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Single use items - some of the biggest threats to our environment

Landfill Waste created from Office Buildings

The amount of waste that the UK creates each year is vast and this amount could be reduced. In 2016, England was responsible for over three quarters (78%) of UK landfill waste, generating 6.0 million tonnes of the 7.7 million tonne total. 

Although the amount that the UK recycles has increased over recent years, there are still many products that we all use daily and take years to biodegrade. There are also products that we should recycle that we sometimes don't and they get thrown into the landfill waste. 

Do you know how long it takes for a glass bottle to biodegrade if you don't put it in the recycling? Or an aluminium can? These biodegrading and cost statistics below might surprise you...

How long do you use a plastic bag for?

People normally use a plastic bag for an average of 15 minutes. Some people may reuse them once or twice, you might use them as a bin liner or take your lunch to work in one. But after that, they are thrown in the bin and they then take between 20 and 100 years to biodegrade. 

How long can you power a TV by recycling an aluminium tin can?

By recycling 1 tin can you can power your TV for 3 hours! That's almost 3 episodes of Game of Thrones! What's more, tin can's be recycled again and again so that's enough to watch the entire box set!

How much does it cost to power an office overnight or weekends?

If you leave electronics on overnight or over the weekend, it can cost the UK roughly £90 million a year. 

How long does a cigarette take to biodegrade?

It takes 12 years for a cigarette butt to biodegrade. 

How many coffee cups do we throw away each year?

We throw away 7 million coffee cups each day and the majority are not recyclable. How can we change this? Purchase a reusable coffee cup!

How many tonnes of steel can we save if we reduced the number of staples we use?

120 tonnes of steel can be saved if every office worker used 1 less staple a day.

How long does it take for a plastic bottle to biodegrade?

250 years. On average one person throws away 150 plastic bottles a year. The way to solve this problem? Invest in a reusable water bottle!

How long does it take for a plastic straw to biodegrade?

200 years is how long it takes for 1 straw to biodegrade. Straws have one singular use and are thrown out, many companies & hospitality businesses have started to sell paper straws to help combat this problem. If you use straws at home you can invest in glass or metal straws. You can even buy collapsible straws for use on the go!

How long does it take for nappies to biodegrade?

Although it seems unavoidable, it can take 800 years for nappies to biodegrade. The alternatives? There are reusable nappies as well as biodegradable nappies and wipes!

How long does it take for a glass bottle to biodegrade? (if you put it in the regular waste, not the recycling)

It can take 1 million years (estimated, exact amount of time unknown) for a glass bottle to biodegrade. Which is why we need to recycle!

How long does it take for an aluminium can to biodegrade? (if you put it in the regular waste, not the recycling)

If you throw a tin can in the general waste it can take 250 years to biodegrade. Whereas if you recycle it, it can power your TV for 3 hours, we think it is an obvious option?

How long does it take for batteries to biodegrade?

It takes roughly 100 years for batteries to biodegrade! There are normally used battery collection points in your local supermarket, this way they can be disposed of safely. If they go into a landfill then they can release harmful chemicals into the ground. 

How long does it take for fishing line to biodegrade?

It will take 600 years for a fishing line to biodegrade. 

Here is a sneak peek of our newly updated Environmental Awareness Training Course and some of the statistics surrounding the things that go onto landfill sites... 

So, what can we do?

Collectively we could all make more effort to recycle. A lot of us do it already, but we could make more effort to rinse things out so they can be recycled, check to see the labels if you're unsure rather than just throwing it in the bin and taking things to recycling centres that could be recycled but are not collected by your local council. We could also try composting, lots of councils provide compost bins for our homes! Finally, we should make sure we turn off all of our electricals when they are not in use! 

If you think that you could benefit from Environmental Awareness Training or your staff could then get started with a free trial today!