How To Recycle Plastic

Plastic bottles
Image Credit: J A G Soberano

The world's annual consumption of plastic materials, according to Waste Online, has increased from around 5 million tonnes in the 1950s to nearly 100 million tonnes today, which means that we use 20 times as much plastic today than we did 50 years ago.

Fortunately most local councils now accept some types of plastic in their kerbside collections, including milk containers, water bottles, toiletries bottles and containers from houshold cleaning products. Some even collect yogurt pots and other plastic tubs.

What about the plastics that are not collected in kerbside collections?

Plastic Carrier Bags Most supermarkets in the UK now will collect your old carrier bags for recycling too, from any store, not just their own. Better still, reuse carrier bags or take your own bags to the supermarket.

Plastic Food Packaging Bags or Films Cannot a t present be recycled so will have to go to land fill.

Rigid Plastics such as toys, gadgets and plant pots have to go in the bin as well.

Media Items such as CDs, DVDs, cassettes and videotapes can all be recycled, but cannot be included in roadside collections. Check with your local council if they will be accepted at a recycling centre.

Recycling CDs & DVDs
Recycling Videos & Cassettes

How To Reduce Your Plastic Usage

  1. Reject over-packaged items (a tough choice when four packs of a product encased in a plastic wrapper is cheaper than buying the items individually.  Yet that wrapper must increase the production costs surely?)
  2. Choose products that use recyclable packaging such as glass rather than plastic.  Another tough choice - a favourite fruit juice of mine just changed its packaging from glass to plastic. Grrrr.
  3. Reuse plastic packaging where possible – margarine and ice cream tubs can be used for storage and for planting seeds in for example.  Drinks bottles such as water bottles can be refilled from larger containers (or the tap of course).  Be careful never to reuse drinks bottles for substances such as cleaning materials where they could be accidentally drunk by a child. 
  4. Choose products where refill options are available.  Many health food shops will refill Ecover bottles for example, and The Body Shop will also refill bottles.
  5. If roadside collections are not available for plastics, take sorted plastics to a recycling collection centre.  It is often requested that bottle tops be removed from bottles, as they are of a different material.
  6. Choose plastic items made from recycled materials.  Plastic bags, fencing, garden furniture, water butts, composters, seed trays and fleeces can all be made from recycled materials.

Most Popular in Recycling
CDs & DVDs
Glasses (Spectacles)
Milk Bottle Tops
Printer & Toner Cartridges
......Recycling A-Z