Recycling is a lot more complicated than it seems, and it’s easy to get muddled with so many different rules to follow.
But we are here to help you with an ultimate guide to recycling, to make sure that your recycling stays recyclable, and doesn’t end up in a landfill.
You might be familiar with the symbol above. You can find it on all kinds of plastics. You might think that this symbol means that your item can be recycled, and it does, sort of. The number inside the symbol is the part you need to pay attention to. And here’s why:
When you see a 1 on your item it means that the product is made of PET/PETE/Polyethylene Terephthalate (it has a lot of names).
These are your commonly recyclable items such as clear plastic bottles and food packaging like fruit punnets.
This stands for anything made from HDPE/High-density Polyethylene. These are milk bottles, cleaning products or shampoo bottles, all Code 2 plastics are widely recycled.
This code means that your product is not generally recyclable. These products are made from PVC/Polyvinyl Chloride. This includes shower curtains, windows, clothing, toys (if your clothes and toys are still in good condition why not consider donating them to a charity or to a shelter to help someone in need).
Code 4 indicates plastic made from LDPE/Low-Density Polyethylene. These plastics are not always widely recyclable, it’s best to check with your local facility to see if they accept them.
This includes cardboard food containers, carrier bags and magazine paper.
You might want to check with your local provider to see if they have facilities to recycle code 5 plastics too. These plastics contain PP/Polypropylene and include food tubs and pots, microwave meal trays
These plastics are made of PS/Polystyrene such as some yoghurt pots, take-away containers, cutlery and cups. These plastics are hard to recycle, but it’s always worth checking with your local provider just in case as new technology is developed frequently.
Code 7 is everything else, and all these plastics are not generally collected for household recycling. This includes items that are made from a blend of plastics such as crisp packets and salad bags.
The codes also give you an idea of what your products are going to be turned in to when they are recycled (if you are interested in that sort of thing). You can read more about what each of the codes mean, as well as find information on how to reduce your plastic usage and what some of the other recycling symbols mean by heading to Which? by clicking here.
There are also alternatives available for some non-recyclable items such as crisp packets. Walkers run a scheme around the country to collect crisp packets and turn them into something useful. You can check where your nearest scheme is here.
WHAT CAN’T I RECYCLE?
Products coded from 3 to 7 are not widely recyclable, and most of these cannot be recycled at all. It’s best to check with your local provider to find out if they have the facilities to accept recycling with any of these codes.
You also can’t recycle any food contaminated items like pizza boxes, napkins and food tray liners. You can’t recycle wood and you can’t recycle shredded paper (you can compost this though).
If you are ever in doubt about whether you can recycle an item or not, check out Recycle Right’s webpage here for more generic advice, or speak to your local recycling provider.
DO YOU LIVE IN COLCHESTER?
If you live in Colchester, you can find out everything you need to know by heading to the Colchester Borough Council webpage here.
If you live outside of Colchester your local council should have their own recycling guide as well, just do a quick internet search.
You can also use this website to find your nearest recycling points, and where to recycle specific items if you need to as well.
Whenever you put anything in the recycling you need to remember to rinse out all your bottles and pots and dry them before you put them in the recycling.
This is because wet and food contaminated items do not get recycled and they are put in a landfill instead (even if you put them in your recycling box).
And if in doubt put it in your waste bin. It might sound shocking, but it’s better to put recycling accidentally in the bin instead of putting waste in your recycling.
If one piece of waste is accidentally put in the recycling it means that all of your recycling will end up on a landfill because it’s contaminated, and the manufactures will not buy it to turn it into another product. Contaminated recycling can also slow down the recycling process because it will take longer for the plant to sort through the material.
IT TAKES PRACTICE, BUT YOU’LL GET THERE!
We hope this guide helps you along on your recycling journey, as we know it can all be a little confusing and complicated. But your planet will definitely thank you for the effort you have taken to learn how to recycle right!
Your SU Big Plan Environment Team x