Plastic recycling, how does it affect you?

Three days to go until major retailers will stop giving away free plastic bags, and what a good thing too, to make us all pay more attention to plastic recycling.

On Monday 5th October shops in England that have more than 250 employees will be subject to the 5p plastic bag levy.

The move to charge for plastic bags makes England the final UK nation to make paying for plastic bags a legal requirement.

  • Wales was the first country adopt the practice in October 2011 and has seen a 78 per cent drop in the number of carrier bags given out in shops.
  • Northern Ireland followed suit in April 2013 and has seen an 83 per cent decrease over the past two years.
  • Scotland has seen a huge 90 per cent decrease in the use of plastic bags since introducing a levy in October 2014.

Are you supporting the move to charge for plastic bags? A recent poll from Break the Bag Habit shows that 62 per cent of the population agree with the decision.

Why recycle?

Cawleys is hoping that this is only the start of improving plastic recycling in the country. Plastic is a very common material, used in many items including food packaging, water bottles, toys and chemical drums. What most people don’t realise, however is that if it is not recycled correctly, it can caused detrimental damage to our sea life, and plastic bags are especially lethal in this respect.

Over 100 million aquatic wildlife are killed every year by discarded plastic in the ocean. One that is at particular risk is the sea turtle. We are lucky enough in the UK to be visited by five different species of the sea turtle, who feed on jellyfish as their only source of food. Unfortunately a plastic bag floating in the water is easily mistaken for a jellyfish when the turtles are hunting.

sea turtle










As you can see here, floating plastic bags look similar to jelly fish, which means turtles swallow them. The bags then either poison them or line the stomach so that no food ever reaches the turtle and it slowly starves to death.

So just remember that each time you are out doing your shopping, and wish you had a plastic bag, you might be helping to save one of these majestic turtles by recycling!

How is plastic categorised?

To help you recycle plastic more effectively here’s our guide to plastic recycling symbols, images from Good Housekeeping, with thanks:




Symbol: PETE – Polyethylene terephthalate

Products that contain PETE: water bottles, soft and fizzy drink bottles, pots, tubs, oven ready tray and jam jars.

Easy to recycle? Yes, these can be placed into household recycling bins or taken to recycling banks.

Can be recycled into: polar fleece, tote bags, carpet and furniture.







Symbol: HDPE – High density Polyethylene

Products that contain HDPE: milk jugs, bleach and detergent bottles, shampoo and rubbish bags.

Easy to recycle? Yes, these can be placed into household recycling bins.

Can be recycled into: oil bottles, pens, floor tile and drainage pipes.







Symbol: PVC – Polyvinyl chloride

Products that contain PVC: window cleaner, shampoo bottles, clear food packaging and windows.

Easy to recycle? These cannot be placed in household recycling bins but can be recycled through specialist recycling firms.

Can be recycled into: decks, panelling, mud flaps and cables.






Symbol: LDPE – Low density polyethylene

Products that contain LDPE: squeezable bottles, bread and frozen food bags, shopping bags and clothing.

Easy to recycle? They cannot be recycled in all household recycling bins but these products are very easy to reuse and shopping bags can be recycled at some supermarkets.

Can be recycled into: bin liners, envelopes, panelling and floor tile.







Symbol: PP – polypropylene

Products that contain PP: ketchup bottles, straws, yoghurt pots and medicine bottles.

Easy to recycle? Yes they can be placed in household recycling bins.

Can be recycled into: battery cables, brooms, bins and ice scrapers.






Symbol: PS – polystyrene

Products that contain polystyrene: disposable cups, meat trays, take-away containers and CD cases.

Easy to recycle? These cannot be placed in household recycling bins but can be recycled at specialist recycling points.

Can be recycled into: insulation, egg cartons, foam packing and vents.






Symbol: OTHER – miscellaneous

Products included in the category: acrylic glass, gallon water bottles, bullet-proof material, DVDs and nylon.

Easy to recycle? These are the most difficult to recycle due to the variant nature of materials. Some products can be recycled at specialist centres.

Can be recycled into: plastic lumber and bespoke products.






How can we help?

Cawleys prides itself on being at the forefront of the latest developments in the waste management industry. We offer a number of services including office recycling, food waste and hazardous waste collection specifically tailored to the business sector.

If you are looking for a competitive quote for waste management services for your business and want to work with the best, please call us on 0845 260 2000 and a member of staff will be pleased to discuss your options.

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