Plastic Recycling

Plastic Recycling

The Facts

  • Nearly 100 million tonnes of plastic materials is used each year throughout the world. We produce and use 20 times as much as we did 50 years ago.
  • There are about 50 different types of plastic and hundreds of varieties within those types.
  • Plastics should be marked to help people identify the six or seven mains types.
  • Currently 80% of post consumer plastic waste goes to landfill.
  • Plastic production uses 8% of the world’s oil production.
  • In the UK we use about 6.7 million tonnes per annum
  • Packaging is the largest single user of plastics accounting for over 30% of the UK consumption and it makes up some 8% of the average household’s waste. Supermarkets give away in the region of 100 million plastic carrier bags each week, hence their current promotion of re-usable bags.
  • The next heaviest user of plastics is the construction industry with just under 30% consumption. Rabbitt Recycling is working with the industry to develop recycling methods to compensate to some degree for this level of usage.
  • One tonne of plastic is the equivalent of 20,000 two litre drinks bottles or 120,000 carrier bags. The lightness of the material is one of the biggest issues in trying to economically recycle it hence the need to bale plastic to make better volume and weight.

Type of plastic – recognition codes

Type of plastic - recognition codes

These are the most common codes that you will encounter (see right).

The following are just examples of how each type may be used:

  1. PET – Polyethylene Terephthalate – Drinks bottles and oven ready meal trays
  2. HDPE – High Density Polyethylene – Bottles for milk and some washing up liquids, also toys, household and kitchen ware.
  3. PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride – Foods trays, cling film, squash, water & shampoo bottles
  4. LDPE – Low Density Polyethylene – Carrier bags and bin liners, squeeze bottles and heavy duty sacks
  5. PP – Polypropylene – Margarine tubs, microwaveable meal trays
  6. PS – Polystyrene – Yoghurt pots, foam trays, hamburger boxes, egg cartons, vending cups, protective packaging

Other types include:

  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) for window frames and drainage pipes,
  • EPP (Expanded Polypropylene) for automotive bumper and door components,
  • HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) for vending cups, toilet seats and bathroom cabinets.

How to recycle your plastic

How to recycle your plastic

Rabbitt Recycling (UK) Limited is able to accept for recycling most types of plastic providing they are of a reasonably pure quality, uncontaminated and have a minimum weight of half a ton. This includes skeletal waste i.e. offcuts and trims. Mixed plastics are acceptable but have far less recyclable value as their re-use is more limited.

LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)
This material is normally used as shrink-wrap or wrapping plastic and is a soft plastic that does not have any crinkle in it. To recycle this plastic it must be baled and it must be at least half a ton in weight to warrant the cost of recycling. If this material is collected in articulated lorry loads (i.e. approx 18-20 tons), it has a significant value per ton. The plastic must be relatively clean, free from contamination, with not too much printing and very few labels. A low level of contamination is generally acceptable with these quantities.

HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)
HDPE is also recyclable and has a value . The same basic requirements apply as for the LDPE above.

PP (Polypropylene)
This is regarded as a hard plastic and is normally of an opaque nature. It is recyclable and in a baled form has a higher value per ton than the soft plastic. It needs to be secured in at least 5 ton lots to make it worthwhile for a re-manufacturer to collect it and it must be clear and clean from most contaminates.

EPS (Expanded Polystyrene)
This is the white “blown up” packing material. It has a much lower value than the plastics and can only be resold if baled and collected in pallets weighting at least half a ton. There must be no contamination in this product but it can be either coloured white. The major problem with this particular material is that, as it weighs very little, it takes an large quantity of uncondensed material to produce a half a ton bale.

PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)
This material is a clear hard plastic that predominantly is used for such things as pub bottles. The value is significant and can be shipped around the country quite comfortably in half ton quantities on pallets or in five-ton loads.

Providing there is a half ton load either in a bag or on a pallet or in a big box, it can be moved economically but for smaller amounts the value reduces dramatically. With hard plastics the cleanliness is not so critical because it goes through a granulation process that removes any “foreign bodies” and a wash process that will remove any labels or light machine oil etc.

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