What happens to my plastic?

What plastic can I recycle at home?

Bottles…bottles and even more bottles! They all go in your mixed recycling bin. These include: drinks bottles, shampoo and shower gel bottles, trigger spray bottles, cleaning product bottles and milk bottles.

Why can’t I recycle other plastics like pots, tubs and trays in my recycling bin at home?

Unlike plastic bottles which are mainly made of two types of plastic (HDPE and PET) plastic pots, tubs, trays, bags and film are made of a range of different types of plastic.

All plastics in theory can be recycled but it is not always technically or economically viable. In Greater Manchester, we only collect plastic bottles because there is a sustainable market for them and we can guarantee they will be recycled.

What happens to the plastic I put in my general waste bin?

Most of your general waste is delivered to a Mechanical Treatment and Reception facility in Greater Manchester for shredding and compacted into containers.  These are delivered by rail to the Energy Recovery Facility in Runcorn to be made into electricity. Some of the general waste is delivered to our Thermal Recovery Facility in Bolton.

Other council areas in the UK collect plastic pots, tubs and trays, so why can’t Greater Manchester?

There are no sustainable end markets for pots, tubs and trays as these tend to be hard to recycle and made out of a lower quality plastic. Other council areas across the UK may collect plastic pots, tubs and trays, however not all of it gets recycled, some are used to make electricity or some may end up in landfill.

Is there anywhere in Greater Manchester, I can recycle other plastic packaging?

Terracycle offer free recycling programmes funded by brands, manufacturers, and retailers to help you collect and recycle your hard-to-recycle plastic. This includes things like, crisp packets, food pouches and plastic tubes.

Some supermarkets also have plastic carrier bag recycling points which also accept things like, bread bags, bubble wrap and frozen food bags.

What can I do to use less plastic?

The easiest way to use less plastic is to buy things that have no packaging or has as little packaging as possible. This includes things like using a reusable bag, buying loose fruit and vegetables or using a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water.  There are plenty places that will refill your water bottle for free.  For more tips. visit the how do I waste less page.

What happens to my plastic bottles?

Plastic bottles that you put in your mixed recycling bin along with your aerosols, foil, foil trays, drink cans, food tins, glass bottles and jars are delivered to our Materials Recovery Facility in Sharston. Here, your plastic bottles are sorted then baled. These go to a re-processor for further sorting and then are shredded and cleaned, ready to be remanufactured into new products.

Want to see your recycling in action? Come along to a free open day.

Do the plastic bottles I recycle end up in other countries?

From October to December 2019, 62% of the plastic bottles you recycled were sold to re-processors in the UK and 38% in the EU.  This is subject to change, as it is dependent on market prices and the quality of the recycling.

If a plastic pot is labelled as PET, same as a plastic bottle, why can’t I recycle it in my mixed recycling bin?

Some pots tubs and trays are made of the same type of plastic as bottles but not the same quality. Remanufacturers only want high quality plastic.

Why do I need to take the lids off my plastic bottles before I recycle them?

Some lids are made of a different type of plastic to the bottle itself. At our Materials Recovery Facility, loose bottle tops end up with the glass bottle and jars which affects the quality of the glass recycling.

Why can’t we replace plastic with other materials such as glass or paper?

Replacing plastic with other materials such as glass or paper doesn’t necessarily mean it’s  more environmentally-friendly. There’s no simple answer when it comes to understanding which material has the least environmental impact. For more information visit www.clearonplastic.com

What about biodegradable and compostable packaging?

Biodegradable and compostable packaging can’t go in any of your recycling bins at home. Read our blog post to find out why.