Why tackle waste?

The UK produces enough waste to fill the Albert Hall every two hours. How many of us think about that? The waste problem in the UK is largely unseen – out of sight, out of mind in landfills.

Landfill space is running out

Government and industry have taken steps to minimise the broader environmental impact of landfill sites.

These sites are specially sealed so surrounding land and waterways are not contaminated. Methane gas, produced when organic waste rots, is drawn from landfill sites to make electricity.

However, the simple fact is landfill space is running out. 

Each year in the UK, some 100 million tonnes of waste are produced from households, commerce and industry. 

As workers and consumers, we can all help tackle the UK’s waste problem by thinking more carefully about how much we buy and how we tackle our waste. 

A problem we can all help solve

To keep a check on waste, there are three simple principles you can follow - reduce, reuse, recycle. 

  • Reducing the amount of stuff you consume has the greatest benefits for the planet. It’s best to avoid waste in the first place, so think more carefully about your purchases.
  • Reusing items saves the natural resources and energy needed to manufacture new ones—as well as saving money.
  • Recycling (or composting) enables your old stuff to be turned into something new, rather than just thrown away.

Did you know?

  • Britain throws away about £20 billion worth of unused food every year – equal to five times our spending on international aid and enough to lift 150 million people out of starvation. (The Independent 15 April 2004.)
  • By recycling cans, we reduce the need for mining bauxite, from which aluminium is extracted. Recycling aluminium uses around 95 per cent less energy than the equivalent aluminium made from scratch. (Source: International Aluminium Institute)
  • England and Wales produce 400 million tonnes of waste every year. (Environment Agency)
  • Scotland produces more than 3.3 million tonnes of waste each year, of which more than 2.6 million tonnes are collected from households. (Waste Aware Scotland) 
  • Scotland recycles only 6 per cent of its waste, among the worst rates in Europe. (Defra)