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How To Recycle Plastic

Plastic bottles - but can they be recycled?

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, plastic 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?

Related: 10 Shocking Infographics About Plastic Waste In Our Oceans

Plastic Carrier Bags

Most supermarkets in the UK now will collect your old carrier bags for recycling, from any store, not just their own.

Since the introduction of the 5p carrier bag charge in the UK, many more people reuse carrier bags and take their own bags to the supermarket, and this has massivly reduceed the amount of waste carrier bags.

Plastic Food Packaging Bags or Films

Most local councils do not collect this type of plastic packaging for recycling in household collections and so much of it is disposed of in domestic waste, so that it ends up in landfill.

Many councils now collect clean plastic packaging at recycling centres. You can find the nearest place where they are collected here.

Rigid Plastics

Rigid plastics such as toys, gadgets and plant pots have to go in the bin as well. However if the item is electrical or electronic (if you plug it in or it uses batteries) it can be recycled with other electrical items either at your local household recycling centre, or put out with your kerbside recycling if your local council collects these items.

Media Items

Media 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.

Here are some more ways that you can recycle your CDs and DVDs as well as some of the waysthat you can recycle your old videotapes and cassette tapes as well.

The Different Types of Plastic And How They Are Recycled

Guide to Eliminating Plastic: Different Types of Plastics
Source: Blog

How To Reduce Your Plastic Usage

It is always beter to reduce the amount of any material that you use before you consider recycling. There are lots of ways that you can reduce the amount of plastic that you need to recycle.

  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 or reusable 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, although these can be quite hard to find in the UK.  Some health food shops will refill Ecover bottles for example.
  5. If your local council does not offer roadside collections forall types of plastic, you can take sorted plastics to your local recycling collection centre.  It is often requested that bottle tops be removed from bottles, as they are of a different material. You may also be able to deposit them at a supermarket, as many have recycling collection points in ther car parks.
  6. Choose plastic items made from recycled materials.  Plastic bags, fencing, water butts, garden furniture, composters, seed trays and clothing can all be made from recycled plastic materials.

How To Recycle Plastics

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