Today’s linear ‘take, make, dispose’ economic scene utilises on loads of cheap, single-use, easily accessible resources and energy, so that an unprecedented growth of rubbish is now holding the world to ransom.


Plastic production especially has increased to 20 times the size over the last 50 years.  Yet across all countries combines, we only reclaim 14% of global plastic for recycling... and of that only 10% goes into useful streams. 

A global perspective of recycling doesn't really exist because available methods massively depend on the governments, organisations, industries and people in the area. Countries all vary so much in successful collection, separation and use of recyclable materials. Who do you think is leading the world? (Guess what: Wales is #3!)

How to.....

Basically, we've just got to make the effort... Every plastic window ripped viciously out of envelopes, every tetrapack cleaned passionately goes toward making recycling your item far more likely. Often sorting comes down to people going through rubbish by hand, so we might as well help out.


An astoundingly simple government app makes it easy to find out what you can recycle, where and how. It links you through to information on all possibilities at your curbside, and your local government web pages. 

Find your nearest

Recycling locations



There are a lot of different polymer types and forms of plastic in the waste stream. This makes it more difficult to sort and reprocess than other materials. Due to the light nature of most plastic packaging it means that a lot needs to be collected to make it economic to do so. Therefore, most collections have focused on key packaging types where there is an end market in place i.e. plastic bottles, which are heavier than most other plastics and therefore relatively easy to handle and sort.


I hear constantly that this causes alot of disgruntled, dissent from recycling. But remember, reprocessing technology is constantly improving and more uses are being found for waste plastics...



lids / caps

Until recently, consumers were advised to remove lids from their plastic bottles, but most organisations will now take bottles and separate out the lids. Caps on HDPE clear milk bottles are much lighter colours now, which has been done to help minimise colour contamination.


Pots, tubs and trays

Many local authorities are now allowing residents to place plastic pots, tubs and trays in their kerbside collection containers. They may also be accepted at recycling centres. Check the plastic symbol type below to make sure. 



Polystyrene has an entirely different make-up to the polymers used in plastic bottles  and due to the mixture of compounds these plasti c types are hard to recycle and not generally recycled in the UK


Black Food Trays

Sorting plants often use optical sorting techniques to identify the different polymer types,. But they can't identify black plastic trays e.g. those used for ready meal packaging.  Bummer. Currently most local authorities will not collect this type of packaging. They will be rejected at the sorting factory. Sure this will develop soon...


cariers bags & plastic film

Recycling film is generally for businesses who produce large volumes of this waste, e.g. stretch-wrap around pallets from the delivery of incoming goods. Film that is recycled is generally only used for low-grade applications, such as bin liners, because of the contamination effect of the printing ink, making it only suitable for dark colours, such as grey or black.


Most household collections will not accept plastic films due to problems with separating them from other materials. They can also get tangled up in the machinery at sorting plants. In addition, the very lightweight nature of the material means that it is of low value and it may be highly contaminated.




Not currently recycled:


Any non-Polyethylene film

(e.g. PP, PVC, others)

Bubble wrap


Crisp packets

Food and drink pouches

Film lids from food trays



Plastic carrier bags

Plastic bread bags

Plastic bags from breakfast cereals

Plastic wrappers from multipacks of cans and plastic bottles

Plastic wrappers from toilet roll and kitchen towel

Plastic freezer bags

Plastic magazine (home delivery) and newspaper wrap

Polyethylene Terepthalate

Fizzy drinks | Mineral water bottles | Squashes Cooking oils

High Density Polyethylene

Milk bottles | Juice bottles Washing up liquid | Bath and shower bottles

pvc, vinyl

Usually in bottle form; however, not that common these days

All codes 1-3 are recycled pretty much everywhere, this is the stuff we can work on to help. 

Low Density Polyethylene



other stuff

Many types of packaging are made from these materials; for example, plastic formed around meats and vegetables

plastic codes

Check the bottom of your plastic packaging to find the code.

You've probably already considered all this before. But if not, this incredibly patronising movie, presumably for adults but delivered as if for children, is a reminder of all the things we can but may forget to recycle. 

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