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It seems these days that we’re bombarded with information telling us that in order to do our bit for the environment, we need to recycle as much as we can. We’re given different coloured bags and bins and hope that we get it right.

To help you better understand the symbols and plastics that you can and can’t recycle, here’s a simple guideline of what to look out for:

You will see one of the following symbols on your plastic products, indicating what kind of plastic it is. Your local collection service will be able to give you information of which kinds of plastics are recyclable in your area

1. PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

PET plastic is the most widely recycled. It is also one of the most common plastics you’ll encounter. Generally, you’ll see this symbol on:

  • Plastic bottles
  • Mouthwash bottles
  • Yoghurt pots

This kind of plastic gets recycled into polyester fabric and even filling for cushions and carpet

2. HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)

This is another commonly recycled plastic, but it’s best to check if it is recycled in your area. This kind of plastic is used for:

  • Toys
  • Kitchenware
  • Milk Jugs
  • Plastic bottle caps
  • Margarine tubs
  • Shampoo bottles

HDPE can be recycled into pens and detergent bottles.

3. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

This symbol could look like this, or it may have a ‘V’ at the bottom rather than ‘PVC’. Generally, PVC is not recyclable. So you shouldn’t be putting it in your recycle bins unless your local collectors state that they collect it for recycling. This kind of plastic is found in:

  • Cling Film
  • Plastic piping
  • Flooring
  • Footwear
  • Outdoor plastic furniture

4. LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)

Low Density Polyethylene can be recycled but is not always recycled in every area. So make sure to check with your local collection service. This plastic is found in:

  • Bread bags
  • Frozen food bags
  • Squeezable bottles
  • Carrier bags

This plastic is recycled into bin liners.

5. PP (Polypropylene)

As with LDPE, Polypropylene can be recycled but you’ll need to check with your collection service if it’s recycled in your area. PP is used for products that are blow-moulded, which is the process used for making hollow plastics.

You will find PP in:

  • Plastic straws
  • Takeaway tubs
  • Ketchup bottles
  • Packing tape

This plastic can be recycled into sweeping brushes, garden rakes and plastic trays

6. PS (Polystyrene)

Polystyrene isn’t just that white fluffy filler you find in your packaging boxes, it’s used for lots of other things too, such as:

  • CD cases
  • Plastic forks
  • Some yogurt pots

Polystyrene cannot be recycled under normal conditions, so it is unlikely that your local collectors will accept this.

7. Other

This symbol is shown for any other kind of plastic that isn’t categorised by the other groups. It is not recyclable and usually covers things like crisp wrappers.


So, there you have it. If you’re ever stuck on which of your waste products you can put in the recycle bag, take a look at the symbol on there and refer back to this blog to quickly work out what’s what!

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