Lockdown Green-up: Food waste down and recycling rates up

Lockdown Green-up: Food waste down and recycling rates up
Food bins are emptier while the recycling is overflowing 

It looks like the enforced lockdown has made us better at recycling as we’ve changed the way we deal with our rubbish.

According to one waste management company, it looks like recycling rates have skyrocketed during the lockdown period, and less food being thrown away.

UK based waste collection company BusinessWaste.co.uk are thrilled with this news, as it shows that households have taken a greener approach to how they deal with their rubbish during these times.

Company spokesman Mark Hall says “It seems as if people have used this extra time to be more considerate with how they dispose of their waste, and being more appreciative of using up all of their food due to the scarcity of supermarket delivery slots.

“It’s great to see that people are managing to keep on top on recycling during these tricky times – it really has to be applauded!”

Recycling leaps by 30%

The amount of recycling being processed in the UK has increased overall by 30%, with a 70% increase in the number of tins and cans processed, a 20% increase in glass recycling in April, and an 80% increase in plastic recycling in May.***

But it’s not just the volume of recycling being processed, staff have been impressed with the quality of the items too, with reports of people making the effort to wash their recyclable items properly before binning them – which makes the recycling process much quicker and easier.***

Making the most of leftovers 

Cast your minds back to the chaos in supermarkets at the end of March, when pasta was considered as rare as diamonds and toilet paper could be used as currency.

People began to cherish the food they could get their hands on, because for a good week or two it really did seem like we were entering a pandemic food shortage.

But this initial panic buying blip at the start of the lockdown has given way to the new way we view our food as a precious resource, with 30% of people saying they have started saving their leftovers, and a third of people saying they are getting more creative with their meals.****

Hall: “People have been making more informed choices when it comes to their food shop, only buying the things they know they will actually use and making the most of what they have left.”

  • Mother of three Linda in Sheffield says, “I’ve had to get a bit creative with meals for the kids, I really wanted to make the most of what we had lurking in the cupboard, so I’ve made up a dish called ‘cowboy surprise’. It’s essentially a shepherd’s pie but with beans, mince or whatever we’ve got – they love it!”

Others have tried their hand at meal-prepping and batch cooking to fill the freezer with ready to cook meals, and 33% of UK shoppers have said that lockdown has encouraged them to use their freezer more.*****

Better tip habits

With people having more time on their hands, household waste recycling centres have been more popular than ever, which in turn has created an influx of recyclable goods.

Although local recycling centres were closed at the end of March, many tips are reporting that since reopening in May they have been operating at ‘post-Christmas levels’ due to the high demand.

This was definitely the case in Birmingham when a queue of 150 cars had already gathered three hours before the tip had officially reopened, with the police having to help manage the traffic.*

And in Hampshire, demand for tips has become so overwhelming that local councils have put in place a scheme where you have to book a ‘drop-off’ slot online, with only one slot available per household per week.**

Company spokesman Mark Hall says “It’s a shame it took the shake-up of a global pandemic for people to change their waste habits, but it’s still brilliant news and we hope to see these behaviours become the new normal.”


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