We go back to basics on recycling

We go back to basics this week with a look at recycling. I have been visiting many schools over the past few weeks and they are reaching recycling levels of twice the national average! It goes to show that, with a little more care and attention, every home and office could at least reach recycling levels of over 50%.

Congratulations are due to all the students, teachers, parents and caretakers who do wonderful work in educating the youth of Kerry, the next guardians of the county. Taking a leaf from their (school)book, here's the kind of recycling that all households and workplaces should be able to achieve.


• Glass accounts for 8% of household waste.

• Old glass is easily made into new glass jars and bottles or into other glass products like fibreglass insulation. And unlike paper, glass jars and bottles can be recycled over and over again. The glass doesn't wear out.

• Recycling one glass jar saves enough energy to light a light bulb for nearly an hour or run a TV for 15 minutes.

• Glass cullet (recycled glass) can be used to make new glass, concrete, fibreglass, ceramic tiles, picture frames and can be used in roadbeds.

• Using recycled glass uses 40% less energy than making products from all new materials.

Preparing used glass bottles and jars for recycling is easy. All you need to do is remove their lids or caps and rinse the containers in water. You don't need to scrub off the labels, since they will burn up when the glass is melted down for recycling.

Most recyclers ask you to sort glass containers by colour - clear, green, or amber (golden brown). Once glass has been coloured, the colour cannot be removed.

However, you cannot recycle all glass products. Light bulbs, ceramics, glass mirrors, windowpanes, drinking glasses and glass Pyrex dishes are not made with the same materials as glass jars and bottles, so they should not be mixed in with glass recyclables.


• Auminium is made from bauxite ore, which is a non-renewable resource Recycling aluminium saves 95% of the energy used to produce aluminium from raw materials

• Over 400 million aluminium beverage cans are sold in Ireland each year, all of which are fully recyclable

• It takes 670 aluminium cans to make up one bicycle

• Recycling one aluminium can saves enough energy to run a television for three hours

• Aluminium accounts for about 2% of the household bin.

• Aluminium never wears out, it can be recycled forever.


• Using scrap metal in the manufacturing of new metal, results in a 75% saving in energy. Steel can be used indefinitely without suffering the slightest loss of quality, allowing 70-85% of energy saving. Tin cans are reused to make keys and other metal products.

• Steel accounts for 1.6% of the household bin

• Steel is by the far the most energy efficient metal used in the production of cans. The production of steel for one can uses about half the energy needed to make a comparable aluminium can.

• Steel is easy to extract from a domestic waste stream as it is magnetic.

• Every tonne of steel cans recycled save: 1.5 tonnes of iron ore, 0.5 tonnes of coal, 40% of the water required in production.


• Plastic accounts for approx 13% of the household bin.

• Plastic is made from crude oil - a valuable and limited non-renewable resource.

• Recycling plastic saves two thirds of the energy required when producing plastic from raw materials

• It takes about 27 recycled soft drink bottles to make one fleece jacket.

• One tonne of plastics is equivalent to 20,000 two-litre drink bottles

Plastic consumption is growing about four per cent every year in Western Europe.

" If you lined up all the polystyrene foam cups made in just 1 day they would circle the earth

Paper / Cardboard

• Paper products make up 25.6% of the household bin.

• Making recycled paper saves trees, and uses 54% less energy and 58% less water than making paper from virgin wood pulp

• Each ton of paper recycled can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4,000 kilowatts of energy and 7,000 gallons of water

• Paper products use up at least 35% of the world's annual commercial wood harvest.

• One tree can filter up to 60 pounds of pollutants from the air each year.

• One piece of office grade paper can be recycled seven times.