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Could Your Family Be Recycling More Paper And Cardboard

September 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Living

recycling cardIt’s estimated that the typical British family throws a staggering six trees’ worth of paper in the household bin each week – with a colossal 12.5 million tonnes of cardboard and paper used each year in the UK. Could your family be doing more to recycle card and paper? And why should they be recycling?

Recycling paper and card is important because the alternatives – burying waste in a landfill site or burning it in an incinerator – are very bad for the environment. When products are made using recycled material rather than virgin wood, the amount of CO2 released is almost always reduced – and CO2 is, of course, a greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming. These days all manner of everyday products can be made from recycled paper: from food packaging and birthday cards to office essentials such as printer paper and cheap business cards.

Methane is another gas that causes global warming. It’s released when biodegradable material, including card and paper, breaks down at a landfill site. Reducing the amount of material going to landfill therefore cuts the amount of harmful methane generated. There may not even be much room left in which to bury waste – it’s estimated that by 2017, the UK’s landfill sites could be full!

By recycling, your family will help Britain reach targets set by the EU. A 2008 policy called the ‘Waste Framework Directive’ calls for at least 50% of all European household waste to be recycled by 2020. At the moment Britain only recycles 39% of its waste.

How can you and your family cut down on the amount of cardboard used? Buying products that don’t use excessive packaging is a good way to start, as annually we use 8 million tonnes of card packaging. When shopping, you could check for a logo that tells you if a product’s packaging is made from recycled card (see image), and the percentage of recycled material used.

Buying products from companies using a high percentage of recycled material puts pressure on suppliers, persuading them to source environmentally friendly manufacturers.

You can also make sure that every member of your family is aware of the household card and paper recycling container, provided free by most local authorities, and that they use it for paper waste instead of throwing it in the regular bin.

Birthdays, and especially Christmas, are occasions on which a huge amount of waste paper is generated. In fact, an estimated 200,000 trees are cut down to produce the more than a billion Christmas cards sent in the UK each year. When the festive season is over you can help protect the environment, and raise money for charity, by dropping cards off at a recycling point. These are run every year by many supermarkets – a joint project between Morrisons and the Salvation Army in 2010, for example, saw a massive 13.7 million cards recycled, and 187 tonnes of waste saved from landfill.

So what are you waiting for? Get recycling folks!

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