Please bear in mind that plastic recycling is a fast moving world with new advances being made all the time. By the time you read this, it may be out of date! Also when oil prices are low plastic is cheap and recycling is hardly profitable.

While most plastics can be recycled, not all of them are. As the British Plastics Federation explains: ” the extent to which they [plastics] are recycled depends upon technical, economic and logistic factors.” Their extremely interesting website goes on to note that “As a valuable and finite resource, the optimum recovery route for most plastic items at the ‘end-of-life’ is to be recycled, preferably back into a product that can then be recycled again and again and so on.”

While considering this, it is worth remembering that the UK uses over 5 million tonnes of plastic each year of which an estimated 24% is currently being recycled.

But just because these products are collected for recycling it does not mean that they will be recycled in the U.K. or even recycled as you might consider it to be.

The term recycling is used to describe a wide range of options including reselling to be recycled. This is a controversial process whereby plastic is collected in one country and sold to others for recycling.

It is also used when plastic is used as fuel in electricity producing incinerators.

You can read more about the different methods of “recycling” here.

Most plastics are marked with a plastic code  or a number identifying the type of plastic. This information is used by recyclers.These types of plastics are currently collected for recycling in the UK but check with your local governments recycling scheme for updated info or the bank locator on

1,2 & 3

1 PET Polyethylene Terepthalate
Fizzy drinks Mineral water bottles Squashes Cooking oils
Recycling points are located throughout the UK

2 HDPE High Density Polyethylene
Milk bottles Juice bottles Washing up liquid Bath & shower bottles
Recycling points are located throughout the UK

3 PVC Polyvinyl Chloride
Usually in bottle form however not that common these days
Some Recycling points in the UK

4,5,6 & 7

4 LDPE Low Density Polyethylene
5 PP Polypropylene
6 PS Polystyrene

Many types of packaging are made from these materials, for example, plastic formed around meats and vegetables. Due to the mixture of compounds these plastic types are hard to recycle and not generally recycled in the UK.

From recycle more

Read up about the different types of plastic here

The best response to plastic trash is to  REFUSE IT and find a compostable alternative.

One thought on “Which plastics are collected for recycling in the UK

  1. I currently visited London,Uk and went to all the main super-markets to check popular items and the recycling codes on the plastic packaging. I was shocked to find that the majority of the plastic film used to wrap the fruit, veggies, candies, sandwiches, take away salads, fresh pasta, meats, cheeses and the list goes on……is not currently recycled in the UK or in the EU…or really in the world. As this plastic film is so ‘useless’ it can not really be recycled in to anything else after its life.
    I documented my findings here :

    Thanks for sharing this post!
    Tina Ziegler

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