As the government aims to create a ‘zero waste economy’, we have a little look at some of the things that you might not immediately think of recycling but which could help to reduce the UK’s reliance on landfill sites.

You probably already recycle all your plastic and glass bottles, cardboard packaging and metal tins. The really environmentally friendly amongst us may even have a compost pile in the back garden, where they recycle their food waste.

If you’re already recycling all those things, then great! Recycling helps to conserve resources, saves energy, protects the environment and reduces landfill. Currently, it’s estimated we save 18 million tonnes of CO2 a year, which is the equivalent of taking 5 million cars off the road.

Whilst that figure sounds like a lot, it’s merely a drop in the ocean. We could be doing so much more to increase the amount of waste we recycle. Official government figures suggest we still generate 177 million tonnes of waste every year, in England alone. Much of this waste is simply sent to landfill sites, where it produces methane, a damaging greenhouse gas.

The UK government wants the country to move towards a ‘zero waste economy’ – that is an economy where literally no waste exists and resources are reused.

We specialise in the recycling of electronic equipment, such as computers and laptops, and we never send anything to landfill sites. Many people don’t know that they can recycle these products, but the reality is that you can recycle virtually anything.

Here are a few things that you can recycle, but very few people actually do:

VHS and Cassettes – There are reportedly 1.5 billion VHS cassettes that aren’t being used. If you have VHS tapes that you can’t use anymore, and aren’t fit to donate to a charity shop or re-sold to a second-hand dealer then recycle it! According to the excellent myzerowaste.com, there’s a company called Environmental Media Solutions, who will recycle old tapes and cassettes for you. The tapes are taken apart and shredded and then turned into all kinds of useful things, like product packaging. The tape itself is actually used in outdoor furniture and decking!

Batteries – There was a time when nobody really recycled batteries, but since 2010 new regulations meant that authorities had to start recycling them, with a target of having recycled 500 million batteries by 2016. Now, it’s much easier to recycle your used batteries, and there are a number of companies that will collect them for you. There are 18,000 battery collection points in the UK, and that is a number that is growing. The battery itself is recycled into steel, zinc and brass and also plastic, with at least 55% of the battery being re-used.

Mobile Phones – You’ve probably heard of companies that will buy your old mobile phone off you. Perhaps the best known is Envirofone. You send them your old mobile phone, which they then test and, if it meets their terms and conditions, they will then pay you for it. Many of these phones are passed on to emerging economic markets, where they offer remote communities a lifeline, offering better opportunities and helping improve the local infrastructure. Even if the phone is not up to the company’s standards and they can’t offer you money for it, they can still break it down and find a use for the recyclable parts.

Trainers – We all know the score – your kids buy a pair of trainers that they’ve wanted for ages and then they grow out of them and you’re left with a tatty old pair at the back of the cupboard. But you can find a way to recycle those trainers. There are many organisations that will quite happily take those trainers and send them to the developing world, where they can be used again. Even trainers that are too damaged to be re-worn, can be broken down and turned into useful materials. Your local sports shop might even be running a campaign encouraging you to recycle your old trainers. Recently, JJB ran a campaign where they gave £5 to everyone who brought in an old pair of trainers to one of their stores.

Inhalers – There are millions of people in the UK who use inhalers, and when they finish with them, they are simply sent to landfill sites. Despite the good they do to the human body, they are actually really terrible for the environment. To combat this, GlaxoSmithKline have launched their Complete the Cycle campaign. If you bring your used inhalers to participating pharmacies, they will be broken down into plastics and aluminium. The hope is that one day GlaxoSmithKline will be able to gather enough recycled components to use them again in new inhalers. If every inhaler user in the UK takes part in the scheme, then we could save 512,330 tonnes of CO2.

These are just a few of the things that can be recycled to help us create a zero waste society.

If you have IT equipment that you need to get rid of, then Recycle Technologies are here to help. We can collect from properties in Manchester, Liverpool , Warrington and the North West.