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One Day at a Time: Plastics part two

Last week's blog looked at how to reduce and reuse plastic. This week, I look at how you can recycle, or upcycle the plastic that you already have. Be aware that, although many plastics can now be recycled, the process of recycling itself uses up resources, and plastic can only be recycled a limited number of times. Therefore, it’s better to reuse items as much as possible, before recycling or throwing it away.

Recycling Plastics
  • Plastic bottles and containers can usually be recycled in your kerbside bins. Check your local Council website for information on what's accepted. You cannot recycle soft plastics (e.g. plastic bags, food wrappers, food tray lids, etc) from home - see below for more recycling options.

  • Some items you can’t recycle in your kerbside bins, can be taken to local recycling centres – this website is really helpful for this: 'Recycle Now' website: Local recycling

  • Most supermarkets now have a ‘soft plastics’ recycling bin near the tills – this is where you can recycle plastic bags of all kinds, plus things like crisp packets, pet food sachets, etc (photo on right is of the soft plastics bin at my local Sainsbury's).

  • Many normally non-recyclable items (e.g. cheese wrappers/net bags, chocolate wrappers, refill pouches, coffee pods) can be dropped off with Terracycle collectors (people who collect recycling to raise money for charity).

Find out who your local Terracycle collectors are for particular items, and drop the items off (make sure they’re clean and dry). For example, Terracycle has 3 cheese packaging recycling programmes. The Cathedral City and Pilgrim schemes take any brand of flexible cheese packaging, and the Baby-Bel scheme just takes Baby-Bel packaging (net bags, flexible wrappers, labels,. wax, and metal clasps).

My previous blog posts on recycling:

Becoming More Eco-friendly: Recycle

One Day at a Time: What can I recycle? Part one

One Day at a Time: What can I recycle? Part two

One Day at a Time: What can I recycle? Part three

Upcycling Plastics

Upcycling is where you take something that might normally be thrown away, and you make something new with it.

For example, I paint pictures on plastic Pringles lids – which are then used as lids for other containers, or can be hung up around my house as decorations.

I also use pieces of cardboard packaging as my canvas, and glue on scraps of chocolate wrappers, foil, photos, and paper, to make a collage picture. Here's one I did recently:

If you don’t have the time to upcycle items yourself, there are various places you can send plastic items for upcycling:

  • You can send your crisp packets to groups involved in the Crisp Packet Project – they will turn them into sleeping bags, mats, and survival sheets for homeless people.

  • The company Vidiglows upcycles old VHS cassettes into lights.

  • You can take some items to your local community Scrapstore, where people pay a membership fee to take items for reuse and upcycling. Check directly with your local Scrapstore, regarding items you'd like to drop off to them.

My previous blog posts on upcycling:

Becoming More Eco-friendly: Reuse: Part 3

One Day at a Time: Crafting with Non-Recyclables

Practical Solutions for the Kitchen

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