Packaging with recycle symbol in it

Recycling Room

What do the recycling symbols on packaging really mean?

Packaging Refill
Sustainable Zero Waste Product

Recycling and Beyond – The Circular Economy

Our global economy is dominated by a linear pattern of use, where we take raw materials and resources from the Earth, make them into products and then at end of life dispose them as waste. There is a magnitude of negative impacts across this linear process with not only resource depletion but mass environmental degradation across extraction, manufacture, and end of life processes.

Although the linear economy has been instrumental to global development and health improvements and prosperity, it has significantly contributed to the greatest threat the world has ever faced: Climate Change.

“Circular Economy – a systems solution framework that tackles global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste and pollution”. - Ellen Macarthur Foundation.

We desperately need to rethink our approach to ensure waste is eliminated, resources are circulated at their highest value and nature is regenerated. The resources, materials, and energy used to make products we used daily should be more valued; within a circular economy the aim is to keep this ‘value’ within the system and reprocess resources to generate further economic, social, or environmental benefit, using our resources efficiently.

This will reduce the amount of waste generated, the extraction of new raw materials and help to kerb over consumption. The circular economy is key in tackling climate change while readying businesses and organisations for the increasing global volatility and supply challenges we continue to face. Businesses, organisations and individuals therefore, need to embrace circular concepts in day-to-day life.

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So, what can individuals or businesses do before resorting to recycling waste?

·        Look to prevent waste all-together – you could opt for refill solutions, buy wisely choosing products with minimal to no packaging, review internal processes to minimise unnecessary waste.

·        Reuse waste where possible – Can you reuse the waste in any way? Speak to suppliers about take-back schemes? For reuse of products consider charity shops, ruse platforms or take-back schemes.

Despite this, recycling still plays an important part of the circular economy allowing resource conservation, energy saving and ultimately reducing the amount of waste incinerated or worse landfilled.

What can be recycled?

The majority of waste can be recycled in one form or another, either through re-use of the whole product, re-use of the components, energy recovery, or breaking down the components into raw materials ready for re-manufacture.

Whether you are an individual or a business you can play a role in protecting the environment. To find out what you can recycle locally – enter your postcode here.

For information and guidance on what products and materials can be recycled and how, click here.

Recycling Tips

In the home:

  • Confirm what your local council collect at kerbside and the nearest recycling centre for other household waste not collected at kerbside - use the postcode locator or your local council website.
  • Keep recycling containers next to your general waste bin. Have you thought about your bathroom, often shampoo bottles etc., are forgotten?  
  •  Hard to recycle items such as flexibles, batteries or textiles can often be recycled at collection points locally or at large retailers like supermarkets.
  • Have you considered compost or a food waste bin? You can purchase a home composting bin at your local garden centre and get started today

At work:

  • Aim for Zero Waste to Landfill Certification and waste optimisation strategies.
  • Remove general waste bins from underneath employee desks and provide recycling bins with clear labelling.
  • Ensure employees are educated in the importance of recycling with posters, engagement sessions, and regular reminders.
  • Appoint a Recycling Champion to motivate employees and manage initiatives.


Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment - otherwise referred to as WEEE - is the fastest growing waste stream in the UK.  Electrical items often contain a range of materials including precious metals. If not recycled these valuable materials are lost to landfill or incineration leading to contamination of water and soil.

Use the postcode locator to find your closest electrical recycling centre, or if you are a business or organisation that requires electrical waste collections Beyondly can help.

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National Waste Strategies

England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have each developed a National Waste Strategy which outlines how the UK plans to deal with the increasing amount of waste that is being produced year on year.

Defra introduced the Waste and Resources Strategy for England in 2018 and then January 2021, Defra published a Waste Management Plan for England. Both detail the current waste management situation in England and planning framework for future development and progression.

In October 2017, SEPA published a Waste Data Strategy for Scotland. Which aims to improve the current information available on waste and deliver a range of benefits including aiding the implementation of Scotland's Zero Waste plan. In February 2016 SEPA also published A Circular Economy Strategy for Scotland, to set out priorities for moving towards a more circular economy.

Wales have published a towards Zero Waste plan which aims not only to provide benefits for the environment but improve social and economic wellbeing as well. In March 2021 the Welsh government published Beyond Recycling a strategy to support circular adoption.

Northern Ireland published their Waste Management Plan in 2019. This strategy aims for sustainable development and overall waste reduction for the country. An updated circular economy strategy is due in 2023.

someone refilling reusable bag with produce (nuts & dates)