What is recyclable plastic?  Even the best of us finds plastic recycling a minefield.  Local Authorities have tried to make it easier by using terms such as: plastic bottles, yoghurt pots and margarine tubs. However, what do you do if you don’t have these exact items?  How do you know if they collect and recycle the plastic?

Plastic waste is not ideal, but this guide will help you identify each plastic and work out what your Local Authority will take.

PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) – Recyclable plastic

1 PET plastic symbol

1 – PET plastic is the most widely recycled. It is often used for single use clear plastic bottles.

You can recycle this plastic if your Local Authority refers to:

  • Plastic Bottles
  • Fizzy pop bottles
  • Mouthwash bottles
  • Yoghurt pots (check the plastic before recycling as some can be made from polystyrene)

PET can be recycled into polyester fabric and filling for for fleeces, carpets and cushion fillings.

2 – HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) – Recyclable plastic (check Local Authority)

2 HDPE plastic symbol

HDPE can be recycled.  However, you will need to check with your Local Authority to ensure it is recycled in your area.  HDPE is often found in stiff coloured bottles/tubs.

You can recycle this plastic if your Local Authority mentions:

  • Milk Jugs
  • Plastic bottle caps
  • Bleach/detergent bottles
  • Shampoo bottles
  • Margarine tubs
  • Ice cream tubs

HDPE can be recycled into pens and detergent bottles.

3 – PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)  – Non Recyclable Plastic

3 PVC plastic symbol

PVC is not recyclable in normal collections.

You can find this plastic in:

  • Cling film
  • Blister packaging
  • Hoses
  • Table Protectors
  • Plastic pipes
  • Plastic outdoor furniture

 

4 – LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene) – Recyclable plastic (check Local Authority)

4 LDPE plastic symbol

LDPE can be recycled. However, you will need to check with your Local Authority to ensure it is recycled in your area. This is a hard flexible plastic.

You can recycle this plastic if your Local Authority mentions:

  • Bread bags
  • Frozen food bags
  • Squeezable bottles i.e hand cream tubes

LDPE can be recycled into bin liners.

5 – PP (Polypropylene) – Recyclable plastic (check Local Authority)

5 PP Plastic symbol

PP can be recycled. However, you will need to check with your Local Authority to ensure it is recycled in your area.

You can recycle this plastic if your Local Authority mentions:

  • Packing tape
  • Plastic Straws
  • Take away tubs
  • Ketchup bottles
  • Plastic picnic ware
  • Carrier bags – Local authorities often don’t collect carrier bags, but can be recycled in local supermarkets

Polypropylene can be recycled into brooms, brushes, garden rakes and plastic trays.

6 – PS (Polystyrene) – Non Recyclable Plastic

6 Polystyrene plastic symbol

Polystyrene is not recyclable in normal collections.  There 2 types of polystyrene (hard, brittle plastic) and expanded polystyrene (light, insulating, waterproof plastic)

Polystyrene

  • CD Cases
  • Plastic forks
  • Yoghurt pots (check the plastic before recycling as some can be made from recyclable plastics)

Expanded polystyrene

  • Foamy takeaway packaging
  • Meat trays
  • Packing peanuts
  • Styrofoam
  • Insulation

 

7 – Other – Non Recyclable Plastic – Non Recyclable Plastic

7 Other plastic symbol

Other plastics are not recyclable in normal collections. This categorises all other plastics including bioplastics, composite plastics (like crisp wrappers), plastic coated wrapping paper and polycarbonate (which contains BPA).

 

Still having trouble?

Contact your local authority, or let me know if you are still having issues identifying what plastic can be recycled.  I would love to know how you get on identifying your recyclable plastics

Finally, don’t forget to make sure the containers are clean, empty and squashed (where possible) when recycling.

Guide to plastic recycling Infographic

Useful links:

  • https://www.recycle-more.co.uk/how-is-it-recycled-/plastic-recycling
  • http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/types-plastic
Categories: Guide

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