The UK produces over 400 million tonnes of waste annually; a quarter comes from households and businesses, the rest comes from construction and demolition, sewage sludge, farm waste and spoils from mines and dredging of rivers. The following figures were reported a few years ago and are said to be improving – but by how much?
The amount of waste produced in the UK:
- in one hour – would fill the Albert Hall;
- in one day – would fill Trafalgar Square to the top of Nelson’s Column
- in nine months – would fill Lake Windermere
Each person in England and Wales produces an average of 300 kg of household waste each year.
Each year, the average British family throws away six trees worth of paper.
About one fifth of the contents of household dustbins is paper and card (of which half is newspapers and magazines) – equivalent to over 4kg of waste paper per household each week!
On average, each person throws away seven times their body weight in rubbish every year.
Each tonne of paper recycled saves fifteen average trees and helps surrounding habitat and wildlife.
Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 15-watt energy efficient bulb (equivalent to 100-watt normal bulb) for 24 hours!
The UK disposes of 50 million tyres a year – the law prevents them going to landfill.
As a result of the Common Agricultural Policy, the UK threw away 30,000 tons of vegetables in ten months to guarantee “market price” for the people who grew them.
We dispose of over two million television sets a year; they are now classed as Hazardous Waste and can no longer go to landfill.
Transporting a year’s worth of UK waste would require five times the world’s fleet of supertankers or a nose-to-tail queue of juggernauts stretching six times around the globe!
Every tonne of biodegradable waste produces 200-400 cubic metres of landfill gas – in 1998, landfill sites released nearly 30% of UKs methane emissions.
1 litre of oil can pollute 1 million litres of fresh drinking water.
Waste oil from nearly 3 million cars oil changes is not collected; if collected correctly, this could meet the annual energy needs of 1.5 million people.