The Basics of Recycling: Your Essential Guide and Tips to Plastic Recycling

Whenever you go to the supermarket to do your weekly shopping, there is a good chance many of the items you purchase will include packaging made from some form of plastic. Most of these plastic carrier bags are thrown away and end up in landfill sites, even though they could be used over and over again.  The problem with plastic carrier bags ending up in landfill sites is that they are usually made from polyethylene, a type of plastic which is non-degradable. The plastic bags you dispose of could, therefore, take tens, if not hundreds of years to break down. With this non-biodegradable stuff causing havoc in the ecosystem’s balance, there have been countless efforts to stop plastic pollution. For example, there are commercial rubbish bins with recycling images and labels to determine which ones can still be recycled. People also hold eco outdoor sale events all to celebrate the importance of recycling. If you are interested in the green movement, here are some essential guidelines you can learn to help you get started:


The different plastic recycling images and symbols:


There are a number of different types of plastic that are used.  To help identify the different types of plastic, therefore making it easier to recycling, many plastic items will contain a plastic recycling EcoBin symbol.  The different plastic recycling symbols are as follows:


recycling images


  • Plastic Recycling Symbol PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) – This type of plastic is often used to make drinks bottles and the trays you get oven-ready meals in.
  • Plastic Recycling Symbol HDPE (High-density Polyethylene) – HDPE is used to make the plastic milk containers you find in supermarkets and the bottles for cleaning products such as the washing up liquid.
  • Plastic Recycling Symbol PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) – PVC is used to make cling film, food trays, and shampoo bottles.


  • Plastic Recycling Symbol LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene) – This type of plastic is used to make bin liners and carrier bags.


Plastic Recycling Symbol PP (Polypropylene) – Items such as margarine tubs and the trays that microwaveable meals come in are often made from polypropylene.


  • Plastic Recycling Symbol PS (Polystyrene) – Polystyrene is commonly used as a packaging material for electrical items, such as TVs and DVD Players.  It is also used to make yogurt pots, vending cups, and boxes for takeaway burgers.
  • Plastic Recycling Symbol OTHER – Any plastics that do not fall into one of the categories listed above will contain this plastic recycling symbol.


Tips to Reuse and Recycle Plastic Bags


Although it is not always possible to avoid using plastic carrier bags completely, there are many ways to either reuse or recycle them. Here are some tips you can try to reuse and recycle your plastic carrier bags:


–        Keep a supply of carrier bags in the boot of your car to reuse each time you go to the supermarket.

–        Use the plastic carrier bags as bin liners.

–        Use them to pick up dog mess from your garden or when you take your dog for a walk.

–        Use old carrier bags to double bag food waste before disposing of it in your wheelie bin – this will help to reduce smells that can attract flies and vermin.

–        Place old carrier bags at the bottom of hanging baskets and plant pots as this act as a good drainage system.

–        Use recycling images and labels on your neighborhood’s large rubbish bins.

–        When going on holiday, use some plastic bags to keep dirty or wet clothes and shoes away from clean clothing.

–        Keep a few plastic carrier bags in your garage or under your sink to use when cleaning out your car.

–        When moving house or transporting items use scrunched up plastic carrier bags to surround items as an alternative to bubble wrap.


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