Given that the UK government has now declared a climate emergency, doing our bit for the environment has never been more important. While we’re told that recycling packaging is a simple way to help the environment, it can often be quite a daunting prospect, as recycling isn’t always as easy as placing an item in the recycling bin.
That’s why in today’s post, we’re discussing how to correctly dispose of your packaging, so you’re never left struggling to know which bin to choose again. From plastic packaging to cardboard boxes, bubble wrap and other protective materials, here’s our guide to recycling packaging in a safe and eco-friendly way.
While plastic is an incredibly durable packaging material that’s cheap to produce, it’s also one of the most damaging UK packaging pollutants, with 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flowing into the oceans every year.
Plastic contains a lot of different polymer forms, which makes it more difficult to sort and reprocess than other packaging materials. Items such as plastic bottles are easy to recycle and are easily identified - making them an item which is usually collected by UK councils. Plastic lids and caps, however, require a little more processing, which is where the confusion starts. While it’s advisory to remove lids from bottles, many recycling companies will now separate the lids for you. If you’re at all unsure when it comes to lids, it’s best to check the label on the lid or bottle to see if there’s a recycling symbol.
Plastic pots, tubs and trays such as sandwich packaging are generally accepted by most household recycling schemes. However, if in doubt, contact your recycling centre, as they can often be composed of several types of plastic and consequently different polymer forms meaning they may not be suitable for recycling depending on your local council’s facilities.
The main types of cardboard that you’re likely to find such as corrugated cardboard from standard boxes are recyclable. However, in the UK, cardboard packaging is often collected separately to food and drink packaging, so check before you put it all together in the same bin.
When it comes to cardboard disposal, it’s usually picked up by local recycling collections, but if you prefer it can also be disposed of at local recycling sites. Of course, bulky cardboard boxes eat up valuable bin space in recycling containers, so it’s best practice to break it down so it’s compacted and ready for collection.
When recycling cardboard and paper, it’s also essential to remove any tape, polystyrene or plastic inserts that may not be recyclable. Particularly at Christmas or birthdays when a lot of packaging is likely to be received, it’s worth double checking for any hidden glitter, badges and batteries as they won’t decompose. Glitter is a microplastic which is making its way into our seas and affecting marine life - so while it’s difficult to remove and can add some time onto the disposal process, it’s important to remember the potential damage it can have on the planet.
Bubble wrap and protective
While bubble wrap can be used several times (if you can resist the temptation to leave it unpopped), it can be recycled, however curbside recycling is limited, as many companies don’t pick up plastic bags or film. Other uses include protecting gifts or fragile items, passing it on to an online recycling site or making use of it in the garden to protect plants and pots from damage. After reusing bubble wrap as many times as possible, it’s best practice to drop off bubble wrap at special collection points, such as supermarkets.
However, where possible, we’d suggest switching to recyclable packaging materials such as paper packaging and tissue paper - as these are decomposable and are likely to be collected by kerbside companies or local authorities in the UK. When it comes to choosing wrapping paper, opt for recyclable materials where possible - checking the label before purchasing to make sure it’s recyclable and doesn’t contain any plastic compounds.
The key to disposing of your packaging correctly is checking all information on the packaging itself, including its composition and any symbols on the packaging. If in doubt, contact your local recycling collector or search online for a recycling specialist, that way, you can have peace of mind that you’ve done your bit for the environment.
Whether you’re looking for suitable recyclable packaging supplies for your online business or simply wrapping a bulk of Christmas gifts this year, our packaging experts will help you find the perfect solution. Get in touch with the Kendon Packaging team today by calling 01992 702470 to chat through your requirements with one of the UK’s leading packaging manufacturers.