Latest blog

Which plastics can you recycle?

Recycling is a hot topic right now. You might have noticed? Plus, you must be aware of the debate surrounding plastics and their impact on the environment!

Whilst many people think the answer is to stop the use of plastics entirely, they do have some advantages. For example, did you know that most plastic packaging weighs less than its paper-based counter parts? This means you’ll need less fuel to ship them and therefore your vehicles emit less CO2 when they’re in transit.

One of the biggest issues with plastic in the UK is the confusion over plastics recycling. Currently, each council recycles different things! Most collect bottles and some collect tubs and trays – and there’s still two councils that collect no plastics in their recycling at all.

What types of plastics are there?

Part of the difficulty in recycling plastic is that certain types of plastics are harder to sort or reuse than others. Here’s a quick snapshot of the seven different types of plastic there are:

Category Material / Information

Type 1


Polyethylene Terephthalate – this is the most commonly used plastic. It’s used to make every day items like drink bottles and food jars

Type 2


High-Density Polyethylene – this is frequently used for things like shampoo and conditioner bottles, detergent containers and milk jugs

Type 3


Polyvinyl Chloride – often used to make trays for sweets and fruit, as well as plastic pipes and window frames

Type 4


Low-Density Polyethylene – this type of plastic is most frequently used to make grocery bags, cling film, pallet wrap and household items like freezer or sandwich bags

Type 5


Polypropylene – you’ll find this plastic in your Tupperware, nappies, prescription bottles, take out containers and bottle caps. Plus, its often used to make tape too

Type 6


Polystyrene – sometimes you’ll hear this called Styrofoam too. It’s used to make protective packaging, as well as disposable coffee cups, plastic cutlery and refrigerator trays

Type 7


Other – this category refers to miscellaneous types of plastics like acrylic, nylon and fibreglass. Items like eyeglasses, DVD cases and large storage containers are often made from these other plastics

So, which plastics can you recycle?

Most of the plastic packaging you or the end-user will come across will have a symbol on it either indicating the type of plastic it is or its recyclability.

In the UK, plastics categories 1, 2 and 5 are widely recycled – usually at kerbside. Category 4 plastics can be recycled, but not always in your household recycling. However, most large supermarkets offer recycling points for category 4 plastic items like carrier bags. In contrast, you’ll find that categories 3, 6 and 7 are almost never recycled.

However, recycling options are advancing and changing all the time. Take crisp packets, as they’re made from plastic laminated with a metallised coating, they were historically hard to recycle. However, Walkers have launched a countrywide recycling scheme for crisp packets, helping tackle the problem.

Where can you recycle plastics?

This all depends on where you live. First, we recommend you check with your local authority which types of plastics you can recycle at kerbside. They may also be able to tell you if you can take certain plastics to your local tip for recycling.

If your local authority can’t help, check out the website. They have lots of information about what can and can’t be recycled. Plus, they have a search facility that advises where you can take recyclable plastics, based on your postcode.

Small changes make a big difference

If you’re using plastic in your business and want to reduce the amount you’re using or want to limit your packaging’s impact on the environment – we can help. Small changes like changing the thickness of a film your using or switching the sealing method you use on your boxes can make a big difference to the environment. Email or call 01902 496 666 to book an appointment today.