Think you’re recycling all the plastic from your home? Think again.
The latest statistics show that 79% of all plastic ever created is still in the environment. David Attenborough has even described the seas as “choking with plastic”.
Thanks to programmes such as Blue Planet II, many of us are recycling more and thinking about buying less plastic. Yet, in East Sussex, we’ve found that a quarter of what goes in our bins could have been recycled.
For National Recycle Week (24 September to 30 September 2018) we’ve got a list of ten things that come in plastic packaging that you can recycle from your home.
Do you recycle these plastics?
- Shampoo and conditioner bottles.
- Shower gel and bubble bath bottles.
- Bathroom cleaner and bleach bottles (spray dispensers can’t be recycled).
- Hand soap bottles (but remember you can’t recycle the pump dispenser).
- Moisturiser bottles and tubs.
- Plastic meat trays.
- Yoghurt pots.
- Fruit punnets.
- Margarine tubs.
- Envelopes with windows.
Top tips for recycling:
- Give containers a quick rinse before recycling.
- Squash your bottles and then place the lids back on.
- Pump tops and spray lids can’t be recycled.
- Never forget those bathroom bits again – keep a separate bin or bag in the bathroom just for recycling.
- See more bathroom recycling hacks on the Recycle Now website.
You can find out more about what you can and can’t recycle by checking with your local district or borough council.
Share your recycling tips in the comments!
Article updated January 2020.
Lewes District has a remarkable reputation for recycling but it asks that plastic bottles and their tops are placed in recycling bins separately. So, squash but don’t put the cap back on!
Plastic is such a useful material but it is absolutely vital that it is not permitted to wreck our environment, so ESCC tips are welcomed and hopefully will be taken onboard.
Thanks for your comment! We’ve now amended the article.
Of the 10 items on your list of recyclables Brighton & Hove will accept only four. Moisturiser tubs, plastic meat trays, yoghurt pots, fruit punnets, margarine tubs and window envelopes are unacceptable. The council advises that their inclusion may lead to rejection of the entire bin. I’d be grateful for your comment and advice.
Hi Neil, thanks for your comment. Our list are items that can be recycled by East Sussex councils, and this unfortunately may not include items that Brighton and Hove council accepts. We would always recommend checking what can and can’t be recycled with your local council first. Sorry I can’t be of more help.
We would be interested in where and how these different materials are sorted now they are mixed all together in one bin?When we rang the council about this they could not tell us.
Hi Michael, thanks for your questions and apologies for the delay in response.
Local councils in East Sussex do now mix together the materials when they are collected. Usually you’ll be asked to keep glass separate. The items are then separated later at recycling facilities and most of our recycling in East Sussex goes to Viridor’s recycling facility in Crayford in Kent. To learn more about how recycling is sorted once at a recycling facility, this Recycle Now video shows the process: https://www.recyclenow.com/recycling-knowledge/how-is-it-recycled/recycling-centre
Hope this answers your questions. All the best, Laura
Quiet frankly the whole of the UKs recycling is in a mess. There should be unified rules right across the Uk. Why should it be possible for some areas to recycle more products than other councils.I put it down to 1 thing and that is lack of funding. It is also shameful for me to see Kier on many occasions tipping our recycled bins into the general waste especially when we have gone to the trouble of outsorting and washing all the items. We also put glass bottles separately in the special small bin provided only to see it being tipped into the ordinary recycle bin. Yes there are I am sure many households that could do better but I think the government and the local authorities need to also look at the way recycling is carried out and make sure there is adequate funding for recycling to be undertaken more efficiently and taken more seriously by the majority of councils. If not people start to question why should they bother when they see instances mentioned above. It is the future of our planet that we are talking about and come on councils and government it is time for you all to step up a notch. If not it will be our future generations that will be paying the price.
Thanks for your message and the very valid points you make.
Just one point to clarify and that’s that while recycling material is often mixed together when they are collected, the items are then separated later at recycling facilities. The collection contractors have some vehicles which have separate storage areas for glass, and some that don’t – so that’s why we ask for glass to be kept separate. But please be reassured that even if it is mixed, it is separated later. Most of our recycling in East Sussex goes to Viridor’s recycling facility in Crayford in Kent. To learn more about how recycling is sorted once at a recycling facility, this Recycle Now video shows the process: https://www.recyclenow.com/recycling-knowledge/how-is-it-recycled/recycling-centre
Can I ask why we are required to separate out our recycling into plastics and drink cans in the black box, glass in the green box and other recycling into the green bin, if it all gets thrown in together and then separated again later on ?
Hi Helen, it’s best to continue to separate just in case a different vehicle is used one week which does allow for glass to remain separate. While it would be separated later if it is mixed, it does help the process along if this is done upon collection. Thanks for recycling!
We have heard that black food trays etc are either non-recyclable or difficult to recycle. If this is the case, should we be putting them in our green bin? I live in Hastings.
Hi Phillip, thanks for asking this question.
The majority of black plastic packaging is coloured using carbon black pigments which do not enable this packaging to be sorted by optical sorting systems being used widely in plastics recycling. As a result, black plastic packaging sometimes goes for energy from waste or is recycled into lower value materials where polymer sorting is not required.
However, increasingly, detectable black colourants are being used so the trays and pots become ‘visible’ again. Hastings continue to collect these trays so please continue to put them in your green bin.
Hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions.
How about the plastic bags things like bread comes in, are they recyclable?
Hi Gary, sorry for the misinformation on this. I’ve just been told that the bags that bread comes in can be recycled!
I do recycle and I do rinse. Given that a lot of households are paying for water and in some cases people are finding the cost of water a problem would recycling rates not be better if people did not have to rinse recyclables?
I am aware that some countries do not require items to be rinsed.
Hi Maria. Thank you for your comment, and it’s a good point. However, we ask residents to do a quick rinse of their recycling for one simple reason – items that have leftover food on them or liquid in them can contaminate the recycling process. Food waste cannot be recycled and if there’s too much of it in recycling lorries and at the materials recovery facility (MRF), where the sorting and takes place, the whole process can be affected. Too much food and the load may not be able to be recycled at all. I hope that clarifies, and thank you for doing your bit to recycle and rinse. Iain.
Is it now possible to recycle plants pots through local recycling? The majority we accumulate are black with the recycle symbol number 5 plastic type PP. We live in Rother.
Hi Chris, unfortunately plant pots will not compost down and will therefore contaminate the whole lorry load of green waste. There are currently no options available for recycling plant pots. Best wishes, Laura