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Nottinghamshire County Council - Proud of our past, ambitious for our future

Reducing waste and recycling more

We cannot stop waste production entirely, but everyone can make a significant contribution. Think before you bin! It saves energy and natural resources, helps to reduce pollution and reduces the need for landfill. Here are some ideas for reducing waste and recycling more.

Ideas to Help


  • Avoid giving presents with excess packaging
  • Have a go at making your own presents or cards
  • Reduce unsolicited mail by registering with The Mailing Preference Service.  tel: 0845 7034 599 or write to: The Mailing Preference Service,  Freepost 29,  LON20771, London, W1E 0ZT
  • Unaddressed Mail - Opt out of Royal Mail deliveries of unaddressed mail that is delivered to every household. To opt out e-mail: optout@royalmail.com.
  • Consider using doorstep delivery services for organic vegetables, milk and other fresh produce - goods often come in little or returnable packaging
  • Buy solar-powered items such as pocket calculators and watches.
  • Choose products that can use mains power rather than batteries
  • Use rechargeable batteries when appropriate.
  • Consider growing your own vegetables - many varieties can be grown in small gardens.


  • Donate unwanted furniture and appliances to a furniture reuse scheme
  • Get ideas from www.co-oproduct.org on reusing your household packaging and everyday waste materials to make desirable new objects
  • Donate books to your local library
  • Repair broken items rather than buy new ones
  • Take old carrier bags to the shop with you to use again or use them as bin liners
  • Scrap paper can be used both sides, for children's drawings, shopping lists
  • Re-use containers like margarine tubs for storage of nails or colouring pencils
  • Donate unwanted clothing and small household items to charity shops and jumble sales.
  • Reuse items wherever possible. For example yoghurt pots are ideal for growing seedlings, swap magazines with friends, or give them to surgeries for waiting rooms.


  • If you can, compost your garden waste and vegetable peelings or take your garden waste to a recycling centre
  • Use local recycling facilities such as glass bottle banks, plastic bottle banks, can banks, shoe banks, textile banks etc
  • Participate in any recycling service your district or borough council may offer from your home.

Shopping provides many opportunities for using your influence as a consumer to purchase low-waste products.


  • If you are buying a computer, enquire whether it can be upgraded easily without the need for a complete replacement. This means you will only need new components rather than a completely new computer.
  • Many products can be bought loose and in less packaging; DIY products (such as screws and paint brushes); fruit and vegetables; meats and cheese; stationery
  • Buy concentrated products or products sold in refill packs such as detergents, fabric conditioner, household cleaners and herbs and spices
  • Avoid buying lots of different cleaning products which are designed for different purposes, choose one multi-purpose cleaner instead
  • Avoid buying mini portions of food such as cereals, jam and coffee on a regular basis
  • Use crates to take home your shopping, or support 'bag for life' schemes
  • Buy re-useable products instead of disposable ones, like rechargeable batteries, plastic picnic tableware instead of paper ones.


  • Buy products made from recycled materials e.g. toilet/kitchen rolls
  • Reuse carrier bags as bin liners or take your reusable bags with you to the shops.


  • Choose products that come in packaging which you know can be recycled.

Gardeners are very good at finding all kinds of new uses for items that might otherwise end up in the bin. Here are some suggestions:


  • Remember to compost your garden, vegetable peelings and kitchen waste
  • Only grow what you need.


  • Recycle for Nottinghamshire has teamed up with getcomposting.com to provide an exclusive offer of reduced priced home compost bins, Water Butts and accessories. To find out more and to view the full range of products go to: www.getcomposting.com or call 0844 571 4444.
  • Empty, cut-down mineral water bottles can be used as mini 'green houses' for young plants
  • Old carpets, cardboard, newspapers, lawn mowings and shredded prunings make excellent mulch and are useful for killing off weeds
  • Use old wood and pallets to build your own compost bin.


  • At the garden centre look for products that are made from recycled materials such as plant pots, containers and garden benches made from recycled plastic, recycled paper liners for hanging baskets and compost and soil conditioners made from recycled organic materials.
  • Green waste is processed at recycling centres to produce a compost soil conditioner called Pro Gro (formerly Naturemix), which is available to purchase at all sites.

There are many ways you can help your employer or business save money on waste disposal costs.


  • Pack your lunch in a reusable box rather than foil or cling film
  • Avoid wasting paper and other materials - use only what you really need
  • Encourage your company to adopt waste reduction techniques throughout the organisation
  • Share memos, journals and other publications rather than everyone having their own copy. Make better use of notice boards for shared information
  • Avoid using paper when a phone call, e-mail or personal visit might do instead
  • Only print or photocopy when really necessary - use the double-sided and/or reduction facility whenever possible.


  • Choose refillable items such as printer cartridges, glue etc.
  • Reuse folders rather then order new ones
  • Use scrap paper to take notes and messages.  If you need to stick them up, sticky tack (such as Blu Tak) can be reused many times


  • Recycle toner cartridges
  • Purchase recycled and low waste products. A detailed Guide to Recycled Products is available. See website: www.recycledproducts.org.uk for more information
  • Recycle cans, plastic and glass bottles, paper, card, etc.

Get you school involved with the Schools Waste Action Club


  • To provide low waste packed lunches you can pack your lunch and drink in a reuseable lunch box and flask.
  • Use refillable pens rather then disposable ones


  • Use pens, pencils, rulers made from recycled materials
  • Pass on good quality school uniforms and school books to school sales or younger pupils.


  • Write on both sides of a piece of paper, use paper as scrap before recycling it, and avoid over reliance on hand-outs.

'The Waste Hierarchy'

In the United Kingdom we have a Waste Hierarchy, which shows us how we should be dealing with the waste we produce.

[ Zoom ]
Waste hierachy diagram

Reduce, Reuse and recycle

The 'Reduce', 'Reuse' and 'Recycle' elements are referred to as the '3 R's'.


Try to reduce the amount of waste you produce, as this is the best way to help the environment! If you cannot avoid producing the waste, try …


Think of ways you could reuse something, like shredding paper for your hamster rather than buying bedding or saving glass jars for storage. If you can not reuse something try…

Recycling (and composting)

This is the next best option as it enables the materials you throw away to be used again by making them into new products.

If items cannot be reused or recycled it is sometimes possible to recover the energy that they contain through a waste treatment process.

Finally, for the residual waste for which none of the other options are possible, disposal in landfill is the last resort. 

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