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Waste collection and recycling

This page is an introduction to how waste from churches and homes can be dealt with in an efficient and environmentally-friendly manner.


The UK is increasing the amount of waste it produces year on year.

Camden Council has estimated that the Borough of Camden alone produces about 100,000 tonnes of waste annually.

The majority of this waste is either incinerated or ends up on landfill sites. The UK’s landfill sites are rapidly filling up, especially around London. Those around London are now actually full.

So the quantity of waste we send to landfill needs to be reduced drastically – there is little or no new space for more sites.

Plastic and packaging need to be reduced as much as possible. The ‘great Pacific garbage patch’ has become notorious in recent years. We are all implicated in this. It needs to be halted at source.

Unfortunately, the government does not offer incentives for recycling of non-domestic waste. This is the responsibility of individual businesses – including churches. Some local authorities provide a service to churches, but not all.

Waste collection and recycling companies

The First Mile and Paper Round are medium-sized companies undertaking local collections of a comprehensive range of waste arisings, on a zero to landfill basis.

The First Mile now collects and recycles from London Diocesan House.

Domestic and non-domestic waste

Non-domestic waste accounts for a great majority of all waste. A large proportion of non-domestic waste is comprised of industrial waste and construction waste; both of these include much hazardous waste.

Churches with extension or reordering projects should consider that the waste generated by a single project could likely exceed all the other waste from the same church for a period of years – and include consideration of this aspect at project planning stage. See Sustainable building.

See also the Waste and Recycling Advisory Programme (WRAP).

Dealing with our waste

We cannot throw things ‘away’ any more – if we ever could. There is no such place as ‘away’.

Much of our waste could be cut without having any impact on our quality of life. This can be done by following the three Rs of the ‘waste hierarchy’, which, in order of preference, are:

  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle.

Below are some simple, practical ways in which we can all play our part:


  • Only buy what is needed
  • Buy recycled and more durable items. Even if these are initially more expensive, in the long term their purchase will prove more economical. For example, reduce the use of disposable cutlery or crockery for church events
  • Avoid buying products with large amounts of packaging. London Bio-packaging and Keep Cup are among suitable companies and products
  • Avoid using disposable cleaning products. For example, use cotton cloths, not disposable kitchen roll and install roller towels rather than using disposable paper towels
  • The Cheeky Panda supply an attractive range of sustainable toilet tissues, made from natural bamboo
  • Use email appropriately to reduce paper wastage. Remember to print (if necessary at all) on both sides of the paper.


  • Repair, restore or adapt what you already have – use you own DIY skills and those of friends and neighbours. In the case of electrical equipment, seek professional help – otherwise, DIY repairs should be cheaper than buying something new
  • Donate unwanted items to second hand outlets, rather than throwing them into the rubbish bin. In particular, always try to find a new home for unwanted computers – there are charities who re-condition for use overseas
  • Reuse products such as containers.


  • It is essential that we all recycle our waste. In the end, raw materials will run out if we do not recycle! See Resources depletion and sustainability
  • Recycling is a really simple way of helping the environment every day. If your local authority does offer recycling scheme, make sure that your church participates – recycling items such as paper, tins and glass
  • Mark recycling points with all the items that are recyclable. Assign responsibility to someone for sorting through the recycling thoroughly and transporting to the recycling depot or putting the waste out for collection
  • Compost your flower, garden and kitchen waste. Composting is a simple, natural process that turns kitchen and garden waste into a nutrient rich, cost-free product to enhance the appearance and health of your church grounds
  • Printer cartridges can be recycled through Oxfam, Action Aid or Rainforest Concern
  • Have you considered recycling your water? See Conserving water in church and home.

More information

See Resources on the environment.

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