A recent Panorama programme investigated the recycling industry, in particular the American company, Terracycle, which claims to tackle the household waste others find hard to process. The TV programme, however, showed how baffling it was for an ordinary householder to get waste to Terracycle and cast doubt on the company’s claims about generating zero waste. Any Panorama viewer keen to recycle items that cannot go in a kerbside crate might have been forgiven for shrugging their shoulders and giving up on the whole idea.
But is the situation that bad? What are the opportunities within the city of York to make use of the waste the Council does not haul away, in particular those hard-to-recycle plastics that often end up being buried or burnt?
Terracycle have a visible presence in York and list as many as 22 drop-off points in the city, the most comprehensive being at St Nicks Environment Centre. In the wake of the pandemic, though, St Nicks are (at time of writing) taking drop-offs from members of the public only on specific dates. Check here for details. Most of the other Terracycle points accept a quite limited range of products. Tesco, at Askham Bar, for example, only take Maybelline make-up.
However, if you look beyond Terracycle, the outlook becomes more encouraging. Through other schemes, that same Tesco store at Askham Bar recycles numerous items including:
Baby, pet food, detergent and cleaning pouches
Biscuit and chocolate wrappers
Cheese, fish and meat wrapping
Crisp packets and sweet bags
Frozen food bags
Plastic carrier bags
Plastic film lids
Salad, pasta, and rice bags
Toilet roll wrapping
In case this appears like an ad for Tesco, do note all these same items are also accepted at other city supermarket outlets, including Sainsbury, the Co-op, Waitrose, M&S and Asda. Not everyone will be able to get to these locations, of course, but if, like me, you do a weekly shop at Foss Island, dropping-off your week’s accumulated packaging on the same journey should be no great bother.
Supermarkets could, of course, do more to reduce the waste they create, and the City Council should extend the range of recycling it collects from our doors. For the moment, though, options do exist for local residents to cut down what goes in their wheelie bins. And if you want to you want to find out more, this handy online tool tells you what you can recycle and where.