How We Dispose Of The UK’s Rubbish

Where Does Your Rubbish Go?

The connection between domestic central heating and house-hold rubbish bins seems a little tenuous to say the least, but nonetheless, it is there.

Before the soaring popularity of central heating, most homes were warmed by living fires. They burnt coal or wood and also pretty much anything else flammable that was considered rubbish.

This meant that the rubbish bins often had no more than ash to be disposed of. As the 1960’s turned into the ‘70’s, central heating became a must have.

Cheap natural gas helped the changes that saw the end of the majority of open fires in people’s houses, and consequently, an increase in house-hold waste.

Another huge change began in the late’70’s and in the course of the 1980’s, the shopping habits of the nation altered completely.

The out of town supermarket brought a complete change to the way the nation shopped, with packaging one of the keys of fresh food retailing.

Pre-packed, shrink-wrapped, polystyrene-backed, poly-trayed, along with the huge rise in cheap plastics manufacture, the throw-away society was filling rubbish bins as fast as they could be emptied.

Most rubbish was sent to landfill, where heavy machinery crushed and pushed it into a hole in the ground.


A burgeoning population and growing environmental awareness saw great strides in recycling, as the millennium came to its end, and it has now engrained itself into the country’s psyche that recycling our house-hold refuse is as natural as throwing it on the fire was fifty years ago.

Recycling is, by necessity, big business. Our councils collect our rubbish which we have separated to a certain extent, into different vehicles for different materials. Paper, cardboard, glass, aluminium, the list is extensive and growing, as the ability to recycle different products grows.

Garden waste recycling has become an unlikely, but sustainable industry. The organic plant waste is taken to site, where it is shredded and pushed into windrows, long piles set in rows.

The material is mechanically turned over a number of times to keep up the oxygen levels needed to allow the organic breakdown process to reduce it to compost within around 8 weeks. This can be used back in the garden, or by farmers or horticulturalists.

Recycling aluminium is hugely successful, and can be done time and time again, it is reckoned that because of this, some 75% of all the aluminium ever made, is still in productive use today.

The drinks can thrown into recycling today, could be melted, reformed, refilled and back on the shelf within 6 weeks, using one-twentieth of the energy needed to manufacture one from raw materials.

It’s strange where central heating can take you.