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A few words on recycling

Recycling is probably the most effective method of environmental protection. But is each of us aware of why waste is being recycled and how exactly this affects our environment? Well, recycling aims to reduce the consumption of natural resources and reduce the amount of waste. Activities associated with it lead to the recovery and re-use of waste with the lowest possible energy consumption. Raw materials, in particular glass waste, are recovered many times. Recycling is designed to limit the use of energy and protect natural resources.

Data of the Central Statistical Office

Municipal waste collected from households in 2016 in Poland:

In total, 9,564.5 tons (in thousands) of waste were collected. It was 248.9 kg per one inhabitant of Poland.

Waste collected selectively (in thousands of tons):

  • mixed waste: 6,943.3
  • paper and cardboard: 202.1
  • glass: 405.6
  • plastic: 271.7
  • metal: 22.2
  • fabric: 1.4
  • hazardous: 1.0
  • bulky waste: 322.9
  • biodegradable: 728.5

TOTAL: 2,621.2 (in thousands of tons)

The numbers presented above are increasing every year, which proves that the recycling awareness of Poles is growing. However, compared to waste segregation in other European countries, these numbers could be higher. Despite the fact that Poland has a comparable waste recovery to that of France or Italy, there is twice as much waste in landfills in our country. So, what can we change? First of all, we need to educate the society. For this purpose, we present below a handful of information about waste segregation.

How to sort waste?

Separation of raw materials from waste that is not recyclable is crucial. What are the raw materials that we can sort? These are plastics and metals, paper, glass packaging (white and coloured) and biodegradable waste. Thanks to the separate collection of these raw materials and the separation of biodegradable waste, valuable raw materials can be obtained for further processing.

The segregation of hazardous waste is also extremely important. It must not be thrown away with mixed waste. There are special points, mainly in stores and pharmacies, where we can leave it. Throughout the country, there are also municipal waste separate collection points that accept hazardous waste.

A useful piece of advice is that glass, plastic and metal do not have to be washed before being thrown away into a waste container. All you need to do is empty them. They will be washed in the next stages of recycling anyway.

Separate waste collection and containers for sorting waste

Below we present the most important information regarding the separate waste collection and we distinguish between different waste containers.

Aluminium should be thrown into red containers. We can place small scrap, caps and drink cans and other food packaging there.

Paper should be thrown into blue containers. We can put there newspapers, magazines, catalogues, construction paper and cardboard packaging, paperback books or hardback books with covers removed, notebooks, office paper, paper bags and wrapping paper.

Plastic should be thrown into yellow containers. We can put there bottles used for drinks and liquids, plastic baskets used for fruit, plastic bags and plastic caps.

Colourless glass should be thrown into white containers. We can put there colourless jars, colourless glass bottles used for drinks and other food products and colourless glass cosmetics packaging.

Coloured glass should be thrown into green containers. We can put there colourful jars, colourful glass bottles used for drinks and other food products and colourful glass cosmetics packaging.

What should not be thrown into containers?

Do not throw batteries, rechargeable batteries, aerosol packaging and paint cans into aluminium containers.

Do not throw personal hygiene products, milk and beverage cartons, carbon, thermal, fax and foil paper, wallpaper, bags used for building materials and dirty or oily waste paper into paper containers.

Do not throw bottles used for coolants, packaging used for medicines, food, industrial and motor oils, containers for ready-to-cook products, home appliances and consumer electronics, Styrofoam and toys into plastic containers.

Do not throw ceramics, pots, china, insulators, television tubes, neon, fluorescent and mercury lamps, mirrors, reflectors, window, spectacle and table glass, heat-resistant glass, car glass and lightbulbs into colourless glass containers.

Do not throw ceramics, pots, china, insulators, television tubes, car glass, mirrors, reflectors, window, spectacle and table glass, heat-resistant glass, stained glass and lightbulbs into coloured glass containers.

Sorting hazardous waste

Rechargeable batteries

Commercial outlets (with an area of over 25 sqm) selling portable batteries to retail customers as well as commercial facilities offering wholesale of these products and service points are obliged to accept portable batteries. A person who leaves used portable batteries in such points will not incur any related costs or be required to purchase a new battery.

Batteries

Batteries contain dangerous and toxic compounds, including cadmium and lead, which is why we call them hazardous waste. We put the used batteries in specially marked containers, which are most often found in schools, offices and public utilities.

Electro waste

Broken or used electronic equipment (including used lightbulbs) can be taken to special electro waste collection points. In shops and retail outlets, you will leave your old equipment for free when you buy a new piece of the same type.

Medicines and mercury thermometers

Expired medicines absolutely require disposal. Do not throw them into an ordinary litter bin. Potentially, expired medicines can have a negative impact on the natural environment. Therefore, such drugs, as well as mercury thermometers must be brought to special containers, which can be found in selected pharmacies across the country.

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