Energy efficient and money saving Christmas tips
Lower your carbon footprint and save a few pennies with these green Christmas tips.
Get a real Christmas tree
Millions of real Christmas trees are bought each year in the UK. According to the Carbon Trust, a real Christmas tree has a significantly lower carbon footprint than an artificial tree, especially if it is disposed of properly by chipping or burning. If you buy it locally, you are being greener still. The website of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association allows you to search for where you can buy a tree near your home.
Make your own Christmas tree decorations
From painted pine cones and salt dough figures, to dried orange slices and threaded popcorn, there’s a host of great decorations you can make at home. It’s a chance to have fun and bond with the children, and it will make each decoration special. It will also save you a few pennies.
Make your artificial Christmas tree last
If you do buy an artificial Christmas tree, use it for as many years as possible. The Carbon Trust states you need to use an artificial tree for around 10 years for its environmental impact to be lower than a real tree. How about getting a pre-loved one from a website like Ebay or Gumtree?
Recycle your Christmas tree
Don’t let your Christmas tree end up in landfill. Contact your local council or go to their website to see if they recycle real Christmas trees. Many will organise drop-off points in the weeks after New Year where you can leave them to be chipped.
Don’t waste food, make good use of leftovers
Most households buy in extra food over Christmas but if you are not careful much of this can go to waste and join the 5m tonnes of food we throw away each year in this country. Try and plan, so you are left with as little surplus food as possible. And, as we all know, there are countless options for Turkey leftovers. Why not prepare something for a neighbour or elderly person who lives nearby, if you have had enough of turkey yourself?
Buy less plastic
There’s always a must-have plastic toy every year Christmas comes round but do your children really need it? They are made from non-recyclable materials and are normally shipped great distances. It has been estimated that buying three less electronic toys and gadgets at Christmas and purchasing books instead can save more than 122kg CO2 in emissions. You can also seek out ethical toys and gifts like these found on the Friends of the Earth website. With so much thrown away, you are also likely to find gifts and stocking-fillers in charity shops.
If you would like to discuss a waste management issue with us, please contact us on our 24-hour hotline 01787 221 664
Two thirds of all consumer plastic packaging still sent to landfill or incineration says report
The rate of recycling for plastic packaging remains below the national average for all household waste. Lack of consumer knowledge and facilities are holding it back.
Two thirds of all plastic packaging used for consumer products in the UK is being sent to landfill or incineration with only one third being recycled, according to a new report.
The figures compiled by the Co-op show that only half a million of the 1.5million tonnes of recyclable plastic waste created every year is being reused as intended.
This puts the rate of recycling of consumer plastics below the national average recycling rate of all waste from households, which sits at 45%. There is an EU target for the UK to recycle at least 50% of household waste by 2020.
A lack of knowledge about which plastics can be recycled
The supermarket chain says when it comes to recycling plastics there is a lack of knowledge among consumers about which packaging can be recycled. It also says many local authorities lack the facilities to recycle all plastic packaging.
It found that while 99.7% of local authorities across the UK recycled plastic bottles, only 76% collected hard plastics, such as meat trays and yogurt tubs, and only 18 % collect plastic film like bags for rice and pasta, cereal box liners, toilet and kitchen roll packaging.
The report also found that 59% of the people surveyed were unsure about whether they could recycle plastic pots, tubs and trays.
The Co-op says it has an ambition to make 80% of all its packaging able to be recycled by 2020 and is calling on other retailers to also develop new packaging.
Government intervention required to improve plastics recycling
Here at Albany we commend this sentiment but also agree with industry body Recoup that more needs to be done if plastic recycling rates are to be drastically improved.
Recoup, which is the UK’s leading authority on plastics waste and resource management, has called for robust government policies in these areas that are not just implemented but also financially backed. This means supporting the market for the procurement of recycled plastic and ensuring that plastic that is recycled is of the quantity and quality needed to meet manufacturing sector requirements, within sensible and justifiable business arrangements.
Recoup has also called for more plastics from other sectors to be recycled including bulky household plastic products, and plastics from waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and end of life vehicles.
If your business has a waste disposal issue then please contact us on our 24-hour phone 01787 221 664.
Why we should all dispose of waste properly and the dire consequences if we don’t
Polluted groundwater, damage to wildlife and harmful greenhouse gas emissions are just some of the results of improper waste management.
As a leading recycling and waste management company, our day-to-day work is focused on managing technical and hazardous waste in an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable manner.
But we have also witnessed first-hand the damage that can be done and the pollution that can be caused if waste is not disposed of properly. Here’s a few examples of the dire consequences of not managing waste in the correct way.
The most immediate example of improper waste disposal is litter. Environmental body Keep Britain Tidy estimates that more than 30million tons of litter is found on the streets in England every year.
It is a blight on everyone’s life with almost six in 10 people considering litter to be a problem. Local authorities across the country are reported to spend £1billion a year dealing with the problem.
And it’s not just humans who are affected. The RSPCA says on average it receive 14 calls a day about animals injured or caught by litter. Waste balloons, glass jars, tin cans, plastic bags can choke, cut, or suffocate wild animals if they are not disposed of properly.
Waste industrial liquids and solvents can cause serious health issues if not disposed of in the correct way. They can leech into the ground water and pollute drinking supplies or contaminate the water used to water crops.
A growing problem is so-called e-waste – that is old electronic devices such as mobile phones and computers, which contain toxins, such as heavy metals and other chemicals like mercury, cadmium and beryllium. These can leach into the ground and water supplies, and in large enough doses have been proven to causing kidney and liver damage and impaired mental development.
Decomposing waste can produce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), which contribute to global climate change. When it comes to waste the most significant GHG gas produced is methane.
Waste prevention and recycling help address global climate change by decreasing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and saving energy.
If you would like to discuss a waste management issue with us, please contact us on our 24-hour hotline 01787 221 664 or see here to find out more about how we can help you dispose of your waste properly.
Five ways you can save energy this winter
There’s no denying that winter is on its way. With the temperature is falling and the clocks have gone back, we are now experiencing colder and longer nights.
All this means we will be spending more time inside, and using more energy to light and heat the home. There are, however, a number of simple measures you can take to save energy over the cold months, and at the same time save money on your bills and be more environmentally-friendly into the bargain.
Turn your thermostat down
It’s tempting to turn your heating thermostat up when the temperature outside starts to drop. But that is the wrong way to go about things. You don’t need it to be sweltering inside, just comfortable. It is recommended that the minimum temperature you need to stay comfortable is around 18°C and that for every degree lowered you save around £65 per year.
Instead of turning up the temperature, put on a jumper, invest in a thicker winter duvet or go for a walk and get the blood pumping.
Insulate your home
Insulation can make a huge difference to the amount of energy you require to heat your home. If you already have lagging around your pipes and sufficient insulation in the loft, there are other measures you can take. If you are in an older house you could consider installing wall and floor installation. On a timber floor, you could probably install insulation yourself for about £100 and the saving would be around £60 a year off your fuel bill – meaning you will have paid it off in less than two years and your toes will be warmer too.
Don’t heat empty rooms
Try and use less rooms during the winter, so you have to heat less of the house. A typical house will have rooms that are not used that often – a dining room, a spare bedroom, a playroom. Turn off the radiators in these rooms and close the door. You could consider putting draught excluders along the bottom of the doors to prevent heat from the main house escaping.
Go draught hunting
You can have some fun with this one. Take a tour of the house and find spots where there is a nasty draught where cold air is getting in and lowering the overall temperature of the house.
Typical places for draughts are around windows where you can use draught-proofing strips between the window and frame, and doors where simple things like adding a keyhole cover or a letterbox flap can help enormously.
Use energy-saving bulbs
According to the Energy Saving Trust, there are two main types of energy efficient light bulbs available in the UK. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).
CFLs are a cost-effective option for most general lighting requirements. Replacing a traditional light bulb with a CFL of the same brightness will save you about £5 per year, or £70 over the lifetime of the bulb.
LEDs are available to fit both types of fittings and are particularly good for replacing spotlights and dimmable lights. By replacing all halogen downlights in your home with LED alternatives, you could save about £35 a year on your electricity bills.
If you would like to discuss this or any other waste management issue, please do not hesitate to call us on 01787 221 664.
Is this the solution to the blight of cigarette butt littering?
Our concern for the environment does not just end with the safe disposal of commercial materials. In our view, protection of the environment and sustainable living is a mindset that extends to every facet of life – and one area where we as a society can improve is in the amount of litter we cause.
One form of litter that impacts practically every street, park and beach in this country is cigarette butts. The Keep Britain Tidy charity estimates more than 244million of them are dropped in the UK every year – that adds up to an incredible 104 tonnes of butts.
Deadly for marine life…
Worldwide the figure is even more staggering with 5 trillion cigarette butts becoming litter every year. Organisers of the International Coastal Cleanup initiative have found that cigarettes and cigarette butts constitute 30% of all litter found on beaches – twice as much as any other category of rubbish. And this litter can carry a deadly payload of carcinogens and nicotine that is found in all tobacco products. Research has revealed that one cigarette butt soaked in a litre of water for 96 hours leaches out enough toxins to kill half of the fresh or salt water fish exposed to them.
A new (biodegradable) hope?
What’s more – traditional butts are made from a non-biodegradable plastic – a synthetic polymer cellulose acetate that takes more than a decade to break-up. That’s where a new product called Greenbutts hopes to make a difference. Greenbutts’ filters are manufactured from a blend of natural materials, such as flax, hemp and cotton that, because they contain no chemicals or artificial binders, biodegrade naturally. It’s an advancement that, it is hoped, will halt the build-up of discarded cigarettes butts in our environment.
The product is patent-pending and it is hoped they will be available soon. Of course, the best solution would be for people to stop littering with cigarette butts in the first instance but, in the meantime, we think this is a step in the right direction.
If you would like to discuss this or any other waste management issue, please do not hesitate to call us on 01787 221 664.
UK Statistics on Waste – infographic
Recycling is important and we may be better at it than you think. The majority of recycling done in the United Kingdom is done by statutory authorities although commercial and industrial waste is mainly processed by private companies just like us. We have had a look at some key UK statistics on waste and recycling; click to see the infographic we created on our findings.
The Household Waste Recycling Act 2003 requires local authorities to provide every household in England with a separate collection of at least two types of recyclable materials by 2010. This may be the cause of the increase in recycling across the country. We have already surpassed our 2020 target of non-hazardous construction waste to be recovered by 16.5%. Our other areas of recycling are improving also; the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill has reduced by over 75% over the last 11 years.
Obviously there is a long way to go but we find these statistics encouraging, feel free to download and share our infographic of key statistics from the Department for Environmental Food and Rural Affairs’ August 2016 release.
Five ways you can reduce food waste
Here at Albany we are interested in how as a society we can live sustainably. One area where we can all improve is reducing food waste in our homes. Reports show Britons throw away 4.2 million tonnes of edible food every year. This equates to six meals a week for every household.
Being disciplined when you go shopping for food is one of the best ways to reduce waste. A good approach is to plan your meals and then draw up a shopping list accordingly. The idea is to buy only the food you need and not purchase food on a whim that will end up sitting on the shelf not being used.
This may mean going shopping more and buying less each time. Also try to purchase locally sourced produce and make the most of places like your local farmer’s market.
When we are cooking at home we tend to prepare far too much food for fear of not having enough. The result is that we overserve and end up throwing much of it away. Measuring out exact portion sizes before cooking or using smaller plates can help in this area. A Danish survey showed that if the plate size is reduced by just 9%, the food waste can be reduced by over 25%.
Don’t pack the fridge
Over-packing the fridge, so that food gets pushed to the back and forgotten about, is a symptom of over-shopping. Out of sight is out of mind, so try and keep items visible. One good idea is when you buy some new food items move the older ones to the front so they get used rather than be left hidden to fester.
Make a note of what you throw away
One way to find out how much food you waste is to keep a note of every food item you throw away without using it. Put a cost next to each item to fully understand the money we waste as well as the food. This will help you to analyse where you can cut down on waste.
Take best-by dates as a guide
Foods such as eggs, cheese and pasta can all be eaten after their best-by date, so don’t have to be thrown away. The NHS advises that a best-by date is only a guide to quality not safety, so can be ignored. Use your common sense – does the food look or smell good to eat, then it probably is. However, the NHS says it is more important to follow use-by dates, as these relate to food safety.
How recycled metal is used
Compared to using new metal, recycling metal products lowers production costs significantly and is much better for the environment.
According to trade association, the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), recycling metal also helps the UK economy. It says that last year, 10 million tonnes of metal was recycled in the UK. As the UK produces much more scrap than is required for domestic markets, 90% of this recycled metal was exported worldwide. This puts the UK among the top five largest metal scrap exporting countries in the world.
Here’s a guide to how some of the most commonly recycled metals are used:
Cans and aerosols
According to the HSE, each year the UK uses around 600 million aerosols, which is equivalent to about ten cans per person. With approximately 65% of aerosols made from tin-plated steel, and the rest from high-grade aluminium this represents almost 30,000 tonnes of reclaimable metal that can be recycled each year. Both aluminium and steel can be recycled indefinitely without losing quality.
Recycled aluminium and steel cans are shredded, melted and sold on to manufacturers. Aluminium can be used to make new cans, as well as for car and aeroplane construction due to its light weight.
New cans, bicycle frames, pipes and train tracks are just some of the products that can be made from recycled steel.
Steel can also be found in a vast number of everyday machinery and appliances from car bodies and white goods, such as washing machines and refrigerators, to construction materials, like mesh and reinforcing bars, and heavy machinery.
And because there is no limit to the number of times steel can be recycled and still maintain its quality, it can be put to use again making all the products and components mentioned above.
Copper mining is costly and involves a substantial amount of energy, therefore recycling helps save both. It is found in the structure of most homes and is in high demand at scrap yards.
Copper is a versatile metal and when recycled can be used for plumbing pipes, guttering and for electric wires.
Zinc is widely used for the galvanization of steel, which gives it a protective and anti-rust coating. Recycling of zinc, then, requires the separation of zinc from galvanized steel by heating it to a high temperature and separating it from the steel as a gas, which when treated becomes a dust.
The majority of this zinc will be used for galvanising steel. It is reported that approximately 40% of the zinc used worldwide comes from reclaimed zinc sources.
Seven ways we can reduce water waste
Reducing water waste is important because treating it is costly and overuse of water impacts the environment. Using water wisely will minimise the effects of a water shortage and help safeguard water supplies for future generations.
According to the Consumer Council for Water, the average UK household of four people uses over 400 litres of water per day. There are dozens of things we can do to reduce this water use in our homes. Here’s seven tips to get you started:
Take showers instead of baths
A four minute shower with a water efficient shower head uses around 32 litres while a full bath can use up to 80 litres – that’s a huge saving in water use. Trying taking shorter showers to conserve even more – use an alarm clock to let you know when your time is up. Why not try a Navy shower? With water in short supply on ships, sailors turn the water off while they soap themselves and shampoo.
Use a water-efficient shower head
Low-flow shower heads use half the water of standard shower heads but because they mix the water with air there is no discernible drop in pressure. They take seconds to screw onto standard fixtures and with many costing less than £30 can be paid for by the water saving within a year.
Fill dish washers and washing machines fully
Dishwashers and washing machines use the same amount of water regardless of how well you fill them. It makes sense, then, to fill them fully, which will help you cut down on the amount times you need to use them.
Don’t leave taps running
There are many instances where we tend to leave the tap on and water running unnecessarily. Turning the tap off while you brush your teeth can prevent litres of water flowing down the plughole, the same goes when you wash your hands. If you are washing dishes or washing vegetables – use a sink full of water because leaving the tap running will use up much more water.
Fill the kettle while you wait
Sometimes you have to run the tap to get the right temperature (hot or cold) of water. Don’t simply waste this water – use it water to fill your kettle or a watering can for houseplants
Don’t flush the toilet every time
Of course, there are instances when you have to flush the toilet but if you have just had a little tinkle then it can wait until someone else goes. Every time you resist the temptation to flush you save 5 litres of water.
Put a cistern displacement device in your toilet
Older toilets with large cisterns tend to use more water per flush. If you install a cistern displacement device you can save around 1 litre of water per flush.
Why we should all be recycling batteries
It’s easy to throw used batteries into the bin when we are not thinking. By their very nature – these small, disposable objects found in remote controls, cameras and children’s games are made to be dumped.
But when it comes to jettisoning batteries of any kind – we should all be recycling them, by placing them in collection containers found in some shops and municipal tips, or in some cases, returning them to the manufacturer for disposal.
If we all took this approach, it would make a big difference, as it is calculated that each year in the UK we throw away around 600 million batteries. In addition, according to Directgov, if the UK can meet its recycling target of at least 45% of batteries by 2016 over 12,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions could be avoided.
And we are not just talking about the zinc-based batteries made for domestic use. Lead acid batteries used in cars, lithium ion batteries found in laptops, nickel metal batteries used for mobile phones and nickel cadium batteries commonly found in rechargeable power tools can all be recycled.
There are various ways to recycle the different battery types but the aim is always to recover the raw materials used to make them, so they can be re-used. For example, many batteries contain steel that can be used again by the steel industry while other valuable metals like nickel and cobalt also have industrial applications.
Unfortunately, most batteries that are thrown into bins will go to landfill where they can potentially pose a threat to the environment. As they break up dangerous chemicals found in batteries – such as lead, cadmium and lithium – can leach into the soil and water table causing pollution.
When getting rid of batteries, recycling has to be the only answer.
If you are a business that wants advice on how to recycle batteries, please call us on 01787 221 664.