Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Know yer Plastic

Further to my recent posting on plastics recycling, I've realised that I didn't explain the plastics categories that well. Also, plastic recycling facilities differ widely in the UK, indeed in the world. Therefore, I need to make it quite clear the recycling I refer to in this blog is applicable to Wiltshire, England only, unless stated otherwise.

I wrote about plastics categories 1,2 and 3 the last time which are recyclable at all the main household recycling centres in Wiltshire, apart from the mini centres in west Wiltshire and Salisbury. These categories are usually shown on the plastic itself as the appropriate number within a solid or dotted line triangle. The base of the item is usually where this is located, and/or it may be shown on any paper labelling on the packaging instead. Another possibility is the plastic name may be shown - PET (type 1), HDPE (type 2) or PVC (type 3). More information on these labels and the types of plastic may be found here. So if your plastic shows one of these numbers or the equivalent lettering, you can get a glow of satisfaction from recycling it.

Infuriatingly, manufacturers have not really made it easy for even keen recyclers like myself when it comes to recycling. For example, they use mixed plastics for the packaging e.g. the top may be a completely different plastic, often a type that can't be recycled. This includes the ring of plastic left around a bottle from the top when it's first opened - this must be removed from the rest of the packaging. Another common fault is the tiny lettering or numbering used - often almost unreadable to me, never mind an elderly person.

I'm also annoyed that a lot of day to day items come in type 5 packaging (shampoo bottles for example), which doesn't seem to be recyclable anywhere in the UK at the moment. I did ask Yeo Valley earlier this year why they'd chosen this plastic for their packaging, and they replied they'd been assured that facilities were going to be built for this type of plastic when they chose it, but it hasn't appeared yet. Why can't they and all the other companies using this kind of plastic switch to one of the other types that can?


  1. PolythenePam's blog
    Leave Only Footprints
    may be of interest to you.

  2. Thanks Flighty - I've got a feeling I'm going to return to this topic a few times this year!


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