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Just how recyclable is the plastic we use in Hertfordshire

We all know that plastic is recyclable, so as long as we put it in the correct bin it will be made into something else useful. Sadly this is a myth that all too many people believe, the painful truth is quite the opposite. We have all seen the triangular set of chasing arrows logo on plastic products and seem to automatically assume that it denotes that the product is recyclable.

Within each chasing arrows triangle, there is a number which ranges from one to seven. The purpose of the number is to identify the type of plastic used for the product in question, and as stated above, not all plastics are recyclable or even reusable. There are many plastic based products that cannot break down and cannot be recycled.

Understanding the seven plastic codes will make it easier to choose plastics and to know which plastics to recycle. For example, water bottles that display a three or a five cannot be recycled in many areas around the globe. A three indicates that the water bottle has been made from polyvinyl chloride, a five means that it has been made of polypropylene, two materials that are not accepted by most recycling centers.

Below are the seven standard classifications for plastics, and the recycling and reuse information for each of them.

PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) Number 1

Polyethylene Terephthalate is probably one of the most commonly used plastics in consumer products, and is found in most water and soft drink bottles, and some packaging. It is intended for single use; repeated use increases the risk of leaching and bacterial growth. Polyethylene Terephthalate plastic is tricky to decontaminate, and proper cleaning requires harmful chemicals. Polyethylene terephthalates may leach carcinogens. This is why there has been a campaign to stop people keeping these bottles of water in peoples cars. Apparently, cervical cancer is the main fear.

Polyethylene Terephthalate plastic is recyclable and about 25% of PET bottles in the United States are recycled. The plastic is crushed and then shredded into flakes which are then reprocessed to make new PET bottles, or spun into polyester fibre. This recycled fibre is used to make textiles, carpets and filling material for pillows.

Products made of Polyethylene Terephthalate plastic should be recycled but not reused.

HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) Number 2

High-Density Polyethylene plastic is the stiff plastic used to make plastic kitchen jugs, washing up liquid bottles, toys, and some plastic bags. High-Density Polyethylene is the most commonly recycled plastic and is considered one of the safest forms of plastic. It is a relatively simple and cost effective process to recycle High-Density Polyethylene plastic for further use.

High-Density Polyethylene plastic is very hard wearing and does not break down under exposure to sunlight or extremes of heating or freezing. This is why High-Density Polyethylene is used to make plastic patio furniture, waste bins, park benches and other products which require durability and good weather resistance.

Products made of High-Density Polyethylene are reusable and recyclable.

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) Number 3

Polyvinyl Chloride is a soft, flexible plastic that is used to make clear plastic food wrapping and cooking oil bottles. It is commonly used as the sheathing material for computer cables, and to make plastic pipes and parts for push fit plumbing. Because PVC is relatively impervious to sunlight and weather, it is used to make window frames and garden hoses.

Polyvinyl Chloride is known as the poison plastic because it contains numerous toxins which it can leach throughout its entire life cycle. Almost all products using Polyvinyl Chloride require new material for their construction; less than 1% of Polyvinyl Chloride material is recycled.

Products made using Polyvinyl Chloride plastic are not recyclable. While some Polyvinyl Chloride products can be repurposed, Polyvinyl Chloride products should not be reused for use with food or for use by children.

LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene) Number 4

Low-Density Polyethylene is often found in cling film, dry cleaner garment bags, squeezy bottles, and the type of plastic bags used to wrap bread. The plastic shopping bags used in most shops are made using Low-Density Polyethylene plastic. Some clothing and furniture also uses this type of plastic.

Low-Density Polyethylene is considered less toxic than other plastics, and relatively safe for use. It is not often recycled, however, this is changing in some areas today as more plastic recycling systems are being set up to handle this material. When recycled, Low-Density Polyethylene plastic is used for things like rubbish bin liners and floor tiles. Products made using recycled Low-Density Polyethylene are not as hard or rigid as those made using recycled High-Density Polyethylene plastic.

Products made using Low-Density Polyethylene plastic are reusable, but not always recyclable. You need to check with your local recycling centre to see if they are accepting Low-Density Polyethylene plastic items for recycling.

PP (Polypropylene) Number 5

Polypropylene plastic is very tough and relatively lightweight, and has good heat resistance. It works well as a barrier against moisture, grease and many chemicals. Polypropylene bags are use in breakfast cereals to keep your cereal dry and fresh. Polypropylene is also commonly used for disposable babies nappies, plastic bottle tops, margarine and yoghurt containers and drinking straws.

Polypropylene is recyclable through some recycling programs, but only a small percentage of Polypropylene products are currently being recycled.

Polypropylene is considered safe for reuse.

PS (Polystyrene) Number 6

Polystyrene is a cheap, lightweight and easily formed plastic with a good number of uses. It is most often used to make disposable drinking cups, take away food containers, plastic cutlery, foam packaging to protect expensive items during transit. This packing can be loose or moulded to the product shape. Polystyrene is also widely used to make rigid foam insulation and underlay sheeting for laminate flooring.

Because polystyrene is structurally weak and very lightweight, it breaks up easily and is dispersed readily throughout the natural environment. This is the waste plastic you are most likely to see washed up on the beach. Many marine species have ingested this plastic with dire consequences to their health.

Polystyrene may leach styrene, a suspected human carcinogen, into food products. Chemicals present in polystyrene have been linked with human health problems.

Recycling is not widely available for polystyrene products. Most recycling centres will not accept polystyrene, which is why this material accounts for a massive amount of landfill material. While the technology for recycling polystyrene is available, the market for recycling is insignificant. Awareness among consumers has grown, however, and polystyrene is being reused more often.

Polystyrene really should be avoided where possible.

Other (BPA, Polycarbonate and LEXAN) Number 7

The last category of plastic was designed as an umbrella term for polycarbonate (PC) and all other plastic types, so reuse and recycling information are not readily available within this category. Of primary concern with these plastics is the potential for chemical leaching into food or drink products packaged in polycarbonate containers made using BPA (Bisphenol A). BPA is a xenoestrogen, a known endocrine disruptor.

These plastics are used to make baby bottles, cups, water cooler bottles and car parts. BPA is found in polycarbonate plastic food containers. Some polycarbonate water bottles are marketed as non-leaching for minimizing plastic taste or smell, however there is still a possibility that trace amounts of BPA will migrate from these containers, particularly if used to heat liquids.

A new generation of compostable plastics, made from bio based polymers like corn starch, is being developed to replace polycarbonates. These are also included in this category, which can be confusing to the consumer. These compostable plastics have the initials PLA on the bottom near the recycling symbol. Some may also actually state that they are compostable.

These plastics are not for reuse, unless they have the PLA compostable coding. When possible it is best to avoid these plastics, especially for childrens food. Plastics with the recycling labels of numbers 1, 2 and 4 on the bottom are safer choices and do not contain BPA. PLA coded plastics should be thrown in the compost and not the recycle bin since PLA compostable plastics are not recyclable.


Other Articles on Waste Management and Recycling in Hertfordshire

A guide to what can and cannot go into a hired skip

At Stevenage Skip Hire we are frequently asked what waste materials can be placed into the hired skips we supply. So we thought it would be a good idea to offer a quick guide as to what is and is not acceptable.

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Recycling your waste materials in Stevenage

Recycling is something most of us do now to some degree. Some do it more than others, but we mostly appreciate that it is an important part of our daily lives. It is more important to recycle waste in order to conserve resources and maintain a healthy environment than ever before. The question is, are we really doing everything possible when it comes to recycling our waste materials? The achances are that many of us are probably not doing all we can. So here are a few tips to help you recycle properly.

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The problem with plastic pollution in Hertfordshire

Plastic pollution is now one of the biggest environmental concerns we have to face. You may feel that large amounts of plastic waste are unavoidable in the world we live in, but you and your family can help with the plastic pollution issue by being aware of its dangers and taking the necessary steps to reduce your plastic waste.

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Waste reduction in Hertfordshire

The country is now committed to reducing the amount of waste and the government have set targets for waste reduction. A new plan for cutting waste was published back in 2007 that aimed for at least 40 per cent of household waste to be recycled or composted by 2010, this rose to 50 per cent by 2020.

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Plastic waste from the United Kingdom may be sent overseas instead of recycled

Massive amounts of packaging waste is being sent overseas to be recycled and turned into new products. However, concerns have been raised that in reality a good deal of it is being dumped in landfill sites in countries that we have no agreement with.

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What happens to all the plastic we throw out

Just where would we be without plastic? The production of plastic has exploded over the last fifty or so years, growing from 16.5 million tons in 1964 to 343 million tons in 2014; it is expected to double by 2036. The question is, where does all of this plastic go when people in Hertfordshire throw it away?

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Fly tipping: A modern day curse

Fly tipping is simply another term used to describe illegal dumping of all manner of waste material, it is also called fly dumping. Whatever term is used, it is the dumping of waste illegally instead of using an authorised method such as kerbside collection or using an authorised rubbish dump. It is the illegal deposit of any waste onto land, including waste dumped or tipped on a site with no licence to accept waste.

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Recycled plastic for roads and pavements

Plastic use in road and pavement construction is not exactly a new concept, but it does appear to be increasing. Using plastic waste to make plastic roads is definitely on the upward trend. Plastic roads mainly use plastic carrier bags, disposable cups and PET bottles that are collected from landfill sites prior to burial and are a vital part of this construction material.

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Seaweed sachets offer an alternative to plastic

Indonesia has a wealth of naturally growing seaweed that can make an edible, water permeable film that can be used in sachets that hold tea, coffee, and hot cocoa as well as a whole host of other useful daily consumable products.

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The increasing problem of plastics in our oceans

The amount of plastic in the oceans of the world is predicted to treble in the next ten years unless affirmative action is taken to deal with the problem, according to a new report just published.

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Plastic pollution in the ocean starts from the rivers

A scary statistic is that more than eight million tons of waste plastic ends up in the ocean every single year. If we continue to pollute our oceans at this rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 and it can take many years to break down if at all, not to mention the toxins it leaches in the process.

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Ways to reduce your plastic waste

Plastic is a great product in so many ways, but the environmental impact it can have is enormous, particularly when it comes to the single use plastic products we seem to uses on a daily basis in our throw away society. Can we as private individuals do to cut down our personal plastic usage?

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Plastic microbeads are a load of rubbish

Would you like to fill your mouth with plastic, or cover other parts of your anatomy with it on a regular basis? The answer would most likely be a resounding no, but we are already doing just that.

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Waste plastic from the UK is polluting the globe

Literally thousands of tons of plastic scrap collected for recycling from British households have been transported and dumped on sites across the world. This shocking revelation was revealed from a recent freedom of information request.

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Hiring a skip from Stevenage Skip Hire rather than using the local dump

Have you got a load of rubbish to dump? Is it better to hire a skip or use the local dump? Do you need a permit for having a skip? Can anyone apply for a permit? Here are a few answers which could help you when hiring a skip from Stevenage Skip Hire

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Hire a skip from Stevenage Skip Hire for your garden waste

No matter what the season, a medium sized Hertfordshire garden can generate a massive amount of waste materials. The winter will leave a lot of dead leaves and twiggs from nearby trees to clear up, and when the warmer months hit, the waste is generated on a weekly basis as things grow rapidly.

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Get a skip and avoid fly tipping in Hertfordshire

Not only does fly tipping blight the Hertfordshire countryside around us, it can have a devastating effect on the wildlife that we co-exist with. Then of course there is the eye watering cost of clearing up the mess that inconsiderate people have created. We all pay the price for this ecologically unsound practice through increased council tax bills from our councils. This could all be avoided if everyone disposed of their waste in the correct manner and hiring a skip is probably the best way to go about this, particularly if you have a large amount of waste to dispose of.

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Some facts about waste and recycling from Stevenage Skip Hire

The United Kingdom produces over 100 million tonnes of waste every single year. If you consider that one tonne is about the weight of a small car, it is easy to see how it mounts up. In less than two hours, the waste we produce would fill the Albert Hall.

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Hire a skip instead of going to your local Hertfordshire tip

Using a local Hertfordshire tip is not the same as it was a few years ago. These days everything has to go in the correct hopper, it cannot all go in the same one any longer. This means you have to know what goes where in order to segregate all the rubbish at home.

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Hire a skip from Stevenage Skip Hire for your soil and mud

A Hertfordshire client recently hired one of our skips as they just could not believe how much earth they had to get rid of when they dug out a pond in their back garden. Our client had intended to build up their flower beds and other low spots of their garden with the excavated earth. They never thought they would need to get rid of any earth at all.

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Useful information about skip hire in Hertfordshire

The one question we get asked the most at Stevenage Skip Hire is what size skip the customer will need. We always suggest that you think about what you need to dispose of and remember that two skips can be far more expensive than one larger skip. Skips are measured by the yard and range from 3 yard mini skips to roll-on roll-off containers more suitable for higher volume waste requirements.

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Hire a skip from Stevenage Skip Hire to save you time effort and money

Hiring a skip from Stevenage Skip Hire is without a doubt the best way to get rid of all your waste materials! It is convenient, quick, easy and saves you a huge amount of work. Generally speaking, we only get a couple of days a week away from work, and when you end up ferrying your household waste back and forth from the local tip, your weekend soon gets swallowed up.

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The benefits of skip hire from Stevenage Skip Hire in Hertfordshire

Having a good clear out of the garden shed or garage produces way more rubbish than you ever imagined possible. Decorating preparation can also produce a good deal of waste, such as old skirting boards and stripped wood chip paper that his been up since the war, so a skip is a great way to dispose of the waste.

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Further Information

If you would like to know more or are interested in a quote we would be happy to help. Phone us on 0800 169 8588, email us at stevenageskiphire@live.co.uk or fill in our enquiry form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.

Stevenage Skip Hire Ltd - Envirowaste Recycling Centre - Jacks Hill - Graveley - Herts SG4 7EQ

Stevenage Skip Hire Ltd
Envirowaste Recycling Centre
Jacks Hill
Graveley
Herts SG4 7EQ

Articles
A guide to what can and cannot go into a Stevenage Skip Hire hired skip
Recycling your waste materials in Stevenage
Plastic waste from Hertfordshire may be sent overseas instead of recycled
Just how recyclable is the plastic we use in Hertfordshire
What happens to all the plastic we throw out in Hertfordshire
Fly tipping: A modern day curse in Hertfordshire
Fly tipping: A modern day curse in Hertfordshire
Recycled plastic for roads and pavements in Hertfordshire
Seaweed sachets offer an alternative to plastic in Hertfordshire
The increasing problem of plastics in our oceans
Plastic pollution in the ocean starts from the rivers
Waste reduction in Hertfordshire
The problem with plastic pollution in Hertfordshire
Article with advice from Stevenage Skip Hire on ways to reduce your plastic waste
Article about why plastic microbeads are a load of rubbish from Stevenage Skip Hire
Article about why waste plastic from the UK is polluting the globe from Stevenage Skip Hire
Article about hiring a skip from Stevenage Skip Hire rather than using the local dump
Article about hiring a skip from Stevenage Skip Hire for your garden waste
Article about getting a skip and avoid fly tipping in Hertfordshire
Article about waste and recycling from Stevenage Skip Hire
Article about hiring a skip instead of going to your local Hertfordshire tip
Article about hiring a skip from Stevenage Skip Hire for your soil and mud
Article with useful information about skip hire in Hertfordshire
Article about hiring a skip from Stevenage Skip Hire to save you time effort and money
Article about the benefits of skip hire from Stevenage Skip Hire in Hertfordshire
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