Last month’s report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was a wake-up call.

The landmark environmental study concluded that human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented and, in some cases, irreversible ways. It warned that in the coming years we will see more extreme weather – heatwaves, droughts and flooding – caused by global warming.

It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of such sobering predictions. But small actions can make a big difference, and we can all play our part.

And if you’re looking for a place to start, then where better than right on your doorstep? Waste is a huge problem and the more items that can be saved from landfill the better.

Reduce, reuse and recycle is the mantra to remember. Many of us buy more than we need. Try and reduce your consumption by considering whether the items that you’re buying are really necessary.

Before you throw something away, are you sure that it can’t be re-used?

And if it can’t be, can it be recycled?

According to Norfolk Waste Partnership, Norfolk’s recycling rate for 2020-21 was 42.1%.

Councils will take your glass, certain plastics, cardboard and paper waste away – a list of what can and can’t go in your household recycling bin is below.

And to encourage higher recycling rates, Norfolk Waste Partnership recently ran a campaign called Recycle Right to educate the public about what they can do to ensure the contents of their recycling bin isn’t spoiled.

“The most important rule is that all materials should be placed in your recycling bin clean, dry and don’t bag it,” says Heidi Beaumont-Preston, Norfolk Waste Partnership communications and marketing officer.

Clean – Empty and rinse containers so they are free of food and liquids.
Dry – After rinsing, shake off excess water as liquids can make other things soggy and not fit for recycling.
Don’t bag it – Different materials need to go in your bin loose. Don’t put things in carrier bags, bin bags or boxes as they will not be opened at the recycling sorting facility and will end up in general waste.

Of course, there are still some items which end up in your regular bin – and therefore in landfill.

But thanks to TerraCycle, which partners with individual collectors and companies to collect and recycle almost any sort of waste, and other schemes, it is getting easier to give old items a new lease of life and take your recycling to the next level.

Here are seven ideas for starters.

Eastern Daily Press: You can now recycle disposable face mask at branches of WilkoYou can now recycle disposable face mask at branches of Wilko (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Single use facemasks
As well as ending up in landfill, single use facemasks are also increasingly littering our towns, villages and countryside. The high street chain Wilko has collection points for single use facemasks in its stores.

Eastern Daily Press: Once the celebrations are over, foil balloons can be recycled at branches of Card FactoryOnce the celebrations are over, foil balloons can be recycled at branches of Card Factory (Image: surfleader)

Foil balloons and banners
Once the celebrations are over, thanks to TerraCycle your foil balloons and banners can now be recycled at Card Factory stores at Norwich and Great Yarmouth. They’ll be shredded and turned into plastic pellets that can be moulded into new products.

Cosmetics packaging
With hidden components such as springs, cosmetics packaging can be tricky to recycle. But the beauty industry is starting to clean up its act, with some brands taking back your empties for recycling. One of those is MAC, which has a concession in Jarrold in Norwich. If you return six of their containers, you get a free lipstick in return. TerraCycle also has collection points, as do some branches of Tesco.

Old textiles
If you have old clothing, shoes and textiles which have still lots of use in them, good quality items are always welcomed by charity shops.

Some high street chains, including Marks and Spencer, also have in-house clothes recycling schemes, some of which offer incentives such as vouchers when you drop off clothes to them.

Your local charity shop may still take clothes, textiles and shoes which are not in good enough condition to go onto the shelves as they can often be sold to companies which recycle them into new items.

Check with the shop first, and when you drop items off, mark it clearly as ‘for rag’.

Eastern Daily Press: Some supermarkets and TerraCycle now operate schemes to recycle crisp packetsSome supermarkets and TerraCycle now operate schemes to recycle crisp packets (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Soft plastics
While we’ve cut down on single use carrier bags, there’s still plastic lurking in your food shop – including bread bags, crisp packets, biscuit and cake wrappers and salad bags.

They can now be recycled at Co-op stores as part of its soft plastic recycling scheme.

Sainsbury’s has also rolled out a soft plastic recycling scheme to 520 stores.

TerraCycle and Warburton’s have also teamed up to recycle bread bags - there's a collection point at Northgate High School in Dereham.

And TerraCycle is also working with Walkers to recycle crisp packets.

They can be taken to Thorpe Plant Centre, Chapelfield Vets at New Costessey, Ernie’s Zero Waste Shop in Magdalen Street, Norwich, Broadland Cattery at Ingham, the Jolly Farmers Pub at Swanton Abbott and King Street Baptist Church at Thetford, among other drop-off points.

Eastern Daily Press: TerraCyle operates a scheme to recycle disposable contact lensesTerraCyle operates a scheme to recycle disposable contact lenses (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Contact lenses
Your old contact lenses could be given a new lease of life as a plastic bench.

TerraCycle has teamed up with contact lens manufacturer Acuvue to collect and recycle any brand of soft, disposable contact lenses, plus the blister packaging, which is then sorted, shredded and washed and turned into plastic granules which can be incorporated into the production of an array of new plastic products.

There are collection points across Norfolk at branches of Cecil Amey opticians in Norwich, Wymondham and Wroxham, Roger Lee at Sheringham, R M Ling at North Walsham and Boots opticians in King’s Lynn, Fakenham and Great Yarmouth.

Once your biro has run out, it can be recycled. TerraCycle has teamed up with pen manufacturer Bic to collect writing implements and stationery including any brand of pen, marker, highlighter and correction fluid (wooden pencils and chalk aren’t accepted). Collection points in Norfolk include branches of Ryman in King’s Lynn and Norwich. A number of schools also take part in the scheme.
To find out more about what can be recycled via TerraCycle and where visit

What can and can’t go into your household recycling bin?
No matter where you live in Norfolk you can put the same items in your household recycling bin.

Aluminium and steel tins, cans and aerosols
Aluminium foil and trays
Plastic bottles
Plastic tubs, pots and trays

Don’t place batteries or gas canisters in your recycling bin – they can cause fires at the processing plant
Nappies should be placed in general waste only. They make otherwise clean recycling dirty and someone has to remove them by hand
Soft plastics (plastic carrier bags, bread bags, crisp packets)
Food waste
Mixed materials (for example Pringles tubes, pill packets and takeaway cups)

For a full list of what you can and can’t put in your household recycling bin visit