Separating Rubbish and Recycling: Some Data

When you’re making decisions or assessing ones that you’ve already made it’s good to have data to work with. Of course that won’t be possible for a lot of things in life, but when it comes to something like my household rubbish it most definitely is.

I made a conscious decision a couple of years ago to reduce my footprint as much as possible. To that end I’ve been trying to buy food with less packaging and I also invested heavily in making my new house more energy efficient. Apart from anything else the energy efficiency costs me less, as does the recycling, so it’s “win win”. But without data it’s hard to see how much impact your changes in lifestyle and shopping patterns are having.

Fortunately the company that collects my domestic waste provides an online portal where you can easily see details about each and every collection, including the registration plate of the truck that lifted the bin(s). It’s handy when I’m away and want to make sure that the bins are being collected, but where it becomes really interesting and useful is in the breakdown of rubbish by type and weight.

Here’s my data for 2017 so far:

breakdown of domestic waste by type

So far in 2017 35% of my waste is destined for landfill. That’s not bad. It could be better, but it’s not bad at all.

Here’s my data for 2016:

2016 rubbish by type

Over the course of the year my “general waste” was under 30% of the total.

Of course there are a few oddities with my data. I travel quite a lot, so neither image is for a “full” year.

The numbers don’t include glass, as that isn’t collected. I usually go to one of the local bottle banks every few weeks and drop off several bags worth..

For the organic waste I am still using the Obeo bags, as they “just work”. For the main recycling bin I’ve got a couple of sturdy recycling bags that I picked up on Amazon.

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