The Lazy Recycling Plan for Students

By Alex Carlin, College of Science

During university life recycling seems to be the last thing on many student’s mind. Trying to balance achieving 2:1 level assignments, having a social life, and extracurricular activities is surely enough? In many cases the cleaning routine for your student house is found near the bottom of the weekly to do list, with taking the bins out at the very bottom.

Every student has experienced playing Jenga with the leaning tower of rubbish protruding from the bin at some point. So, why add to your already busy lifestyle and consider adding another bin to this equation, and consider recycling? Because, although it might seem you don’t have time to save the world, you can try by doing these simple things.

Every year, 18 million tonnes of waste is landfilled in UK sites. 275,000 tonnes of this are plastic. Some plastics can take up to 500 years to biodegrade, and glass never fully biodegrades, this taking up an enormous amount of landfill space all over the UK. Plastic products that reach the ocean are predicted to kill over one million sea creatures every year, and harming or injuring countless other animals in the process such as sea birds and other coastal species. For instance, Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a floating ‘garbage island’ within the Pacific Ocean, and is estimated to be made from 3.5 million tonnes of rubbish. If we continue at our present waste production, this is predicted to double in size.

It is estimated that 60% of the rubbish that ends up in your bin could be recycled. We are lucky within our country to have the opportunity to recycle. Other lower economically developed countries do not have this available to them, with sometimes only 1 limited recycling plant per country. These countries are usually the most effected by the consequences of global warming, with heightened risk of temperature rises and natural disasters. In Lincolnshire there are 11 recycling centres available for use. The waste we produce is usually distributed to these centres by the local district council collection of the brown bins. Although we have a large access to recycling there are only certain products that should be put in them.

Here is a simple A-Z list of items you can recycle:

  • Aerosol Cans (Empty)
  • Biscuit Tins
  • Bottle Tops (Plastic and Metal)
  • Cans and Tins (Clean and Empty)
  • Cartons/Packaging
  • Catalogues/Magazines
  • Foil (Clean)
  • Food Trays (e.g. mushroom boxes, plastic and cardboard)
  • Glass bottles/jars
  • Ice-cream or butter tubs
  • All Paper and Cardboard
  • Plastic Containers

WARNING: The City of Lincoln does not recycle yoghurt pots!

But Veolia, who do our University recycling collection do! Find out here where you can recycle your waste on campus

Student Village Recycling

All the things above are regularly used in student houses. Everyday items such as milk cartons, beer cans and clean pizza boxes, could all quickly be popped into a recycling bin at the end of the day. Create a small recycling bin or bag next to your regular bin to encourage your housemates, and make it easy for them to just place recyclable items into it. Remember to clean the food off them first.

Educate your housemates, family and friends

Be sure to educate your housemates and friends first, make sure that they know what is meant to be recycled, because if the recycling is contaminated sometimes the whole bag is unable to be recycled. Such a small change in your life could make such a difference to the world we live in. In 2013 43.5% of overall household waste in the UK was recycled. These easy and simple bin changes could aid the UK in reaching its 50% recycling goal by 2020, and make the world a better place for the next generations.


Do something little and good each day, and help other people do it to!