Plastic recycling is one of those things we all know is important – most local authorities collect plastics for recycling along with household waste. But it’s difficult to know for sure that you’re doing as much as you can when it comes to plastic recycling. Most of us know how to recycle plastic bottles, but what about yoghurt pots? Food packaging? Is the plastic bag your carrots came in suitable for the recycling? This article will go through some common symbols for recycling plastic, what plastics can and cannot usually be recycled, and how to prepare your plastics for collection.
How to Recycle Plastics: Know Your Materials
Wouldn’t it be nice if all packaging came with a clear label on it that said how it could be recycled and where? Well, there is a system of formal plastic recycling symbols in place that you might find on packaging. It normally looks like three curved arrows that form the shape of a blunt-edged triangle, with a number in the middle.
Here are two numbers in particular to look out for:
- A number 1 in the middle of the symbol signifies PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, which is a kind of plastic widely used in things like drink bottles and plastic tubs and pots, and is almost always recyclable.
- A number 2 in the middle of the symbol means you’re dealing with high-density polyethylene, or HDPE, which goes into a lot of other plastic packaging and is also widely recycled (although not always).
If you’re wondering whether or not you’re looking at something suitable for plastic recycling, look out for one of these two symbols – they usually mean you can recycle the packaging, either at home or at a local collection centre. You can also find a detailed breakdown of all the plastic recycling symbols here.
How to Recycle plastic Bottles and Packaging – Preparing Your Plastic Recycling
It’s a good idea to make sure your recycling is clean, especially if you’re putting out food and drink packaging for recycling. There are a couple of reasons for this – a practical one for you is that most recycling containers don’t have a lid, and if your plastic recycling has food scraps still clinging to it you could attract pests to your bins.
There are other reasons too, though – many automatic recycling plants sort through containers by weight, and will reject containers that still have food or liquid inside them as being too heavy. The machinery used in recycling plants could also be damaged or clogged by food or liquid, so it’s best to keep your recycling as clean as possible. Rinse out your packaging with warm water and, if necessary, a few drops of Persil dishwashing liquid, and you should be good to go!