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More than two billion tons of waste are produced each year in the world, and if measures are not taken, more than three billion will be reached by 2050 [1]. In the Isle of Man, waste management accounted for 3% of net emissions in 2019, however all our imports of goods are accounted for globally. As an Island we rely hugely on imported goods.  

“We are using at a faster rate than the earth can create. By August each year, we have used more than the natural world has had time to create. So for 4 months of every year we are tapping into our earths “overdraft” and never repaying.” 
- Clara Isaac, Recycle Collect 

For us and the world to net zero by 2050, we need to use products and services in a way that respects the limits of our planet’s natural resources, see unnecessary waste as unacceptable, and reuse and recycle as much as possible. By taking action in these areas, we are all contributing to help tackle the global climate emergency. 

Did you know?

Over the past 50 years, world plastic production has doubled.

Did you know?

Food waste generates about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Key areas of waste 


Only 9% of all plastic produced is recycled [2]. Plastics are particularly problematic cause direct impacts on marine species, such as tangling and choking, but they also break down to micro-plastic and toxins are infiltrating all levels of the food chain, creating a problem which may impact on generations well into the future. 

Fast fashion 

Fast fashion is damaging to our planet. We have enough clothing on the planet for six generations.  

Fast fashion clothes are often made with toxic dyes and use an excessive amount of water. These toxic chemicals often end up being released out to the areas surrounding the factories, damaging the local environment, and threatening the health of the communities who live near these factories, as well as local wildlife and ecosystems. [3]

Not only this, but the factory workers are not treated well, working conditions are poor and they are paid very poorly. Often, factories such as these are known as sweatshops, and they are known for exploiting workers in places that has limited opportunities for its population. [3]  

Food waste 

Roughly one-third of the food produced that is intended for human consumption every year is wasted or lost. This is enough to feed 3 billion people. [4] 

Food waste in the Isle of Man is a big problem. Apps like Gander can help reduce the amount food waste on our supermarket shelves.

Freeze food instead of wasting it, have leftovers for meals the next day.

What is a circular economy? 

A circular economy is one way of keeping products in use for as long as possible. It means redesigning products to be more durable, reusable, repairable and recyclable. Beyond product design innovations, it also means changing the way we consume and use goods and services, and rethinking consumerism as a society. [6]


Live by 6 R’s of Sustainability

Rethinking our consumption habits is key to making a positive change. Before we recycle lets first make our way through the 6 R’s: rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, then recycle.  

1. Rethink: 

The most important R. The concept of rethinking asks us to question our habits of consumption and to consider how this might impact the environment. A useful question to ask yourself is “do I really need that?” or “do I really need to do that?”. 

2. Refuse: 

Refuse simply asks us to stop accepting the things that are harming our environment. Refuse encourages us to stop purchasing and consuming things that we do not need. It asks us to consider whether the item is necessary or not, and if it’s not, we should avoid purchasing it or consuming it. 

3. Reduce: 

Reduce comes from the 3 environmental R’s, and is the first in the trio (reduce, reuse, recycle). It’s the concept of reducing the amount of stuff that we use, buy and already have. It encompasses the concept of consuming less = wasting less. 

4. Reuse:  

Instead of throwing away an item, can you think about the ways you can use it again. It could be that you repair the item and continue to use it in the same way, or maybe you can come up with a completely different use for it. Another option could be donating it to a local charity, selling it on eBay (or similar site) or finding a friend who will make good use of it. Giving new life to old objects means that we can cut down on the waste that ends up in landfill. It also means that we don’t have to go out and buy a new item simply to replace it, which means saving money in the long run.  

Repurposing is also a great opportunity to get creative.  

5. Repair:  

Repair asks us to fix broken things, so that we stop using natural resources to make new items. If something you own breaks, try to fix it. Or if you can’t fix it yourself, find someone or hire someone who can. There are lots of options on the high-street - for example shoe repair shops, leather repair shops, tailors who can sew that hole for you. 

6. Recycle: 

The final of the 6 R’s, recycle is probably the one you’re most familiar with. Recycle is defined as the return of items to an earlier stage in the production cycle, for example raw materials. It should be something you do only in the situation where you really can’t reuse something. This is why it's the last of the 6 R’s.  

Recycling is very important because it reduces the resources we extract from the planet and reduces the amount of waste in our landfills, which ultimately means that the air and water around us is cleaner.  [7] 


“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.”

- Pete Seger 

Recycling on the Isle of Man 

So much of what we use can be recycled – cardboard, newspapers, magazines, paper and grey card, glass, cans and aluminium foil, plastic bottles (and other plastics labelled with certain numbers), batteries and cartons (Tetra pack) in some cases. All must be rinsed and separated. [8]

Civic Amenity sites 

There are four Civic Amenity sites on the Isle of Man, Northern, Southern, Western and Eastern, which provide recycling service for a number of materials.  Click here to find out where your closest Civic Amenity site is and items they accept. 

Public recycling bring banks 

There are also over 60 'bring banks' where you can deposit used glass bottles, cans, paper and batteries. Check with your local authority to see where your nearest bank is.

Douglas City Council Recycling Centre

We spent a day with Douglas City Council as they collect the recycling in central Douglas. Come behind the scenes at the recycling centre, and see where your waste goes once you throw it away!




Kerbside collection 

Fortnightly kerbside recycling collections take place in Braddan & Douglas  is a company that offers kerbside recycling collection to all local areas. Check if they serve your area if your local authority currently doesn’t offer this service you can join via a subscription. 

Supermarket soft plastics service

At Tesco and Co-op stores on the Isle of Man, you can recycle soft plastics. Soft plastics are lightweight plastics that often cannot be placed in recycling bins at home. This includes things like plastic crisp bags, soft fruit punnets, chocolate and crisp wrappers, bread bags and fruit bags. [9] 


Isle of Man Creameries collection and recycling service

Isle of Man Creameries use plant-based cartons and are fully recyclable. At present, they have recycling points for their milk cartons at the Northern, Western and Southern civic amenity sites and Tesco car park. Onchan Commissioners have also kindly arranged bins at the following recycling sites: Birch Hill, Ballachrink, The Hub and Port Jack. They are taken to a dedicated plant where they are turned into the carboard inners for tubing.  

In partnership with, we are now also able to offer a doorstep carton recycling collection service.  

The collections will include any carton (products made from Tetrapak) which include milk alternatives, juices, soups and more! [10] 

Choose Pre-Loved

Charity Shops to Fashion Agencies

There are several charity shops across the Isle of Man. These shops provide second-hand items at affordable prices, fund charitable services that are in demand on the island, reuse thousands of tonnes of items and provide a community space for volunteers and customers. 

Vintage shops do a similar job by providing high quality vintage or antique items at competitive prices. Both contribute to the circular economy, and bring a new lease of life to pre-loved items.

Local events and car boots often take place for pre-loved garments or online marketplaces also have local area search for goods. These often are a good place to buy bundles of clothing, particularly for children who outgrow clothing really fast. Ask also at your local school for pre-loved uniforms.

Over the years, searching and buying pre-loved items can benefit your pocket and the planet.

Current Isle of Man initiatives

Single-Use Plastic Reduction Plan

The Isle of Man Government is committed to reducing single-use plastic used within the government and on the Island. The Single-Use Plastics Reduction Plan for the Isle of Man Government provided a lead, and the Single-Use Plastic Reduction Plan for the Isle of Man Community extends this across the community. 

Single Use Plastic RegulationS

From 19th October 2023 the supply of specified single use plastics will be ended within the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man was one of the first places in the British Isles to bring in legislation to ban all the items listed under the EU Plastics Directive, leading the fight against plastic pollution alongside jurisdictions such as Scotland. 


UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man, with the support of Manx Utilities run a scheme to make it easy to obtain drinking water when on the move. Refill Isle of Man encourages shops, cafes, restaurants, tourist attractions and other publicly accessible premises to display an easy to recognise sticker, appear on an app and fill up people’s water bottles with cold tap water free on request.  

The scheme will reduce the amount of plastic that damages the environment and, ultimately, the amount manufactured.