Luxembourg generates quite a lot of waste. In fact, it generates the 4th highest amount of waste in the EU (according to Eurostat from 2017). Reducing the waste we create needs to be prioritized. Buying more unpacked products, avoiding plastic use and carrying bags with us when shopping are some simple things we can all do. But how we dispose of the generated waste is just as important.
We all know of the importance of recycling. And most of us are pretty good at the basics. We sort aluminium cans, glass bottles, cardboard. But many of us are still puzzled with the dos and don’ts when it comes to proper recycling. Getting recycling right is a big deal, and not doing it right can lead to your recycling being rejected and ending up in landfill.
We all have the responsibility of the correct disposal of the wastes we generate. Here’s a little reminder of what is and what is not recyclable, and how to make a bigger impact in our world and environment with our daily acts. Here is a quick list of common mistakes that people make when recycling.
NOT SORTING PROPERLY
A lot of waste can be recycled, but if it does not get sorted properly, it ends up in the trash. Know what your local recycling centre accepts and does not accept so you are not causing extra work or missing an opportunity to save something from going to landfill. You can contact the recycling centres in your commune or visit their website to find out how to sort your waste properly. And if there is something that you’re not sure is recyclable – you’re better off throwing it in the trash than adding it to the recyclables. Don’t practice wishful recycling – do your homework.
USING BIN LINERS FOR YOUR RECYCLING
Using bags to line your indoor compost bins can damage the machines at the recycling facility. Food waste is not recyclable; it is compostable. Placing your food waste in a plastic bag, which is not compostable, makes no sense, don’t you agree? If you really want to keep your bin clean, then opt for compostable paper bags instead, made specifically for food waste.
LEAVING FOOD RESIDUE ON RECYCLABLES
Rinse out containers that had liquids or food inside and use a spatula to scrape out excess material that won’t come out with water. No need to use the dishwasher. Make sure you remove metal lids and rings from glass containers and bottles. Greasy pizza or pasta boxes are not recyclable so don’t put them together with paper and cardboard.
LEAVING PLASTIC FILM WITH OTHER PLASTICS
Plastic bags, film and wrap can’t be put into the recycling bin, but they can be recycled. Check what can be placed in your Valorlux bag; some communes can now take plastic bags in there as well. Alternatively, there are some grocery stores in the country that have collection boxes where you can drop these items (plastic bags, yoghurt pots etc.) Don’t forget to take out and properly sort the plastic bags inside cereal boxes, plastic sleeves for newspapers or the packaging toilet paper comes in.
DON’T TRY TO RECYCLE NAPPIES
These are not recyclable – just don’t do it. Throwaway nappies contain plastic and so does the packaging they come in. Many of them will end up in landfill, as well as the nappy’s contents, which can then end up in the water system. If you really want to reduce the waste, then opt for alternatives such as cloth nappies that can be washed and reused or biodegradable nappies (they might not really biodegrade, but they are made ethically and with better materials and less chemicals). Early potty training can also help reduce the number of nappies you use on your baby.
LETTING PAPER & CARDBOARD GET WET
Wet cardboard and paper can be useless when it comes to recycling as water weakens the fibres. This decreases their value so that many recycling plants will reject them. If you think it’s going to rain overnight, it’s best to wait until the morning before taking the recycling out.