Recycling plastics

We are often asked by local residents about plastic recycling. We have listed some of the more frequent questions which we hope you find useful.

Where can I recycle plastic bottles?

Plastic bottles can be recycled at the kerbside using your insert or blue lidded bin, at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre or at some Local Recycling Banks.

What sort of plastic bottles can I recycle?

You can recycle all plastic bottles including:

  • plastic milk bottles 
  • plastic drinks bottles 
  • shampoo and shower gel bottles 
  • detergent and washing up liquid bottles 
  • bleach and household cleaning bottles

We only accept plastic bottles. We do not collect:

  • plastic bags (some supermarkets recycle carrier bags) 
  • plastic tubs (e.g. margarine) and pots (e.g. yoghurt) 
  • fruit and vegetable boxes or punnets 
  • plastic trays (e.g. meat or food trays)

Why can I only recycle plastic bottles?

There are more than 60 different types of plastic polymers that are used to make a wide range of plastic packaging. If mixed together this causes contamination of the polymer types and reduces the quality of the plastic and the value of the material.

The majority of plastic bottles are made from:

  • PET (clear bottles e.g. drinks bottle) 
  • HDPE (cream or opaque bottles e.g. milk or bleach bottles) 
  • PP (many mixed types e.g. shampoo bottle)

There is high demand for these types of plastics, from companies that reprocess bottles to make new plastic products. Advances in infrastructure to process this material means that everyday 4 million plastic bottles that would otherwise have been exported for reprocessing or landfilled are now recycled in the UK.

The label says it can be recycled but it's not a bottle - what should I do?

Just because the label has a recycling logo on it doesn't mean it can be recycled. In theory all plastics could be recycled but there needs to be the correct technology, markets and demand for recycling the product for this to happen. In the future we may be able to recycle more types of plastics but for now it is just bottles.

What can I do with plastics that can't be recycled?

Avoid buying products packaged in extra plastics where possible, and reuse containers like ice cream tubs. Plastic toys and household items could be donated to charity shops. Clean plastic film such as mail wrapping or a bread bag can be recycled with carrier bags at supermarkets. If this isn't possible put waste plastic items in your general waste bin.

What do my plastic bottles get recycled into?

Plastic bottles get recycled into new bottles and food packaging as well as items such as clothing and home insulation. You may be wearing plastic bottles if you have a fleecy jacket or be sleeping under them as some duvets are now made from recycled bottles. All this is possible because of the high quality of the plastic used which ensures a premium material capable of being recycled in this way.

What are manufacturers doing about packaging in general?

Consumer demand for less packaging as well as UK laws on packaging have encouraged manufacturers and retailers to look at new ways of using packaging. A lot is happening, but whilst some packaging reductions are obvious, other changes are very subtle. For instance, you can easily see that the outer box has been removed from tomato purée, and ready meals have card sleeves rather than full boxes, but would you notice that a glass jar is lighter in weight?

If you want to find out more from the packaging industry see www.incpen.org

Stay connected

Sign up for email updates about waste and recycling

Rate this page

The feedback you provide will help us continue to make improvements to our website.

Go