There’s a lot going on in the recycling world at the moment, and it’s not all good news. While we human-folk are becoming more aware of recycling and minimising waste as a whole, it turns out it’s pretty easy to get it wrong. And then there’s the issue of supply chain transparency throughout the recycling industry, not to mention numerous cases of recycling fraud. But one of the best things we can do if we want recycling to be taken seriously is to make sure we do it properly. We spoke to Dom Turner, owner of local chalet company Skiology, who, in his quest to be more green, sought advice from the local authorities. He’s helped us come up with this handy guide to recycling in the Haute Chablais.
“As someone who endeavours to run their business sustainably, I was shocked to learn that the green dot frequently found on packaging (the one with the two green arrows circling each other) doesn’t mean that something is recyclable. This lead to a total recycling overhaul in the Skiology household. We began religiously scanning our packaging to make sure we were recycling it correctly. We even contacted the Environmental Representative of the Communauté des Communes de Haut Chablais (our local council) to find out if we could be doing anything more.
Once you start following the recycling symbols correctly, you’ll most likely be shocked by how much more you’re putting in the regular, non-recyclable bin. You may even be tempted to keep on putting non-recyclable items in the recycling, just to make yourself feel better. However, doing this means you risk ‘contaminating the batch’. In some countries, if you contaminate the batch, that batch goes to landfill, rather than to the recycling plant, as it’s not cost effective to re-sort it.
In my experience, the best thing you can do to minimise waste is to reduce your packaging consumption first. At Skiology we do this using the concept of the three Rs:
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
The three Rs are in that order for a good reason. Plastic and paper products will degrade the more they’re recycled; for example, a birthday card might be recycled to become a cereal box, which might then be recycled and become a napkin, at which point the fibres will be too short to recycle effectively. So if you can reduce and reuse before you can recycle, less materials will be wasted.
That’s why we buy concentrated cleaning products in bulk containers from ecofriendly cleaning company Delphis, which reduces the overall amount of packaging. We then decant and dilute the concentrated products into reusable spray bottles before recycling any other packaging.
“We began religiously scanning our packaging to make sure we were recycling it correctly.”
As you can see, making the effort to reduce your carbon footprint this way is a bit of a lifestyle choice, but it’s definitely achievable and it can support as well as protect your local environment. You can buy locally grown fruit and vegetables from the local markets, which are not packaged. You can also save on packaging by weighing out your own dried goods like oats, nuts and seeds in La Vie Claire, Carrefour and Casino supermarkets. There’s a great range of reusable food wrapping and produce bags out there to help you do this, too.”
But obviously, there’s only so much we can reduce and reuse before we need to put something in the bin or the recycling. Here are a few helpful tips to help you recycle as efficiently as possible:
- Don’t recycle your glass bottles and jars with the lids still on. Most metal lids are recyclable but only if you separate them – although make sure you double-check the packaging just to be sure.
- Make sure you take any plastic stoppers / pourers / corks out of your glass bottles before you recycle them, too. Some local bars collect corks and reuse them, as does Total Laverie in Saint Jean d’Aulps
- Sturdy paper and cardboard can be recycled, but not when it’s been bound in some way to plastic – think take-away coffee cups and those baguette bags with a plastic window
- In our valley you can’t put big brown cardboard boxes in the public recycling bins because they’re too big – if you’re out on holiday your accommodation provider will have a card for the local déchèterie, so just pack the boxes down and let them deal with the rest
- Make sure you clean out your cans, jars, bottles, even pizza boxes. If it’s too dirty, it’s impossible to recycle.
We have created a handy Morzine Source Magazine Guide to Recycling that you can find on page 44 of our printed magazine or you can download here.