October 18 , 2023

Recycle Week (16-22 October) is an annual awareness campaign that aims to get more people recycling, more often. This October’s theme is The Big Recycling Hunt, focusing on the common recyclable materials that are missed by households. The 2023 edition is a landmark occasion as the flagship event celebrates its 20th anniversary, inspiring children, families and communities alike to get involved and spread the word.

By participating in Recycle Week this month and going forward, you can learn more about how you can recycle more efficiently and productively at home, and inspire friends and family to do the same. With small changes, we can all make a significant positive impact.

We recognise the significance of climate change and our recycling habits go hand-in-hand with this global issue. As far as sustainability, health, well-being and community engagement go, Recycle Week can be the perfect event to make those positive lifestyle changes that we encourage and empower young people everywhere to make. This month’s recycling agenda coincides with some of our other forthcoming challenges that you can get involved in to strengthen your impact.

An introduction to the National Recycle Campaign

Recycle Week was established in 2003 by the recycling charity Recycle Now. It is the flagship event in their calendar, aiming to bring increased, focused attention to recycling and engage people across the UK.

The campaign highlights the benefits of recycling, as well as the items that can be recycled at home that often get overlooked. A different theme is chosen each year that reflects current issues to keep messaging fresh and impactful.

What is The Big Recycling Hunt?

For 2023, the theme is The Big Recycling Hunt, drawing attention to ‌recyclable materials that are commonly missed by households. It is estimated - according to a recent Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) report, that British households create over 26 million tonnes of waste, of which 12 million tonnes are recycled, with 14 million tonnes ending up in landfills or incinerated because it was not recycled correctly. 

The Recycle Week campaign specifically highlights materials ranging from plastic film and Tetra Pak cartons to household batteries and small electronics as things people may not know can be recycled. There are also everyday items like glass jars, clean foil, and plastic bottles that can easily be overlooked.

By focusing messaging on these missed items for 2023, Recycle Week aims to significantly increase the collection of commonly under-recycled materials. Small changes by individuals can add up to make a big difference across the country.

Why is Recycle Week important?

Recycle Week serves some key purposes:

  • Raising awareness - Highlighting the types of materials that can be recycled reminds people to recycle items they may have previously thrown away. The week draws attention to facts that make a significant difference in everyone’s habitual recycling practices.

  • Education - Many people do not know exactly what can and can't be recycled. Recycle Week provides an opportunity to communicate proper recycling practices.

  • Encouraging action - By participating in the week, people are more likely to make recycling a regular habit even after it is over. The associated events and initiatives are created to spark motivation and instigate positive change.

  • Driving engagement - The week brings together schools, businesses, communities and local councils to focus on recycling activities. This collective participation magnifies the impact.

How to get involved in Recycle Week

There are many ways individuals, families, businesses and organisations can participate in Recycle Week events and activities:

At home

  • Familiarise yourself with all the recommendations for recycling properly at home.

  • Download the Recycle Week poster to display and remind your household of what can be recycled.

  • Take The Big Recycling Hunt pledge to commit to looking for often-missed recyclable items.

  • Share photos on social media of you and your family recycling using #RecycleWeek.

  • Encourage neighbours, friends and family to participate in Recycle Week activities too.

For schools and youth groups

  • Register for the Action Pack, which includes presentations, activity sheets and ideas for lessons.

  • Take part in the poster competition by having students design creative posters about recycling.

  • Organise a recycling-themed day or week at school, with special lessons and activities.

  • Arrange a trip to a local recycling centre so children can see first-hand how it works.

  • Start an after-school eco-club focused on recycling and other sustainability topics.

For Businesses

  • Register to receive a free pack with posters, guides and email templates to engage your workforce.

  • Appoint "Recycle Champions" among your staff to promote good recycling practices internally.

  • Review waste contracts to ensure they align with current best recycling practices.

  • Set up recycling stations with proper signage around business premises.

  • Ask suppliers about the recyclability of packaging and explore eco-friendly alternatives.

For Community Groups

  • Organise a local clean-up day to collect litter and educate about proper waste disposal.

  • Plan creative competitions or challenges to engage residents of all ages in recycling.

  • Work with your local council to support their Recycle Week activities and promotions.

  • Advocate for better recycling facilities and services, where improvements could be made.

  • Collaborate with schools or businesses on joint sustainability initiatives.

Even as the world grows more digitally connected, it’s important to remember that we all have a responsibility to ensure better preservation of materials, resources and energy. Businesses have been focusing heavily on hitting eco-friendly goals by finding innovative ways to connect on a personal level with their (mainly) online clients, stakeholders and customers. One way is to pledge support for meaningful initiatives or community projects that people value and share an interest in. It is also important that individuals feel as if their efforts make a difference on a day-to-day basis. 

There is no better time to spearhead and connect with clients and employees by taking part in national campaigns like Recycle Week which presents a valuable chance to rethink our relationships with waste and resources. Our individual actions collectively make a huge difference and by taking part in events and activities that reinforce the key message, we can create lasting change beyond the week itself.

The impact of Recycle Week

Recycle Week amplifies and energises recycling engagement across the UK every year. 

Some key results from previous years include:

  • 14% of UK adults recalled seeing or hearing about the #RecycleWeek campaign in 2022, equating to over 7 million people.

  • 47% of those UK residents reported doing something differently when it came to recycling.

  • In past years, millions of students and businesses have taken part in active campaigning.

  • Hundreds of local events have taken place, facilitated by councils and community groups.

The campaign accelerates year-round work by Recycle Now to improve recycling infrastructure and awareness nationwide. The spikes in participation during ‌dedicated campaigns translate to more people recycling more often long-term.

Start Planning Now and Recycle in the Longer Term

As Recycle Week 2023 comes and goes, make a commitment today to recycle today and in the long run too. Browse the Recycle Now website for inspiration and free resources you can use to activate your workplace, school or community. Together, through our small daily actions, we can make recycling second nature now and in the future.

By Annie Button

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