Recycling… there is no Planet B

Planet Earth has finite resources, once used, they are gone forever.


  • The government wants all schools to be sustainable by 2020 and in 2006 launched a National Framework that sets out the government’s aspirations.

Empowering young people to take responsibility for their own future is not only desirable: it is a crucial feature of their education. The more we do within our communities, the more we can achieve. Recycling is a key component in making a difference, moving us that little bit closer the saving our planet as we know it.

Recycling reduces the need for extracting (mining, quarrying and logging), refining and processing raw materials all of which create substantial air and water pollution. As recycling saves energy it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which helps to tackle climate change.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs states that the 2018 UK recycling rate was 45%. This seemingly low rate demonstrates the need for further education and the creation of further opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle. Educating children creates habits for life!

The EU waste from households recycling target for the UK is to recycle 50% of its waste by 2020. England produces over 80% of the UK’s total waste and Wales has the best recycling rates since 2015 exceeding the EU target of 50% year on year. Although the UK is nearing its target, we have a lot more work to do, especially in comparison to other countries who are nearing 100%.

Why recycle...

  • Minimises the amount of waste sent to landfill sites and incinerators

  • Conserves the earth’s natural resources such as water, minerals, and wood

  • Prevents pollution by reducing the need for new raw materials

  • Supports manufacturing by conserving raw materials

  • Helps create new jobs in recycling and manufacturing sectors across the globe

  • Saves energy!

Dumping, littering, poor recycling and waste management is an ongoing cause of environmental pollution and if we are not effectively storing or recycling this waste then it is inhibiting animal habitats. Detrimental effects are severe, altering the natural process of the ocean and atmospheric biosphere. Marine debris is acting as a sun filter preventing inhibiting the sea’s planktons from conducting photosynthesis which ultimately provides us with half the world’s oxygen.

Plastic waste becomes brittle over time, breaking up into microplastics in our oceans, strong currents, colliding objects, and water trigger the breakdown. Albatross and sea turtles are amongst the critically endangered species specifically due to pollution, often mistaking plastic particles for food. On average 45 pieces of debris are found inside carcases, most of which is plastic. Fish also become contaminated by our polluted waters and when bigger fish eat the little fish, they too become contaminated.


To turn the tide, we need to increase our recycling efforts, resulting in less energy usage, which, in turn, will help to preserve our natural resources.

Here are some sobering recycling facts for students:

  • 60% of waste that goes in the bin could be recycled.
  • UK households use up to one tonne of waste per year on average, which weighs the equivalent of a small car!
  • The average household dust bin per year, contains enough unrealised energy for 500 baths, 3500 showers or 5,000                hours of TV.
  • The UK throws away approximately 455,000 tonnes of plastic bottles each year which is equivalent to around 9.1 billion bottles.
  • It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminium cans than it does to make new ones.
  • Recycling one plastic bottle will save enough energy to light a 60w lightbulb for six hours.
  • If every person were to recycle only 10% more paper every year, we would save approximately £5 million.

Activities for schools to get involved:

The Education Secretary in 2018 urged all schools to eliminate their use of single-use plastics by 2022. The government’s 25-year Environment Plan pledges the elimination of avoidable plastic waste by 2042 and promises to consider steps to discourage plastic items that prove difficult to recycle and ideas to reduce demand for commonly littered items, including takeaway coffee cups and takeaway boxes.

There are also plans to introduce a world-leading new tax on plastic packaging which doesn’t meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content from April 2022, subject to consultation, to encourage greater use of recycled plastic to tackle the problem of plastic waste and protect our environment.


A YouGov survey commissioned by BRITA UK and Keep Britain Tidy in April found that young people are more committed than other generations to mitigating the effects of single-use plastic, with 68% of 18 to 24-year-olds currently owning a reusable water bottle, above the national average of 55%.

There are recycling schemes that can be run in school which will help your school become greener and help the environment. Talk to your local authority to see what schemes they are running. You can also use third parties, this is a great example from Recycling Guide UK http://www.recycling-guide.org.uk/schools.html.

Utilise D&T – Design and Technology is the perfect subject to get students involved with recycling.

Design Technology GCSE curriculum looks carefully at the ecological and social footprint of materials such as polymers, with the consideration of the 6 R’s.

The 6 Rs

The term ‘the 6 Rs’ can be applied to the design of new products or when a product is finished with, used up or no longer wanted. Here are some questions to prompt 6 Rs thinking:

Reduce – Can the amount of polymer used be reduced? Can the polymer be bought locally to reduce product miles?

Reuse – Can the polymer be reused for another purpose once a product is finished with?

Recycle – Can the polymer be disposed of correctly so that it can be recycled?

Rethink – Can the way a product is made be redesigned so that less or no polymer is used?

Refuse – Refusing to use a polymer could be a consideration; could a material that is sustainable be used instead?

Repair – When a product is broken, can it be repaired rather than discarded?

TSL’s Product Range

TSL has a range of products available that will enable you and your students to reuse and recycle materials in school. The Schred Granulator will enable your school to granulate LDPE and HDPE plastics (which is the material most milk bottles and packaging is made from). The press machine will then enable you to compress the granules made from your waste into sheets to reuse for DT practical’s.



Doing our bit…

As well as TSL’s distribution centre using sustainable and recyclable paper and boxes for packaging, our timber collection is FSC certified and is responsibly sourced and harvested from managed, and environmentally conscious forests.

Did you know that the UK population of approximately 64 million produces over 220 million tonnes of waste per year, with England responsible for around 85% of the UK’s total waste?

Want to share this content?