A Guide to Recycling in Scotland

By Callum Barraclough

22nd April 2022

(Scotland has many ways for people to recycle old items. Photograph: Pixabay)

Across Scotland, there are a large amount of recycling centres you can go to recycle your old items, whether that includes clothes, electronics, or just general recycling. However, there are many other opportunities for you to recycle your old clothes and general items, from composting to doing home collections, so you can still get involved with activism in one way or another if you need to get rid of some of your clothes. In 2020 it was found that Scotland was the worst in the UK for recycling household waste, with a rate of 42%, recycling 1,020,728 tonnes of waste out of 2,429,057, while Wales recycled 64.3%, showing how much work Scotland has to do to improve in this area.

Firstly, you can refer to our article about sustainable clothing in Glasgow, there are many independent shops that offer eco-friendly fashion, so it well worth taking a look at them if you live near or in Glasgow!

After that, there are still several things you can do at home, without having to go out to a recycling centre, the main one among them being the recycling bins you will have already around where you live. The councils operate the collection of the recycling bins on a rota, with different bins being collected by the council depending on the week. For North Ayrshire, the rotas can be found by placing your postcode into their search tool, with it bringing back the correct dates for your location. The brown, blue and purple bins will be for re-cycling, while the black bin will be for general waste.

There is also a tool given by Zero Waste Scotland which helps show you what you should put into each of your bins, along with giving a link to the relevant council’s website so you can find out the bin rota for your area, along with any additional information you may need.

Zero Waste Scotland’s recycling sorting tool. (Photograph: Zero Waste Scotland)

There are also additional ways you can recycle items if you still have more you want to get rid of, many charities will put a collection bag through your door that you can fill with relevant items, then leave the bag outside your front door on the pickup day given on the bag.

Zero Waste Scotland meanwhile has several ideas you can use to recycle your old items, and help make your home eco-friendlier, from learning what you can do with DIY and garden tools, all the way to tips on what you can use left over food for. Using their tips will lead to less waste being made from what you already have, helping with Scotland achieving its household waste recycling target.

After all these tips then, you might still have the need to go to a recycling centre to offload some of your remaining items, or you might need to go to a friend to give them your remaining items. In the latter case, you can try reaching out to a friend with the item you want to give away, if they then accept your offer, you can then travel to their place with the item, or vice versa, and give it to them.

If you need to go to a recycling centre then, there are many available across Scotland, but if you only need to get rid of a handful of items you can’t fit into your recycling bins, you can instead go to a supermarket, as they may have some recycling bins available for you to use, from recycling bins for cans, cardboard and glass, to ones for clothes and batteries, so it may just be worth taking a trip to the nearest Tesco, or whatever is in your local area, to see what you can put into them.

If you need a larger recycling centre, whether that is because you have items that cannot be recycled otherwise, or you have some larger items to get rid of, dedicated recycling centres then can help you. Larger recycling centres offer collection bins for larger items, like tables, TVs, and other types of items. The Scottish Government’s website offers the ability to put in the name of your local council and see what recycling centres are in your local area.

Here are some examples of recycling centres from across Scotland:

Hopefully, with all of these tips, you can help get rid of your waste and unused items, whilst also avoiding negatively harming the environment!

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