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Friday, 5 October 2012

Buying recycled products

For the recycling industry to be able to work, there has to be a market for recycled materials. By buying recycled products, you are helping create this market and ensure that valuable materials don’t go to waste. Buying recycled doesn’t mean having to skimp on quality either.

The wider issue

People in the UK throw away rubbish fast enough to fill the Albert Hall every two hours. Buying recycled products means less rubbish ends up in landfill and fewer valuable natural resources get wasted.

Generally, products made out of recycled materials instead of new take less energy to produce too, helping to tackle climate change.

Labels that show a product is recycled

The NAPM Recycled Mark shows a product contains at least 50 per cent recycled fibre

Labelling schemes can help you find out if a product contains recycled materials:

  • the Mobius Loop symbol with a percentage inside the loop shows that a product contains that percentage of recycled material
  • for paper and board, the NAPM (National Association of Paper Merchants) Recycled Mark shows the product contains at least 50 per cent recycled fibre

Find out more on the 'Recycling and packaging labels' page.

Recycled products on the high street

The most common recycled product is paper. You can easily find recycled toilet rolls, kitchen rolls, tissues, stationery and packing materials, as well as printer, copier and writing paper.

Other recycled products that are available in supermarkets and on the high street include:

  • wine and water glasses – and even champagne flutes
  • glass jugs and bowls
  • school uniforms
  • bin bags and tin foil 
  • reusable shopping bags

Many manufacturers are now using recycled materials in their packaging, plastic bottles and food containers. Check for one of the labels above to see if the product you’re buying contains recycled material.

Recycled products from specialist shops or websites

The Mobius Loop with percentage inside shows what percentage of that product is recycled material

There’s a surprisingly wide range of products made of recycled materials, including:

  • newspapers
  • clothing, including fleeces made of recycled plastic
  • furniture
  • play materials and toys
  • tiles and bathroom fittings

Try searching online for 'recycled products' or have a look at the UK recycled products guide.

Buying recycled gifts

There are some great gifts available that are made out of recycled materials, both for adults and children. They range from the conventional (glassware, picture frames) to the quirky (bowls made out of telephone cord, cosmetic bags made out of reclaimed seatbelts).

If you are looking for a specific item, search for it online by putting its name and 'recycled' in the search box. For more general ideas, you could try searching online for ‘unusual recycled gifts’.

The quality of recycled products

In the past, some recycled products, like paper, didn’t match new products for quality. However, advances in technology mean that recycled products have improved and now often equal the quality of new items.

Recycle what you’ve finished with

Manufacturers are only able to use recycled materials if everyone recycles what they buy and use. Try and recycle as much as you can.

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