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Rubbish mountains The UK produces 27 million tonnes of household rubbish each year, and even more from businesses and industry. Yet the amount of rubbish that is recycled is currently the lowest in Europe.

One problem is that for many people living in blocks of flats do not have access to the green collection boxes some councils provide for householders, and not every council in the UK provides this service at present.

Many supermarkets have recycling bins for things like glass, paper, cans and clothes in their car parks, to encourage customers to recycle at least some of their waste.

kobi Nazrul
engraving on glass of Bengali poet Kobi Nazrul at theKobiNazrulCentre Brick Lane, London

Fashion in glass Recycled glass has become fashionable not only in the form of drinking glasses, jugs and bowls, but more recently within the DIY (do-it-yourself) market.

It's now possible to buy a range of tiles and bricks made out of recycled glass - for use in buildings, and especially for bathroom and kitchen decoration, and also in gardens. Despite their relatively high cost, they are becoming very popular especially after featuring in a range of style and lifestyle TV programmes and magazines.

Yet even allowing for this change in fashion, too few people currently recycle their empty glass bottles and jars.

Rubbish Bins

Rats! One problem with the increasing amounts of rubbish we're producing in the UK, especially litter dropped on the streets, has been a huge rise in the size of the rat population.

There are an estimated 60 million rats in the UK - one for every person. They live off rubbish, especially all the fast food that is dropped in the streets.

As known carriers of infection, particularly Weil's disease that can lead to kidney and liver failure, they are not very pleasant beasts - and are increasingly becoming immune to poisons. To help control numbers we must produce less waste.

tin can heap

Pollution As well as the problems caused by litter and general rubbish, other forms of waste have an impact upon our lives.

There are frequent news stories about pollution entering our water supplies. This can be from both factories and from farming.

The chemicals from fertilisers wash into rivers and can poison fish and other wildlife, whilst the slurry from pig feed is also toxic to other species.

Recent cases of fish poisoning have occurred in both Scotland and Wales, following water pollution.

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Project originally funded by EU and DfID with support from Tower Hamlets LEA