Plastic Recycling, the details

This week on the blog we thought we’d take a look at recycling, not just in general but specifically plastics.

Most of us these days try to avoid purchasing anything in plastic if we can, but it’s not always possible. If you’re out somewhere and need water it’s not always that easy to find it in a glass bottle. Lots of sauces no longer come in glass bottles, and even the ubiquitous pinta on your doorstep is no longer delivered in the iconic glass bottle.

Meat and fish from the supermarket come in plastic-based trays and are covered by plastic wrap. Even some fruit and vegetables come pre-wrapped, and although it’s sometimes possible to avoid them by buying lose, that’s not always an option.

If we can’t avoid plastic altogether, then which are the least harmful types to buy?

Without getting too technical, here are some of the plastics that can easily be recycled:

  1. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) – water bottles and plastic trays.
  2. High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) – milk cartoons and shampoo bottles.
  3. Polypropylene (PP) – margarine tubs and ready-meal trays.

There are a few others, but they require very specialist facilities, and of course, there are some plastics that can’t be recycled at all. Some of the most common are foil-lined crisp packets, cling film, and any type of blister packaging.

You might also be surprised to learn that biodegradable plastic is not recyclable. Wait, isn’t anything biodegradable a good thing? Well, no, actually. It does biodegrade eventually, but it still breaks down into microplastics ( small pieces of plastic less than 5mm in length) which can be harmful to the environment and animal health as they can accumulate in water, soil, and the food chain.  They can also take as long as 1000 years to break down.

We hope you’ve found this interesting, and I’m sure like the Freshbinz team you try to minimise your use of plastics, but like us have found that it’s just not always possible.

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