Sustainable Statistics – What’s the Value of Your Waste?

September 4, 2015

As a nation, we produce around 31 million tonnes of waste per year! The amount of waste produced by us Brits is enough to fill Britain’s largest lake, Lake Windermere, in just eight months. Or in other words, it’s enough to fill London’s Albert Hall in just two hours!

Here we take a look at some of the shocking facts and scary statistics of the waste produced by the UK.


General Recycling

On average, the UK produces 31 million tonnes of waste per year, this equates to each household in the UK producing over 1 tonne of rubbish - A tonne of rubbish is equivalent to a small car.

The rubbish we produce contains unrealised energy, which is enough to generate 5,000 hours of electricity to power a television, run 500 baths and 3500 showers.


Glass Recycling

Whether it is a bottle used to contain the wine your drink, or perhaps it’s a jar used to conserve the jam you put on your toast, us Brits get through a whopping 2.4 million tons of glass per year! But impressively, each jar or bottle is recycled an average of 13 times before it loses its clarity or purity. Remaking glass bottles out of recycled glass has a number of energy saving benefits and each glass bottle generates enough energy to;

  • Power a 100 watt light bulb for almost one house
  • Power a TV for 15 minutes
  • Power a washing machine for 10 minutes.

There are more than 50,000 bottle banks dotted around our country with each bank capable of holding an impressive 3000 bottles before it requires emptying. Why don’t you familiarise yourself with your local recycling centre here.


Paper Recycling

The UK uses more than 12.5 million tonnes of paper and cardboard every year, which on average is around 200kg per person – the same as a small calf! To supply the UK with all of its paper-using habits, we use a forest the same size of Wales to provide us with the paper we use. 

Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it certainly is the most wasteful! During the festive period the UK produces enough wrapping paper to go around the equator nine times!! This doesn’t even consider the amount of cards, packaging and food that gets thrown away!

Remarkably, the paper we read can be recycled and back in your hands as another newspaper in less than a week!


Plastic Bag Recycling

Here in the UK, we get through around 500 million plastic bags each and every week! It can take anything between 500 and 1000 years for each plastic bag to decompose in a landfill, with a number of variables impacting on the environment throughout this time.

However, in Wales it is compulsory for shops to charge 5p per bag, a law introduced by The Welsh Government in 2011 to encourage people to reuse their plastic bags. The plastic bag levy has seen carrier bag usage in Wales reduce by 90%.


Water Consumption

It’s not just what you put in your rubbish bin that counts as rubbish – water can be wasted too!! If you have a leaky tap in your kitchen or a dripping shower in your bathroom, you could waste as much as 5,000 litres of water per year. If every home in the UK fixed their leaky taps, it would generate enough water to supply 120,000 homes with a whole day’s worth of water!