Problem Plastics – A Guide From East Riding of Yorkshire Council
East Riding of Yorkshire Council have been sending me a series of articles this year to help local families understand their waste and recycling better. So far we’ve covered baby waste, in particularly putting nappies in the right bin (you can read that here), and reusing and recycling clothing and textiles (you can read that here). In this next article we look at plastics, something as a family I feel I generate a lot of; from kid’s outdoor toys to the mountain of drinks bottles we seem to have collected over the years!…..
UK households produce around 1.7 million tonnes of plastic packaging each year. About a third of this is bottles (550,000 tonnes), a quarter is rigid/hard plastics (450,000 tonnes) and the remainder is films and bags (720,000) (reference WRAP, May 2012). However, not all plastics are recyclable through the kerb side blue bin collection scheme. This is because some plastics are very difficult to work with & recycle so therefore need not only a specialist recycler to process them, but this then makes the process very expensive. East Riding of Yorkshire Council are collecting mixed recyclables through the kerb side blue bins and so can only collect those materials that are easy to recycle.
Firstly let’s look at what can be recycled via the blue bin –
Medium density plastics – Plastic items which can be recycled through the blue recycling bin are items such as: milk bottles, yogurt pots, butter/margarine tubs & lids, coleslaw/dip pots, fruit punnets, meat trays, shampoo/conditioner/shower gel bottles, fabric softener/wash liquid bottles, washing up liquid bottles, ready-made/takeaway salad trays, plastic drink bottles etc. Medium plastics are usually recognisable as they have a shape of their own but are flexible/squishy and they are generally ‘bottles, tubs, pots & trays’. Residents are asked to make sure they are empty, clean and rinsed out any liquid or food left inside.
However there are some plastics that cannot go in the blue bin (and doing so can reduce the efficiency of the recycling process for the above recyclables) –
Soft plastics cannot be placed in to the blue bin. These include items such as wet wipe packets, multipack nappy wrap/outside wrapper, nappies, multipack toilet roll outer wrapper, multipack food/drink tin outer wrapper, cellophane, bread/food bags, pre-prepared salad bags, cling film, bubble wrap, biscuit wrappers, crisp packets, plastic around blocks of cheese, microwave rice pouches, cat/dog food pouches, Capri Sun type drinks etc etc. They are so soft/poor quality that they require a specialist/expensive recycling process to recycle them, hence they can’t be placed into the kerb side blue recycling bin. These should be placed into the green general waste bin (East Riding of Yorkshire Council residents).
Some places do take these soft plastics though; Morrison’s supermarkets have a soft plastic collection stations in their stores, so these items can be recycled through those bins instead.
Hard plastics are very brittle and don’t withstand the normal recycling process well, therefore need recycling by a specialist contractor and therefore why they cannot be placed into the blue mixed recycling bin at home. The 10 x Household Waste Recycling Sites (HWRS) across the East Riding (the ‘tip’) have a hard plastic collection point for such items, which do go to a specialist contractor for recycling where possible. Hard plastics items to take to the HWRS are: –
children’s hard plastic toys including garden toys (like sit on plastic cars)
PVC guttering & down pipes etc
plastic garden furniture
plastic watering cans
East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s 10 x Household Waste Recycling sites are open seven days a week 10am until 5pm (Christmas times vary), for more info please visit www.eastriding.gov.uk/bins. If residents can’t get to the tip, these smaller, problem hard plastics can be placed into the green bin instead (like dummies, baby bottles, sippee cups and plastic toddler tableware e.g bowls, plates).
Tubes are not recyclable in East Riding of Yorkshire Council i.e. toothpaste tubes, sun cream tubes, hand cream tubes etc (this is specific to our processing contractor) and should be placed into the green general waste bin (East Riding of Yorkshire Council residents). Also toothbrushes are not recyclable through the blue bin.
Terracycle is a specialist recycling company currently working with manufacturers, to look at local volunteer schemes to collect difficult to recycle items. These include, soft plastics like crisps packets/biscuit wrappers/large pet food bags and harder plastics such as toothbrushes & toothpaste, pens/biros etc. This involves people signing up as local collection points. A map of where collection points already exist can be found here – https://www.terracycle.com/en-GB/collection-programs
For more information on all household waste please visit the East Riding of Yorkshire council website here.