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Which Plastics can be Recycled?

Almost all plastics can be recycled.

Plastics are an ever-present part of society with large numbers of products being made from them. It is important to note that the vast majority of plastics can be recycled. There is a business case for recycling as well as an economic one. We present them both here.

Plastics that can be recycled for business purposes include:

The Scale & Costs of Plastics Usage

Plastics are used everywhere & are evident in the waste stream. By recycling them, businesses can generate an income stream and so the argument for recycling can be made on an economic as well as an environmental perspective.

As well as an income stream, businesses can save money on landfilling (landfill tax is currently £64 per tonne).

There is a huge economic benefit to businesses recycling plastics but the environmental benefits include:

  • In the UK, plastic made up 9% of our household waste. We currently only recycle around 24% of plastic.
  • The US Environmental Protection Agency say that plastics make up 13% of the country’s waste.
  • Over 50% of litter found on UK beaches in 2008 was plastic, an increase of more than 120% since 1994
  • 75% of post consumer plastic waste is sent to landfill (Landfill tax alone is £64 per tonne & so businesses should not be doing this!)
  • Plastic bags and other plastic rubbish thrown into the ocean kill as manyas 1,000,000 sea creatures every year
  • If you lined up all the polystyrene foam cups made in just 1 day they would circle the earth
  • If you lined up all the polystyrene foam cups made in just 1 day they would circle the earth
  • Recycling just one plastic bottle saves enough energy to power a 60W light bulb for six hours (Recoup)

Markets for Recycled Plastics

Markets for some recycled plastic expanding in the UK and overseas. There is a huge demand for recycled plastics in the UK & an insatiable demand from China.

Currently, the UK has the capacity to be recycling plastics at a greater rate. The capacity to process post-consumer plastics and the market demand for recovered plastic resin exceeds the plastic that is currently going to be recycled.

The primary market for recycled PET bottles is carpets and textiles, while the primary market for recycled HDPE is bottles. PET is also recycled into clothing.

Recycled HDPE can be manufactured into recycled-content landscape and garden products, such as lawn chairs and garden edging.

Recycled LDPE is used to manufacture polymer lumber for decks and fencing.

Advantages of Recycling Plastics

The advantages of recycling plastics are:

  • Money for the recycler – many plastics have a value that can be realised when they are recycled as opposed to being landfilled
  • Reduced carbon footprint – with more products being recycled, there is less petrolium being refined into new plastics
  • Reduced production of nitrogen oxide & sulphur dioxide
  • Reduced reliance on oil – with a greater proportion of plastics recycled, there is less need for the UK economy to import petroleum

If you’re in doubt about whether your plastics can be recycled, please contact us & we’ll be happy to help you determine whether you can reduce your landfill costs.

Written by Andrew Wheat

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