Now that we’ve all woken up to the plastic problem, here are some tips on what to do with the plastic that you can’t avoid. Recycling is easy to say [although never easy to type – Ed] but what and where you can actually recycle is a bit of a minefield.
Plastic bottles (washed, squashed and with their lids removed) are the only plastics that Brighton & Hove local authority currently recycle. Plastic bottles are mainly made from PET plastic (soft drinks and water bottles) and HDPE (milk and detergent bottles). There are already markets for plastic bottles as these can be recycled back into bottles or even fleeces.
Reasons why other plastics are not currently being recycled include: lack of markets for all plastics, so authorities cannot sell them on; even though some items such as food trays might be made from PET, they have different properties than the PET used to make bottles, so the material cannot be processed.
Thirty different materials from black boxes, communal bins, and recycling points all end up at the B&H Material Recovery Facility at Hollingdean, including cans, tins, aerosols, cardboard, paper and plastic bottles. Glass and batteries need to be kept separate as they are dealt with differently. Nearly 95% of the recovered material is processed in the UK, with the majority of this happening in Sussex. Around 90% of what is collected gets recycled. The rest can’t be recycled and gets removed.
The symbol above was developed by the British Retail Consortium to help consumers understand which materials can and cannot be recycled.
Widely recycled: 65% or more of local authorities recycle that type.
Check local recycling: 15% to 65% of local authorities recycle that packaging type.
Not currently recycled: Less than 15% of local authorities recycle that packaging type.
For those items not recycled by the Council, there are some alternatives. Carrier bag bins, found at most supermarkets, are able to accept more plastic items such as:
- Plastic carrier bags
- Plastic bread bags (shake out)
- Plastic cereal bags (like porridge oats bags, not inners from boxes of cereals although some are recyclable, check the label)
- Plastic wrappers and ring joiners from multipacks of cans
- Toilet roll and kitchen roll plastic wrappers
- Plastic freezer bags
- Plastic magazine and newspaper wrappers (from your letterbox post)
- Fruit and veg supermarket bags
For other items, the Green Centre at the Open Market in London Road on Thursdays, accepts lots of other materials including: aluminium foil (clean only); air & home care trigger heads, pumps, & caps (kitchen & bathroom cleaner sprays); plastic air fresheners; air freshener cartridges & packaging (minus the cardboard); corks (not plastic); elastic bands; Kenco coffee jar lids and refill packs; milk bottle tops; broken and working pens and pencils; empty highlighters; printer cartridges; Tassimo pods and packaging.
There is a fantastic A-Z listing of where many other items can be recycled on the Green Centre website.
If you have any plastic/recycling hints, tips, news or initiatives that you would like to share with our readers please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org