Compared with ten years ago, we all know a lot more about the importance of recycling but can you recycle kitchen roll? Awareness of environmental issues has grown and more of us treat the process as an essential part of life now. Nevertheless, there are still some big gaps in our knowledge and some recycling habits that need to improve.
In 2017, the UK was 44.3% of the way to its target of recycling half of all waste by the year 2020. With an average growth rate of just 3.9% per five years, without drastic action, it’s unlikely we’ll achieve the goal. There are many different reasons for this – not least the inefficiency of government policies – but one that’s rarely discussed is contamination.
For instance, paper based kitchen rolls are one of the biggest sources of contaminated recycling across Great Britain. Many households assume that because kitchen roll is made from paper, it is recyclable. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. What’s more, the presence of just one unrecyclable item in a bin can cause the entire load to be discarded.
This article takes a closer look at the recycling problems caused by kitchen roll and asks whether there’s a simple solution.
Can You Recycle Kitchen Roll?
At present, most recycling facilities in the UK do not accept used kitchen roll in drop offs, roadside containers or collection bins. Technically, there’s no issue with unused kitchen roll. However, the problem is efficiency. Council workers don’t have the time to sift through recycling rubbish and determine if your paper towels have been used. So, they just put a blanket ban on paper towels of all kinds.
It may sound unfair but it’s a question of efficiency, in this case, rather than these materials being unsuitable for recycling. They’re not. They’re made of paper. We all know you can recycle paper. What most of us don’t know is how clean all reusable materials must be before they become ‘recycle ready.’ For an item to be repurposed, it first must be scrubbed of its previous life. If it cannot be thoroughly cleaned, it cannot be recycled.
Kitchen roll cannot be cleaned. It is made for cleaning up spills, so any used materials are obviously soiled and unsuitable. The majority of local councils require the whole bin or container to be scrapped if any kitchen towels are found at all. It makes the container an unknown entity. Rather than spend time and money checking to ensure one soiled item is a stray mistake, the entire load is scrapped with regular rubbish.
Is Kitchen Roll Biodegradable?
Are There Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Kitchen Roll?
The good news is there are lots of eco-friendly alternatives to kitchen roll for those trying to avoid single use materials. The right products for you will depend on how you want to use them. Some of us use kitchen roll instead of plates for sandwiches and other snacks. Sometimes, paper towels are used for wrapping and protecting food as well as wiping it off countertops.
Some Eco friendly alternatives are:
- Reusable paper kitchen towels. Yes, that’s right. These eco-friendly paper towel products have been designed to be used for up to 100 times per sheet.
- Washable bamboo kitchen towels: These ones from EcoEgg, can reportedly handle eighty five uses.
- Washable cotton Kitchen towels are strong and durable and if taken care of can last a very long time.
- If you want to getting rid of paper towels altogether. Instead, keep natural sponges by your kitchen sink to wipe up spills. Then, just rinse them off afterward. Standard dish sponges that are stored and clean properly can last a year or more.
The Final Word On Kitchen Roll Recycling:
Kitchen roll is extremely biodegradable being made of paper; in the right conditions, it’ll disintegrate very quickly and leave no toxins or chemical traces. This makes it even more frustrating that kitchen towels cannot be included in recycling bins. However, the solution is simple. To reduce our paper waste, we can all do two things.
The first is making sure used kitchen roll doesn’t go to landfill. Wherever possible, kitchen towels should be composted. Before you put them in a garden compost bin or pile, roughly tear the used pieces into smaller strips. This will aid aeration by preventing pieces of paper from blocking airflow to areas of the pile.
The second thing we can do to reduce our paper waste is buy reusable eco-friendly alternatives. Products like EcoEgg’s Reusable Bamboo Towels can still (and should) be composted when they’re thoroughly soiled. The difference between them and regular towels is a single eco-friendly pack can be used for a whole year or more instead of kitchen roll which is a single use product that requires a lot of energy, chemicals and virgin wood to produce.