Trying to work out which plastics you can and can’t recycle can be confusing, but the good news is that you CAN recycle most bread bags and in fact most stretchy plastics! This also includes fresh fruit and veg bags, frozen veg bags, wrappers for nappies and toilet rolls, some postal packaging all also bubble wrap.
This particular plastic is called polythene or plastic film or Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) if you want to get technical.
Below is a list of items that you can recycle but be sure not to include any items that cannot, as sorting plastic film is almost impossible and will lead to spoiled batches, and these batches are big!
Please note that some manufacturers and retailers are switching to plastic which they claim is compostable or biodegradable, but this is not recyclable, and SHOULD NOT be included as it will contaminate the waste stream.
All items should be cleaned before they are recycled and where possible it is best to tear of sticky labels.
Plastic Film You Can Recycle
- Bread bags
- Cereal packet bags
- Toilet roll, nappy pack and kitchen roll outer wrappers
- Shrink wrap and plastic rings from cans and bottles
- Frozen food bags
- Polythene that covers things like dry cleaning
- Magazine and newspaper wrappers
- Bags for fruit and veg
- Bubble wrap
- Any plastic marked with the code Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) – resin ID code 4
IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT NOT TO INCLUDE ANY ‘BIODEGRADABLE OR COMPOSTABLE’ PLASTIC AS THIS WILL CONTAMINATE THE WASTE STREAM.
Other items that SHOULD NOT be included are cling film, any other non-stretchy packaging, ie. food, and drink pouches, crisp packets, biscuit wrappers, etc, any other film that is not polythene!
Check the Packaging
If you look closely you will see that a lot of packaging of this kind now features the ‘recyclable’ symbol. Hovis now have it clearly marked on their bags, and many online retailers s are particularly keen to demonstrate that their packaging is now recyclable!
If in doubt, look for the plastic symbol on the item which should help you identify what sort of plastic you have. Most plastic should have some sort of code or symbol on it and will help you identify what it is and what you can do with it. Here is a link to all of the different codes and types of plastic.
Where Can I Recycle It?
Sadly we are currently unable to recycle our polythene wrap via our kerbside collections, but you can usually take it along to your local supermarket carrier bag recycling point.
Online supermarkets usually allow you to hand your bags back to the driver, so you can include your film recycling in there.
For your nearest location you can put your postcode into this search on the Recycle Now website.
Hovis & Terracyle
Terracycle have also just launched a bread bag recycling scheme in partnership with Hovis, so you can either check their website for your nearest collection point, or register as a private collector yourself. You can find further information at the following! This is for LDPE 4 bread bags only although you can recycle any brand of bread bags.
If you would rather not recycle your plastic film at the supermarkets, you do have another option which is to send it off to a specialist facility but this will obviously cost you postage. Polyprint are a packaging company and recycle the polythene into other products. They do recycle a few more items including cling film and take items in bulk. The address to send your items to is:
Earl Road, Rackheath Industrial Estate, Rackheath, Norwich, NR13 6NT
Please ensure you put the correct postage on any parcels you send to them. The best way of forwarding this material to them is by 2nd class or parcel post. NB: Parcels without the correct postage will be sent to landfill. Please include your contact details and clearly mark the outside of the package: FOR RECYCLING.
Don’t Forget to Reuse or Reduce
Of course, it is always better to avoid using the plastic in the first place, so where possible, use reusable shopping bags, shop plastic free and avoid plastic as much as you can. Plastic film is not something that is of great value in the recycling industry and is not a long term or sustainable solution. Bread and cereal bags make great freezer bags too, so have a think about the options for reuse as well. I have a permanent collection in my drawer that I use whenever I need a bag!
If you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to get into contact with us at firstname.lastname@example.org