• Connie Summerfield

Which Plastics Are Recyclable?

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

Knowing what you can and can’t put in the recycling is really useful for us to do our bit for the environment. It’s helped by mindful companies placing ‘recycle me’ labels and disposal information on packaging, but this doesn’t always happen. When packaging doesn’t show this information, it makes our lives that bit harder, leaving us to do the easy thing and just throw it in the bin. 

However, if we knew what the packaging was made of, we can easily decipher for ourselves whether it should be recycled or landfilled. This is, again, made easy with the visible difference in between packaging types, like paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and tin.

What if we can't see the difference between the types? How are we supposed to know what to do with it? Here's our handy guide to figuring out which type of plastic can be recycled or not. Just look for each of the symbols on your product or packaging to find out what to do with it.

Check with your local council to find out more about recycling items made of these materials.

1. PET or PETE - Polyethylene Terephthalate - Recyclable

PET is a single-use plastic that can be recycled and made into

materials for carpets, cushion filling, fleeces and other items made of polyester.

Found as:

Clear plastic bottles for things like soft drinks or cleaning products. Also found for some Yoghurt pots but always check the symbol as sometimes the plastic type varies.

2. HDPE – High-Density Polyethylene – Recyclable

HDPE can be recycled into pens and detergent bottles however; some recycling centres or

councils don’t accept it so remember to check with your local council.

Found as:

Stiff Solid Colour Bottle or Tub for things such as milk, bottle caps, ice-cream tubs.

3. PVC/V – Polyvinyl Chloride – Non-Recyclable

PVC varies in colour and thickness so always check to see what the plastic is made of.

Found as:

Cling film, outdoor furniture, plastic pipes like hoses and plastic table cloths.

4. LPDE – Low-Density Polyethylene – Recyclable 

LDPE is recyclable and can be made into bin bags, but check your local council to find out if they accept it. 

Found as:

Hard Flexible Plastic for things such as food bags, squeezy bottles for body creams and bubble wrap.

5. PP – Polypropylene – Recyclable

PP can be recycled as brushes, brooms and rakes or plastic trays. This plastic has a variety of uses so remember to check what items are made of and if your local council collects it.

Found as:

Plastic straws, sellotape, take away tubs, table sauce bottles.

6. PS – Polystyrene – Non-recyclable

PS isn’t recyclable and can also come in a variety of forms. Such as light, insulative or waterproof materials (expanded polystyrene) or a harder, brittle plastic.

Found as:

Meat trays, packaging peanuts or Styrofoam, insulation. Or as expanded polystyrene for CD cases, plastic cutlery and some yoghurt pots.

7. Other – Non-Recyclable

Other plastics can’t be recycled as they’re usually made up of bioplastic, composite plastic, polycarbonate or are plastic coated.

Found as:

Crisp packets, wrapping paper.

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