Plastic Recycling – what can be recycled and how?

There are many treasures in our waste: raw materials and other reusables that can be recycled. That’s why we separate and sort our rubbish and so that metal, glass and paper is collected. This creates a cycle that spares our environment. However, separating plastic is much more difficult, which is why our planet is suffering from huge amounts of plastic waste polluting our oceans and other parts of the world.

Recycling, i.e., the recycling of waste, is simple in itself: old glass bottles, for example, are melted down and new bottles are made of them. With glass, this is not a problem. Even with metals such as tin cans, aluminium parts or copper cables, it is relatively easy to recover the recyclable materials from the waste. So is paper.

Unfortunately, with our favourite plastic packaging material, it is much more difficult to return the plastic to a cycle and recycle the material.

Problem Case Plastic Waste

There are a lot of different plastics and not all can be recycled. Whether plastic can be reused can be checked by the recycling sign embossed on the bottom of the packaging, for example: a triangle of arrows with letters in the middle. It might say “PET”. This is the abbreviation for a particular type of plastic.

With so-called “hard plastic” the recycling still works relatively well. It is abbreviated with the letters “HDPE” or “PP” on the recycling sign.

Cleaning buckets, laundry baskets, watering cans or garden chairs are made of this material. The old or broken plastic items are shredded into small pieces and melted to create new plastic items. Also, easy to recycle are the softer plastic types “PET” and “LDPE”.


The Natural Society recommends the following:

  • Avoid recycling symbols 3, 6, and 7. While Number 1 is considered safe, it is also best to avoid this plastic.
  • Look for symbols 2, 4, and 5, as these plastics are considered to be safest. These are the plastics to look for in terms of human and animal consumption.

The best way forward is to reduce plastic waste altogether and choose glass or reusable metal containers.

Plastic must be sorted adequately

Plastic waste is sorted very laboriously on an assembly line by hand in recycling centres.

For good recycling of plastic packaging, it is important to separate the different plastic types adequately. This is especially true when different materials have been closely linked: for beverage cartons, for cardboard cups with a plastic coating and for many other packaging. Here, paper, plastic and metal foils are welded together and it is almost impossible to completely separate them from each other again. All these “composites” must be incinerated to a large extent as waste.

Last Stop: Waste Incineration

Anything that is not properly separated is incinerated in the waste kiln, including the so-called bulky waste: this may include painted wood as well as a broken sofa or old skis, which causes more pollution and toxic fumes. Therefore, separating and recycling recyclable materials is important and the experts at London Rubbish Removal know exactly how to do this with any rubbish they collect, be it household waste, office waste or garden waste.


But it is just as important not to create so much waste in the first place. This includes not simply throwing everything away. Many recycling centres accept well-preserved items so that they can be resold cheaply by the municipality, for example furniture or electrical appliances. At London Rubbish Removal they work closely with the best recycling centres in London to ensure that the man and van rubbish collections in London they make are sorted and recycled as required for optimal waste management.

Besides plastic recycling, they ensure all these other materials they collect are also adequately recycled as they are a licenced waste carrier:

  • Metals: All metals are recycled at the metal recycling plant. It is chipped into small pieces and then melted in a furnace. It can then be turned into new products.
  • Car Batteries: London Rubbish Removal take car batteries to specialist centres where they are shredded and the acid is removed and disposed of in accordance with hazardous waste regulations. The plastic casing and lead of the battery can be recycled by melting it and using it for the manufacturing of new batteries or other plastic products.
  • Concrete & Rubble: Any material suitable for recycling, such as concrete, flagstones and bricks are crushed and the rubble is then used as ‘sub-base’ material and foundation on construction sites.

Recycle your Plastic with Experts

As you can see, recycling plastic and other materials we deal with in our households, offices, gardens etc. is not that straight forward and if it is not done professionally, it can cause even more damage to the environment than good. It is therefore advisable to leave the waste sorting and recycling to professionals, who are trained and certified to do it the right way, like the London Rubbish Removal Team. If you have any questions about recycling and waste collections, get in touch with them today.

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Manuela Willbold
Manuela Willbold
Blogger and Educator by Passion | Online Media & PR strategist for ClickDo Ltd. | Fascinated to Write Blogs in News, Environment & Education I have completed a journalism summer course at the London School of Journalism and manage various blogs for ClickDo Ltd.