BLOG – Recycling: it’s worth it

Graphic of numerous products being placed in recycling containers

Recycling is the process of turning materials into new items. Recycling is part of the waste management hierarchy which provides a structure for minimising how much waste ends up in landfill sites.

Recycling often involves collecting used items and processing them to clean and separate the component materials. The separate materials can then be used for a whole range of purposes: plastic bottles can come back to life as clothing; aluminium cans turn up in aeroplane parts; paper yoghurt pots can transform into toothbrushes.

This National Recycling Week (25 September – 1 October), we want to tell you why we believe passionately that recycling is worth it.

Save energy

Manufacturing new items uses a large amount of energy. Recycling requires much less. For example, forming new aluminium from bauxite ore needs much more energy than creating items from aluminium that has already been made. Every tonne of aluminium that we recycle saves 210kWh of electricity and 2.5 million BTUs (British Thermal Units) of energy. Some recycled materials, such as paper, are even more energy efficient. For every tonne of paper we recycle, we save 1845kWh hours of electricity and 24 million BTUs of energy.

Producing energy creates pollutants that usually end up in our atmosphere in the form of CO2 and other – sometimes more toxic – gases that contribute to global warming. Because recycling uses less energy than making new materials, it also means less pollution is produced. For example, by recycling one tonne of paper instead of making new paper, we prevent 12kg of pollutants entering the atmosphere.

Protect our environment

Recycling materials reduces the likelihood that they will end up in our environment where they cause harm. There are 9 billion tonnes of plastic in the world and more than 8 million tonnes of it ends up in our oceans every year. Plastic litter not only looks unsightly, but it can harm – and even kill – wildlife when it is swallowed or creatures become trapped. Items such as bottles, fishing nets and even the micro beads in your face wash can all end up in the sea.

By collecting our waste for recycling, we can help to ensure that is it handled responsibly and not allowed to make its way into our environment.

Prolong scarce resources

Many of the materials we use in manufacturing are from natural sources and so are in limited supply. Raw materials such as oil and metal ores will not last forever. One day they will run out because nature cannot form them as fast as we use them.

Recycling makes use of materials that have already been manufactured, which greatly reduces our reliance on these precious resources. For example, every tonne of recycled plastic saves 4 barrels of oil compared to manufacturing new plastics. Oil and other fossil fuels are also used to produce energy. Since recycling uses less energy than making new materials, it saves even more natural resources.

Preserve our planet

All of the benefits that recycling offers are crucial to help preserve our environment. By prolonging the availability of natural resources, reducing pollution and protecting wildlife, we can preserve our planet for future generations.

If we all do our little bit to recycle the things we use, we can make a big collective difference. We hope you agree that recycling is the right thing to do – and it’s worth it.

UPDATE: Telephone service restored

Our telephone service has now been restored and the Devon Contract Waste team can be contacted on our usual number: 01392 361 300. We are working to restore our email access as soon as possible.

Thank you for your support and understanding.

Green waste recycling

7af0be02-5108-4070-8020-10ca700d6beaWe are partnered with South West Composting in Plymouth to encourage the diversion of garden waste from landfill.

We now offer the best rates available for domestic and commercial green waste producers in Devon and Somerset, including Plymouth, Exeter, Torbay and beyond.

Tipping fee of only £45.00 per tonne and competitive haulage rates. Bulk or bagged compost available at great prices.


BSL approved biomass woodchip


As part of our partnership with Southwest Composting we are now also able to supply BSL approved renewable heat biomass woodchip. This is available for collection or delivery in Devon throughout the year and is made from A & B grade waste wood collected from businesses in Devon, to produce heat in Devon.

Previously, all the wood we collected was shredded and exported to northern Europe for local heat and water systems, which diverted all materials from landfill. However, we believe using locally produced waste wood to heat schools, hotels and homes in the South West in place of fossil fuels is a better localised solution and we’re please to now be facilitating this.

Part of the challenge to encourage investment in the latest biomass boilers is to ensure there is a reliable local source of wood chip and this is where we come in with our new partnership. Southwest Composting has the shredding plant that can shred the green waste and timber, and then store it. We of course have the waste wood and the transport so by pooling our resources we have created a local sustainable renewable heating product.

To order your locally sourced Devon biomass woodchip, call 01392 361 300.

BSL authorisation number BSL0496840-0001

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During the last 10 years the recycling industry has seen some big changes and not all of them good.

In the early years, typically only cardboard and paper was separated and collected often by paper merchants.

As the waste industry gradually moved away from landfill, and recycling was in demand, they saw as did we, the opportunity to collect the card and paper themselves to bale it and sell it to the paper mills.

This developed from there as sorting plants came on line to a mixed recycling service where anything plastic, metal or paper could be mixed together in one bin. These materials even baled together at the height of the commodity market were achieving rebates of up to £50 a tonne – however this was short lived.

The biggest issue the industry faced with dry mixed recycling was contamination caused either by confusion, or the deliberate misuse of the bins simply as they were cheaper than a general waste bin.

This has now led to the industry reducing what is acceptable in a DMR bin, returning the contents to a cleaner but more restricted waste stream.

Quality is still the biggest challenge, so even the cleanest mixed recycling still has to be processed in a sorting plant to ensure it meets the stricter export rules introduced in 2013. This of course just adds pressure on the producer of the waste, to check bins are only used correctly by their staff to avoid rejected bins or penalties.

Find out more by downloading our “The hard truth about Recycling” leaflet