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Saturday 9 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C

Here it is - everything you've ever wanted to know about recycling but were afraid to ask

Ever wondered if you were doing it right? We’ve got all the answers…

FOR THOSE OF us who know how great it is, it’s a daily occurrence.

Some of us would like to be doing it more, but aren’t sure where to start – or who to ask. And a lot of Irish people have been doing it for years, but still have a nagging doubt in the back of their mind that their technique isn’t quite right. Others don’t do it at all, which is a crying shame.

We’re talking about recycling, of course.

It’s Repak Recycling Week 2016, and it’s time we all sat down and had the talk – it’s time to give ourselves a refresher on the common things we’re doing wrong when it comes to the big R.

Why is recycling important?

The good news is that 98% of Irish people are switched on to how important recycling is – but there’s still work to be done. Even though most of us recycle, there are still issues around recycling contamination meaning that even those of us with the best intentions are actually putting the wrong thing in that green bin.

Recycle cogdogblog cogdogblog

Let’s start out with a few key facts on where our recycling goes.

Paper and cardboard products make up 23.7% of waste in the household bin and plastic 12%.

Manufacturing recycled paper instead of new paper from virgin wood plump uses 54% less energy and 58% less water. Paper products use up to 35% of the world’s annual commercial wood harvest. One piece of office paper can be recycled up to seven times.

Plastic is made from crude oil – a valuable and limited non-renewable resource. Recycling plastic saves 2/3 of the energy required to produce plastic from raw materials.

Look at things this way – if recycled properly, plastic can be turned into amazing and useful stuff like raincoats, wellies, footballs, rugby balls, game consoles, plastic toys, smart phones – fleece clothing, garden furniture, sleeping bags and jacket insulation and carpets…. The list goes on.

Recycling macinate macinate

What can go in?

The recycling bin, that is. Well, a full list of what can go into your recycling bin can be accessed here, but we’ll break down the major household players for you:


  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Junk mail and envelopes/paper
  • Food boxes, milk cartons, egg boxes


  • Aluminum drinks cans (like a Coke can etc)


  • Food and pet food tins/cans
  • Biscuit tins

Plastic bottles (PET1)

  • Mineral and water bottles
  • Mouthwash bottles
  • Salad dressing bottles

Plastic bottles (HDPE2)

  • Milk and juice bottles
  • Cosmetic and shampoo bottles
  • Household cleaning bottles

Plastic bottles (PP)

  • Yoghurt pots
  • Margarine tubs
  • Any rigid food packaging (except black)
  • Liquid soap containers
  • Fruit containers

What is recycling contamination?

Contamination in your recycling bin can be as high as 36%.

According to stats from, just over a third of what we actually intend on being recycled actually makes the grade. But there are steps that you can take to ensure your recycling bin is in better nick and that more of your waste can be reused.

The most common types of contamination include: dirty nappies, food waste, garden waste, electrical wires, batteries, materials with soiled oils, plastic bags, ashes, clothes, shoes, sheets, cushions, contaminated food containers, half full bottles or cartons with liquid.

If you contaminate your recycling bin, you can ruin a load of quality material that can be recycled again and turned into something brand new.

Recycling Steven Leith Steven Leith

So – how do I recycle better?

Here’s the really useful part – how to make sure you’re recycling the best way possible.

  • Ensure you rinse any food or liquid residues from containers
  • Make sure you know what can and can’t be recycled
  • Know your recycling day so you don’t become tempted to dump recyclable waste with other rubbish
  • Flatten and crush/open up boxes to make best use of space
  • Do not put mixed recyclables into a box or bag and then into green bins (these need to be pulled out for mechanical separation)
  • Do not put food waste or other compostable materials (such as garden waste) in green or blue bins
  • No electrical items, clothes, old shoes, used batteries should be into the green bin
  • Recycle more items from the bathroom or others areas of the house and think about where else you could be recycling

Got any recycling tips or questions for us? Leave ‘em down below. There’ll be a quiz later on this week to see how much you’ve boned up on the recycling…

Save our nation from contamination. Visit to find out exactly what you can put into your recycling bin. Change for the better and recycle – just make sure you’re doing it right. #cutoutcontamination 

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