First published: 02/06/2023 -

Last updated: 21/03/2024 -

Verified by our Editorial Panel


A little more recycling and a little less rubbish is a way we can all take action against climate change and protect our environment.

Most of us know that recycling is important, but we need to use fewer raw materials in the first place. We can do this by reducing what we buy new and reusing and repairing items as much as possible. By keeping things as long as we can, we help reduce harmful carbon emissions caused by the manufacturing, delivery and disposal of goods.  

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What can we do?

The recycling process should start when we first think about buying something. Not everyone can do everything; we can’t all repair clothes and the things we buy often come in packaging, but there’s always something we can do. Here are a few steps to take to try and avoid the need to recycle as much:  

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Reduce what we buy new

Only buying what we need is a great way to prevent and reduce waste. We can also use our buying power to choose products with less packaging, avoid single-use products, reuse food containers and refill our water bottles rather than buying drinks when we’re out. 

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Retain and repurpose

We can keep things we own for as long as possible or get creative and find alternative uses. Repurposing is a great way to take old or unwanted products and create something new. 

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Rent or borrow

You can rent or borrow gardening and DIY tools, camping equipment and much more. Find out more about what you can borrow and how from the Library of Things.

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Reuse and repair

The longer we keep things in use the fewer precious resources we use. We can have things repaired (or repair them ourselves if we have the skills), donate things we no longer need to charity shops, take them to reuse facilities or sell them on second-hand sites. 

If we’ve done all we can to reduce and reuse, it’s time to recycle. How can we do this better?

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Know your bins

What goes in the green recycle bin? Find out more about what can and cannot be recycled – empty perfume and aftershave bottles can be recycled at home for instance but drinking glasses can’t yet. 

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Reduce single-use plastics

Wondering if single-use plastics can be recycled? The answer depends on the type of plastic and recycling options in your area. All councils in Wales collect plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays. Other types of plastic will need to be taken to out-of-home recycling points, find out more here.

Why take Action?

We’ve all worked together in Wales to recycle as much as possible. There’s still more we can all do, to build on what we’ve already achieved and get to a place of zero waste. This means that hardly anything is buried or burned by reusing and recycling. Together, we can:   

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Lower our environmental impact

45% of our greenhouse emissions come from the products we use and buy. The best way to stop this is by reducing the amount of rubbish we produce by reducing what we buy new, reusing and repairing where we can and recycling as much as is possible.


Save money

We can save money by reducing what we buy new and being more efficient with what we have. For example, repairing or repurposing items instead of buying new ones. We can also donate items we don’t need or use to support those in need. Local sharing apps like Olio are a great place to start

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Save energy

Often, less energy is needed to make products from recycled materials vs raw materials. Producing new aluminium from old products uses 95% less energy than making it from scratch. Recycling also reduces the need for extracting (mining, quarrying and logging), refining and processing raw materials, which reduces carbon emissions.    

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Conserve our natural resources

We can help conserve the limited amount of natural resources on our planet. For example, recycled paper saves trees and forests, which helps protect our plants and wildlife and reduces water usage. We can also prevent threats to coastal wildlife by using alternatives to single-use plastics.

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Create energy through food waste

Recycled inedible food waste is used to create biogas, which is an energy source, as well as a natural fertiliser.

Recycling charity saves tonnes from landfill

Wastesavers is preventing over 1,000 tonnes of household items going into landfill each year, while saving families hundreds.

Find out more

What is Wales doing?

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