Do you recycle?

We should all want to protect the environment. Right?

Why is it so difficult to recycle certain items? There are a myriad of plastic packaging that cannot be recycled in the UK. Single use plastic should be made illegal in the battle to cut the amount of waste pumped into landfill sites.


Image courtesy of digitalart at

We have made it through another festive period and many people will have been left with a pile of wrapping paper, boxes and other packaging. All that wrapping paper, but at least we can recycle that right? It’s wrapping PAPER after all and we can recycle paper.

Not necessarily.

Some wrapping paper contains plastic. Others include foil and some contain the dreaded glitter. Many of these can’t be recycled in the UK. And, don’t get me started on sellotape! Part of my ritual after birthdays or Christmas is to remove all the tape from the wrapping paper before we recycle it. Apparently many people don’t and the paper then cannot be recycled. This article on the BBC explains more.



Some red glitter. In case you weren’t sure.

Then you have greetings cards. There seems to be cards for all occasions nowadays. It can take a while to find a card that isn’t splattered with glitter. I’ve stopped buying cards that contain glitter or anything else not paper. From now on, the wrapping paper I buy will be simple paper and 100% recyclable.

Why on EARTH are we allowing the sale of paper that isn’t really paper and is not recyclable? I know in the grand scheme of things it is a fraction of what we dispose of each year, but until recently I had no idea glitter was so evil. 🙂

Finally, the other item that bugs me.

Really bugs me.

Tetra Pak recycling.

Tetra Pak Carton.

Image of a Tetra Pak carton courtesy of me. Other brands are available.

I don’t have anything against Tetra Pak. I must use three or four cartons of soya milk a week and that’s just the start. In Sheffield, we can’t put these into our kerbside collections and there is a grand total of … ONE place to recycle these cartons in Sheffield.


Sheffield has a population of over 550,000 people and we have ONE place to recycle our Tetra Pak! I’ve complained before and nothing changes. Thankfully the site is close to where I work so every couple of months I take a car full to recycle. I wonder how many of the other 549,999 residents do the same?

I’m not saying we’re perfect and recycle everything. We could do more. We could probably all do more. Whether this is through incentive based schemes or manufacturers using more recyclable products to do away with single use plastic.

Like everything else, consumer power will win if enough people take a stand, complain and stop buying products whose packaging are not recyclable. Manufacturers will soon change if everyone stopped buying their goods.

Wherever in the world you live, how easy/difficult is it to recycle? Any similar stories of packaging you can’t recycle?

Rant over! (for now)

Thanks for reading.

About Pete Denton

I'm a writer working my way through the redrafts of a British crime novel. I also write short stories, flash fiction and some screen writing. Check out my blog for more.
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10 Responses to Do you recycle?

  1. Nice to see you back!

  2. karengadient says:

    I feel the same way about Tetra Pak. So much of it in the grocery and yet difficult to recycle.

  3. noelleg44 says:

    Good reminder, Pete. We separate plastics, bottles, cans, paper and cardboard. It’s a bother and I wonder if others follow suit.

    • Pete Denton says:

      This is probably a major part of the problem. Not just people having problems with whether the materials can be recycled, but ensuring the packaging that can be recycled is by everyone. We have a long way to go!

  4. I am a huge nut about recycling. I wish we could do so much more. I’ve heard that Sweden (I think it’s Sweden) is making some great headway with caring for the environment.

    One thing I do that a lot of people laugh at me for is to wash ziptop plastic bags so they can be reused, instead of throwing them away after one go. I don’t understand why that seems silly to people–it’s no different than washing plastic food storage containers!

    There are so many cheap ways we can recycle, that we can do on our own, where we don’t really need a huge law in place to force us. That’s not to say we don’t *need* the laws, because we do. But sometimes it’s the little guy who has to step up and take charge.

    • Pete Denton says:

      Thanks, Kate. Anything we do can make a big difference if everyone does the same.
      Some things are too cheap so they instantly become disposable. If it takes legislation to sort it then that’s what we need to do.

      Sweden and Norway are doing many things in recycling that the rest of us can follow. I feel more posts coming on!

  5. I agree, tetra pack is pretty evil.

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