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Plastic recycling confusion

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DelW

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There's much arcane knowledge around these forums, are there any experts on plastic recycling?

I've always assumed that the three arrows triangle symbol means that a material is recyclable, subject of course to the appropriate processing stream being available.

However I've encountered an oddity today, having emptied a container of Sainsbury's salt. It's a white plastic bottle with a red plastic cap. The label on the back states:
LID - PLASTIC widely recycled
BOTTLE - PLASTIC not currently recycled

So far, so clear, yet - the bottom of the bottle has the three arrows triangle around the numeral 2, with the letters HDPE for high density polyethylene (I think), while the cap has no recycling symbol, just a code "1A".

So according to the label, the part with the recycling symbol isn't recyclable, whereas the part without one is. Can anyone explain, and confirm which bit if either should go in my recycling bin? And as an aside, why do manufacturers still put their products in non recyclable bottles when there are eco-friendly options, is it just a matter of cost?

TIA for any information.
 
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Ediswan

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There's much arcane knowledge around these forums, are there any experts on plastic recycling?

I've always assumed that the three arrows triangle symbol means that a material is recyclable, subject of course to the appropriate processing stream being available.

However I've encountered an oddity today, having emptied a container of Sainsbury's salt. It's a white plastic bottle with a red plastic cap. The label on the back states:
LID - PLASTIC widely recycled
BOTTLE - PLASTIC not currently recycled

So far, so clear, yet - the bottom of the bottle has the three arrows triangle around the numeral 2, with the letters HDPE for high density polyethylene (I think), while the cap has no recycling symbol, just a code "1A".

So according to the label, the part with the recycling symbol isn't recyclable, whereas the part without one is. Can anyone explain, and confirm which bit if either should go in my recycling bin? And as an aside, why do manufacturers still put their products in non recyclable bottles when there are eco-friendly options, is it just a matter of cost?

TIA for any information.
I just looked at the Co-op equivalent (they may well come off the same production line). The label says simply 'Widely recycled'. The bottle is marker 2/HDPE. I have not investigated the lid.
 
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Non Multi

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Only plastics marked 1, 2 or 5 are allowed in my local recycling bin scheme. 4 (plastic bags) go in marked bins at the supermarket.
 

DelW

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It's possible that the old labelling was simply wrong. I've now looked at my replacement bottle, also from Sainsbury's, which looks just the same and has exactly the same moulded in recycling markings. But the printed back label has been slightly amended to just say "widely recycled" like the Co-op one. So I think I'll be OK to recycle the old bottle despite its label.
 

Bobdogs

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Just put them in the recycling bin and let the council sort them out.
Sick of working for the council for nothing.
 

Mcr Warrior

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Just put them in the recycling bin and let the council sort them out.
Which might contaminate everything in the bin! It is, however, rather bizarre that adjoining council areas often seem to have such different recycling schemes.
 

edwin_m

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All our local council provides is a list of plastics including various bottles, yogurt pots and margarine tubs, with all lids to go in the general waste. No mention whatever of the recycling symbols. It's been unchanged for 15 years or so, when the rate was a chart-topping 43% if I remember rightly - and it's still the same today despite many other products claiming to be recyclable. Which strikes me as, pardoning the pun, a bit rubbish.
 

Welly

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I just chuck it in the non-recycling bin if in doubt.

One of my colleagues collects those plastic caps you find on milk bottles for charity through her church - I was told that a minimum of 500kg of these caps need to be collected before the recycling company would even consider offering a price!
 

johncrossley

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My council wants all recycling to be dry, but it takes several days for plastic bottles to dry out. Am I seriously supposed to wait until they are fully dry?
 

Domh245

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My council wants all recycling to be dry, but it takes several days for plastic bottles to dry out. Am I seriously supposed to wait until they are fully dry?

It shouldn't take particularly long for bottles to dry out I'd hope - no longer than any other drying up. My council doesn't have any requirement for recycling to be dry (especially as plastics, glasses and tins are in open top boxes, susceptible to a good dousing on collection day!) but I would think that so long as it's only small amounts of water that's left on it they'll be fine - I suppose they mainly want to avoid people putting in half full cans of drink, or other dirty containers
 

johncrossley

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It shouldn't take particularly long for bottles to dry out I'd hope - no longer than any other drying up. My council doesn't have any requirement for recycling to be dry (especially as plastics, glasses and tins are in open top boxes, susceptible to a good dousing on collection day!) but I would think that so long as it's only small amounts of water that's left on it they'll be fine - I suppose they mainly want to avoid people putting in half full cans of drink, or other dirty containers

My council wants all recycling in the same wheelie bin, including paper, glass, metal and plastic. Metal drinks cans also take a long time to completely dry out. Even after a week of shaking them every day I can still hear a few drops.
 

Gloster

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I rinse everything out, although I wonder if the amount of energy used to purify and heat the water is more than the saving from recycling the bottle, but I notice than many people just dump unwashed stuff in their bins. I often see unwashed bottles, half-eaten takeaways, old plastic bottles that have been reused for something (*), etc. (I don’t go through people’s bins, but tops often blow open or they fall over.) I wonder if everything else gets contaminated by all this sort of stuff.

I am also unsure about bottles that have had greasy items in them, such as cleaning materials or foodstuffs like sauces. I have read somewhere that, even if washed, they continue to retain a residue of the grease and that this can be damaging to lighter grades of plastic.

* - Not, I hope, for what some delivery drivers now use plastic bottles.
 

Royston Vasey

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South Cambridgeshire take practically anything in the recycling bin, including carrier bags, plastic food wrap, books, even print cartridges! Also all kinds of food, raw and cooked, in the green "garden" bin
 

JamesT

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The differences between councils are pretty much a reflection of which company they’ve outsourced the recycling to and whether said company has a suitably whizzy machine that can pick out all the different materials.
 

Mcr Warrior

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The differences between councils are pretty much a reflection of which company they’ve outsourced the recycling to and whether said company has a suitably whizzy machine that can pick out all the different materials.
That makes perfect sense, although I do wonder just what percentage of waste that is put out for recycling ends up as 'general waste' regardless and so ends up as landfill or is incinerated.
 

Bald Rick

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One of my colleagues collects those plastic caps you find on milk bottles for charity through her church - I was told that a minimum of 500kg of these caps need to be collected before the recycling company would even consider offering a price!

I don’t know why people do this - it’s nonsense. The plastic caps on milk botttle are made of the same plastic as the bottles themselves - HDPE. They are just a different colour.


I rinse everything out, although I wonder if the amount of energy used to purify and heat the water is more than the saving from recycling the bottle,

I worked it out once, and it’s definitely ok to wash!
 

Royston Vasey

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The differences between councils are pretty much a reflection of which company they’ve outsourced the recycling to and whether said company has a suitably whizzy machine that can pick out all the different materials.
Yes quite right. Amey in our case at Waterbeach. Their accelerated high temperature composting process for the organic waste is incredibly impressive!
 

ABB125

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That water is in the dishwasher...
What's a dishwasher? :D


(Bonus points for anyone who says "the wife"... Incidentally, until last year, my mum refused to use the dishwasher; now, various work commitments have enforced its daily use, despite there being (most of the year) two fewer children in the house!)
 

Gloster

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What's a dishwasher? :D


(Bonus points for anyone who says "the wife"... Incidentally, until last year, my mum refused to use the dishwasher; now, various work commitments have enforced its daily use, despite there being (most of the year) two fewer children in the house!)
In quite a few homes the master of the house’s answer would be, ”Me”.
 

GusB

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I rinse everything out, although I wonder if the amount of energy used to purify and heat the water is more than the saving from recycling the bottle, but I notice than many people just dump unwashed stuff in their bins. I often see unwashed bottles, half-eaten takeaways, old plastic bottles that have been reused for something (*), etc. (I don’t go through people’s bins, but tops often blow open or they fall over.) I wonder if everything else gets contaminated by all this sort of stuff.

I am also unsure about bottles that have had greasy items in them, such as cleaning materials or foodstuffs like sauces. I have read somewhere that, even if washed, they continue to retain a residue of the grease and that this can be damaging to lighter grades of plastic.

* - Not, I hope, for what some delivery drivers now use plastic bottles.

I honestly don't think they expect everything to be completely spotless when you put recycling out for collection. A lot of this stuff is manually sorted, and I can understand why they want you to at least give plastic bottles a basic rinse before you chuck them in the bin. For stuff like plastic milk bottles, I put them aside and give them a rinse out in soapy water once I've finished washing the dishes. Leave the bottles upside-down on the drying rack and then put them in the bin the next day.

Just put them in the recycling bin and let the council sort them out.
Sick of working for the council for nothing.

Ah, it's nice to see that Victor Meldrew is alive and well :) It's really not hard to do - I have a few sturdy "bag for life" plastic bags hanging in the porch which have either have developed holes over time, or perhaps have one handle broken. Bottles and cans get rinsed with the dishes (as mentioned above) and placed in the appropriate bag. When each bag is full I place it by the door and when I'm heading out for some reason I'll pick it up and empty the contents into the relevant bin. It's just a small change in the way I do things, but it does away with that moment late on a Monday evening when I've settled in for the night and suddenly remember that I haven't put the recycling out.

God forbid that anyone should be asked to make small changes to their lifestyle in order to make the world a nicer place to live :rolleyes:
 

edwin_m

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That water is in the dishwasher...
I find there's normally quite a bit that needs washing up by the traditional method after most meals. But I know some people chuck everything in including things like baking trays.
I honestly don't think they expect everything to be completely spotless when you put recycling out for collection. A lot of this stuff is manually sorted, and I can understand why they want you to at least give plastic bottles a basic rinse before you chuck them in the bin. For stuff like plastic milk bottles, I put them aside and give them a rinse out in soapy water once I've finished washing the dishes. Leave the bottles upside-down on the drying rack and then put them in the bin the next day.
Absolutely. If nothing else they stink the place out if kept in inside the house for any length of time, and a quick wash is less hassle than taking them individually to the bin outside. Drinks cans and cartons have to be positioned carefully to so they dry out (almost) completely, stymied if another family member decides to squash them first.
 

PeterY

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The

What's a dishwasher? :D


(Bonus points for anyone who says "the wife"... Incidentally, until last year, my mum refused to use the dishwasher; now, various work commitments have enforced its daily use, despite there being (most of the year) two fewer children in the house!)
I've a dishwasher............... it's called Peter !! :D
 

edwin_m

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Regarding recycling of plastics, there are some areas that do not accept black plastic meaning that has to go in the general waste instead.
That's why more and more ready meals and similar are now in trays in various shades of beige.
 

Mcr Warrior

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Regarding recycling of plastics, there are some areas that do not accept black plastic meaning that has to go in the general waste instead.
Black plastic apparently causes problems for optical sorting equipment at some recycling centres.
 

Welly

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I just chuck it in the non-recycling bin if in doubt.

One of my colleagues collects those plastic caps you find on milk bottles for charity through her church - I was told that a minimum of 500kg of these caps need to be collected before the recycling company would even consider offering a price!

I don’t know why people do this - it’s nonsense. The plastic caps on milk botttle are made of the same plastic as the bottles themselves - HDPE. They are just a different colour.
When I went back into work this morning after my week off, I found that my colleague has stopped collecting the tops!

Ah well....
 
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