the UK and many roofs are still made from it to this day. Asbestos can be safely removed by professionals, who can often be located through a reference from your local council.

Printer cartridges

Manufacturing new printer cartridges from raw materials has a negative impact on the environment as it uses a fair amount of energy; therefore reusing and recycling them is very beneficial. First, cartridges can be reused by refilling them with new ink or toner, which can be done manually by anyone owning a printer, with the aid of a syringe. There will usually be some temporary hand staining involved, yet the benefits are certainly worth it.

When you suspect that your cartridge is damaged (for instance leaking) or provides a lesser quality, it will have to be replaced in order to avoid damage to your printer. Not necessarily with a new one though – remanufactured cartridges are always tested before being put back on the market and work just as well. Printer cartridge recycling bins can be found in some key locations for their collection, usually outside of schools and universities.

After being transported to recycling facilities, they are sorted according to a number of criteria and then broken down into components. The condition of those components is evaluated and those no longer functional are replaced with new ones. The cartridges are then reassembled, repackaged and sent back to retailers. Needless to say, buying remanufactured cartridges is substantially more economic as well.

Engine oil and paint

The chemical composition of these products incorporates highly toxic elements, which is why extreme care must be taken when disposing of unwanted amounts. It is irresponsible to pour them down kitchen drains or drains in general or pour them into streams, rivers, lakes or any water body at all. The best thing to do with these liquids is to donate them by taking them to certain oil or paint collection facilities to be forwarded to those who can use them.

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Did You Know?

spacer According to Defra, each person in England produced an average of 457 Kilograms of waste in 2009-10. Of this, an average of about 181 Kilograms per person was recycled. That left 60% of un-recycled waste, at an average of 276 kilograms per person.

From Protect Our Environment