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By Laura Gosshawk on 26/09/19 | Category - Asset Finance

Recycle Week 2019 - Day 4 - Plastic Challenge

Plastic - What can be recycled and what cannot?

The very first thing to say, would be check with your local Council because it really does vary. The Recycle Now website is a fantastic source of information and for one council for instance, it also states that you must ensure your ‘recycling is clean and dry’. An issue that was also raised on the BBC’s ‘War on Plastic with Hugh and Anita’, where a pizza box could not be recycled as it was too greasy. 

According to a BBC article 47% of people argue over what plastic they can recycle. It seems we are trying as a nation to recycle more, but we are still unsure as to what we can and cannot pop in our recycling sacks for collection.

Below is an image of fizzy drink bottle and a bag of salad. Can both be recycled? One? Or None?



According to Which?, drinks bottles are Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) and are used to make more PET products and are easy to recycle. The salad bag is made of ‘Other’, which tends to go to landfill, and are notoriously difficult to recycle. The link shows a very good guide of the most commonly used plastics, what they are used for, their next life and ease of recycling.

The Which? Site also includes ‘packaging symbols explained’ which is a great reference for checking goods individually when deciding if they can be recycled or not.



A real issue with plastic recycling seems to be black plastic, commonly seen in takeaway food containers. While technically recyclable, according to Which?, pure carbon-black plastic is not picked up by the infrared sorting machines in UK recycling facilities and is rejected. Are we doing enough to highlight this to people so they know categorically what cannot for now be recycled?


It’s worth trying to speak to your own council, who processes the recycling, where does it go, if I put something in a recycling bag that can’t be, is the whole bag contaminated/sent to landfill? Ie what sorting processes are in place? We need to start asking these questions and taking accountability for our plastic use, recycling and knowing what happens to it next once it leaves our house and kerbside.



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