Thousands of people all over the UK put their recycling through the dishwasher before leaving out for the refuse collectors.
In an admission that has echoes of “Keeping Up Appearances” where posh Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced “Bouquet”, you know) puts her milk bottles through the wash, many Brits admit to doing the same with jars, tins bottles and recyclable plastic.
According to national waste and recycling company BusinessWaste.co.uk, this is just the tip of the iceberg where people admit to all kind of weird habits when it comes to putting out their bins.
“From sorting by size down to shredding every piece of paper to come through the house, we’ve just about heard it all,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “but as long as they get it right, we don’t care.”
BusinessWaste.co.uk has spoken to dozens of householders, as well as collecting comments from its own refuse collection operatives, and found all kinds of strange goings-on.
Asked the simple question: “Do you put your bottle, jars and tins through the dishwasher before you put them out for recycling?
- Some 26% said they do
- Another 34% said they wash or rinse them by hand
- The other 40% say they don’t wash or rinse recyclable refuse at all
And respondents’ stories tell their own tale:
- Laura, 39: “We put all out tins, bottles and jars through the dishwasher. You might think it’s a bit Hyacinth Bucket, but it gets the labels off.”
- Waste collector Paul, 31: “We collect from one house who sorts all their empty bottles in colour order. Clear, brown, green – every fortnight. Makes no difference to us, because they all end up in the back of the same lorry.”
- Waste collector Dave, 47: “This one house puts out boxes and boxes of shredded paper. So one day I just had to ask – and it turns out he shreds everything, from their bank statements down to the Daily Mail. He told me ‘You can’t take any chances these days,’ which was fair enough.”
- Frank, 58: “We make sure all the newspapers are properly refolded and bundled up with string. You’ve got to keep standards high, you know. Unlike those people over the road, they just fling everything in a bin in black bags and can’t even be bother with the lid. It’s almost if they don’t care about property values.”
- Audrey, 50: “Our recycling bins go out at ten to seven on a Friday morning when we hear the lorry coming, and come back in again five minutes later. We don’t want people to see what we’re recycling, it’s private.”
- Waste collector Andrew, 26: “Who knew they still do printed adult magazines? All the same to us, they still go in the paper recycling truck.”
- Geoff, 43: “We’d never put our rubbish through the dishwasher – what a waste of electricity and water! No, ours it done by hand in the washing up bowl.”
BusinessWaste.co.uk ‘s Mark Hall notes that Geoff is absolutely correct. “Dishwashers are a tremendous waste of energy if you’re just using one to clean your rubbish. Washing or rinsing by hand is the way to go, just watch out for those sharp edges.”
And it’s also worth noting that shredding your sensitive documents is still a sensible idea, especially if you put your waste paper out the night before.
“Bin night is still jackpot night for your old-school identity thieves,” says Hall. “Bank and credit card statements, forms featuring dates of birth are exactly what they’re looking for.
“But there’s no need to shred absolutely everything – that’s just wasting electricity as much as unneeded dishwasher cycles.”
But one thing is certain: It doesn’t matter if you sort your bottles in size order, colour order, or by how much you enjoyed the contents, it’s whether you recycle at all. And the same goes for your old newspapers, magazines (whatever the contents) and junk mail – it’s all recyclable paper to companies like ours.
“We recycle less than half of our waste at the moment,” says Business Waste’s Mark Hall, “So we don’t care how you send us your recycling – just do it!”