Recycling - easier said than done.

Recycling is, let’s be honest, a bit confusing. We get told as human beings we should be recycling everything we possibly can and if you don’t you are quite clearly the devil.

But then why is it made so hard for us to recycle? From poor recycling facilities to confusing labels, there are so many things giving people reasons to just not try in the first place.

There are 39 different sets of rules for recycling across the UK. Need I say more?

Yes I need to say more. In fact I am going to look at plastic. Here is a quick guide on what can and cannot be recycled in the UK. But I have to stress that due to the different rules across the country, it can still vary on what recycling is actually collected from your house.

You may have noticed the different numbers on plastic within the little recycling symbol. Well confusing point number 1 for you – this little recycling symbol does not mean the plastic is recyclable. Instead we need to learn all the different types of plastic and whether it can be recycled.
Here is a guide to each number – maybe you can note it down and put it on your fridge (I have provided a less wordy version below for sharing purposes)

1. PET – Very common, mainly in plastic bottles. Should not be reused but should be recycled.
2. HDPE – Stiff plastic in toys, detergent bottles etc. reusable and recyclable.
3. PVC – Cling film, some children’s toys and cooking oil bottles. Not recyclable, and also dubbed the ‘poison plastic’ because it can leach toxins throughout its lifetime - a delightful substance to use for children’s toys and cling film.
4. LDPE – Plastic bags mainly. Reusable, but not always recyclable - you would be required to check with your local collection service. 
5. PP – Nappies, plastic bottle tops, yoghurt pots and straws. - This is recyclable through some programmes, but very low numbers are currently being recycled. And when one of these is straws (cough, cough) we could argue it doesn’t need to be made in the first place…
6. PS - Polystyrene. Cannot be recycled, chemicals present in this have been linked with human health and reproductive system problems – so essentially AVOID with a barge pole.
7. Other - because this category catches anything we have missed, recycling protocols for this one don’t really exist. New plastics are being made which fall into this category which are compostable – they tend to have the initials PLA on them or may even say ‘compostable’ so watch out for those. The biggest concern with number 7 plastics is chemicals leaching when the plastic is made from BPA. BPA can be found in plastic food containers often marked with PC and number 7. So it is best to avoid these plastics as much as possible, especially when it relates to consumable goods.

If you do want more details still, please find the original article here.

It is worth pointing out this hierarchy. The best way to reduce waste is to not use it in the first place. If we can avoid using plastic wherever possible, then we won't have to worry about recycling it!

And now please find my lovely plastic recycling guide - I hope it enables you to easily figure out what can be recycled and not.


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