Commercial plastic recycling

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Compare commercial plastic recycling solutions

Our team of experts specialise in helping businesses find reliable and cost-effective plastic recycling services.

We offer an impartial comparison service, gathering quotes from our trusted plastic recycling providers to secure the best deal for your business. Using our service, you gain access to:

<h3>Cost-effectiveness and Savings</h3>

Cost-effectiveness and Savings

Use our comparison service and save on your commercial plastic recycling costs by accessing a comprehensive range of options tailored to your business needs.

<h3>Environmental Responsibility</h3>

Environmental Responsibility

Reputable plastic recycling providers adhere to stringent environmental standards and employ sustainable practices to dispose of plastic waste responsibly, contributing to environmental conservation efforts.

<h3>Compliance and Peace of Mind</h3>

Compliance and Peace of Mind

Our trusted plastic recycling providers are fully licensed to legally and responsibly recycle plastic waste, ensuring adherence to regulations and providing you with peace of mind regarding ethical disposal practices.

The different types of plastic waste

Plastic recycling poses complexities, making it challenging to discern recyclable from non-recyclable materials.

To simplify this process, our experts have prepared the table below, which outlines what plastics are recyclable and are not considered plastic waste.

Plastic TypeFound inCan it be recycled?What is it recycled into?
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)Drinks bottles, food packaging, and polyester.Widely recycledFibre for clothing and carpets, Bottles and containers.
High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)Milk jugs, detergent bottles, and plastic bagsWidely recycledBottles and containers, pipes and recycling bins.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or V)Pipes, window frames, and certain packaging materials.Not easily recyclablePipes and plumbing fittings, vinyl flooring and window profiles and frames.
Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)Plastic bags, cling film, and some packaging.Recycle at specialist pointsPlastic bags and film, rubbish bin liners and bin bags and landscape edging.
Polypropylene (PP)Yoghurt containers, bottle caps and food containersWidely recycledPackaging materials, automotive parts, furniture and textiles,
Polystyrene (PS)Foam packaging, disposable cups, and food containers.Not easily recyclableEPS briquettes, protective packaging, polystyrene ‘wood’-looking product
OtherUsed for crisp packets, rice packetsRecycle at specialist pointsPlastic pellets, which can then be used in the creation of other useful commodities

Source: Recycle Now

Understanding plastic recycling labelling in the UK

The array of plastic recycling symbols often poses confusion. To alleviate this, our experts have compiled a concise guide listing recyclable symbols in the UK.

This resource aims to simplify the process, empowering you to know what plastics can be recycled.

<h3>PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate)</h3>

PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

PETE plastic, also known as PET, stands as the most prevalent type of plastic. Remarkably, approximately 70% of all plastic bottles and containers in the United Kingdom are crafted from PETE. Fortunately, PETE is extensively recycled.

<h3>HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)</h3>

HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)

HDPE, traditionally favoured in the construction sector for pipe manufacturing, has expanded its utility to include containers like milk cartons and cleaning product bottles. Notably, HDPE is now extensively recycled.

<h3>PVC (High-Density Polyethylene)</h3>

PVC (High-Density Polyethylene)

Similar to HDPE, PVC finds common application in the construction industry, notably in crafting items like door and window frames. Encouragingly, PVC is widely recyclable.

<h3>LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene)</h3>

LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene)

LDPE frequently serves as the material for plastic carrier bags and bin liners. Regrettably, it stands as one of the most commonly discarded types of plastic, with approximately 500 million plastic bags used worldwide each year, of which only a fraction are recycled. Fortunately, there are now initiatives underway to enhance the recycling of LDPE products.

<h3>PP (Polypropylene)</h3>

PP (Polypropylene)

PP plastics are commonly employed in packaging, including plastic tubs, containers, and beverage cartons, as well as in furniture production. Fortunately, this versatile plastic is recyclable.

Plastic waste disposal

Plastic waste disposal involves various methods; here are some of the common ways to dispose of plastic waste:



Recycling is one of the most effective methods for managing plastic waste. Plastics can be sorted, cleaned, and processed into new products. Many types of plastic, such as PET and HDPE, are widely recyclable. However, the effectiveness of recycling programs depends on factors such as local infrastructure, collection systems, and market demand for recycled materials.

💡Plastic recycling generally happens abroad; you can read more about this on our waste exports page.



Landfill disposal involves burying plastic waste in designated areas. While landfills are a common method of waste disposal, they can pose environmental risks such as groundwater contamination and greenhouse gas emissions from decomposing plastics.

💡In the UK, waste sent to landfill incurs a landfill tax charge.



Incineration involves burning plastic waste at high temperatures to generate energy. This method can reduce the volume of waste and produce electricity or heat for industrial processes. However, incineration releases air pollutants and greenhouse gases, and certain plastics may emit toxic substances when burned.

💡Advanced incineration technologies, such as gas scrubbers and particulate filters, can help minimise environmental impacts.



Pyrolysis is a niche process that uses thermal decomposition to convert plastic waste into liquid fuels, gases, and char. This method can recover energy from plastic waste while reducing landfill dependence.

💡Suez and German company Pyrum have partnered to build the UK’s first Pyrolysis plant, so although this has yet to be built in the UK.

Source: Suez

Minimising the production of plastic waste

Minimising the production of non-recyclable plastic waste is crucial for businesses looking to reduce their environmental impact.

Here are some effective ways for businesses to minimise the use of plastic and decrease the need for recycling:

<h3>Switch to Reusable Alternatives</h3>

Switch to Reusable Alternatives

Wherever possible, replace single-use plastic items with reusable alternatives. For example, use durable glass or stainless steel containers for packaging and storage instead of plastic.

<h3>Offer Refill Stations</h3>

Offer Refill Stations

Implement refill stations for products like hand soap, detergents, and cleaning supplies to allow customers and employees to refill their containers, reducing the need for single-use plastic bottles.

<h3>Use Compostable or Biodegradable Packaging</h3>

Use Compostable or Biodegradable Packaging

Opt for compostable or biodegradable packaging materials from renewable resources such as plant-based plastics, paper, or cardboard. These materials naturally degrade in the environment, reducing the accumulation of plastic waste.

<h3>Choose Recyclable Materials</h3>

Choose Recyclable Materials

Select packaging materials that are easily recyclable, such as cardboard, paperboard, and certain plastics like PET and HDPE. Label packaging with clear recycling instructions to encourage proper disposal.

<h3>Encourage BYO (Bring Your Own)</h3>

Encourage BYO (Bring Your Own)

Customers and employees should bring reusable bags, containers, and cups when purchasing products or meals. Offer incentives or discounts for customers who bring their containers for takeout or leftovers.

<h3>Educate and Engage Employees</h3>

Educate and Engage Employees

Educate employees about the importance of reducing plastic waste and encourage them to identify opportunities for waste reduction and sustainable practices in their work areas. Provide training on proper waste management and recycling procedures.

How plastic is recycled

The process of recycling plastic involves several key steps:



Plastic waste is collected from various sources, including businesses and recycling centres. This can involve kerbside collection, drop-off points, or specialised recycling programs.



Once collected, plastic waste is sorted based on its type and composition. Different plastics (e.g., PET, HDPE, PVC) are often separated to ensure efficient recycling.



The sorted plastic is cleaned to remove contaminants such as dirt, food residue, or labels. This step is crucial to ensuring the quality of the recycled plastic.



The cleaned plastic is then shredded into small pieces or flakes. This increases the surface area and facilitates the melting process in the next steps.

<h3>Melting and Pelletising</h3>

Melting and Pelletising

The shredded plastic is melted down and formed into small pellets or granules through pelletising. These pellets serve as the raw material for manufacturing new plastic products.



Manufacturers use plastic pellets to produce a wide range of products, including bottles, containers, packaging, textiles, and construction materials.

Commercial plastic recycling FAQs

Our waste experts answer your commonly asked questions regarding commercial plastic recycling below:

Which plastics cannot be recycled?

The recyclability of plastics can vary depending on local recycling facilities and guidelines. While many plastics can be recycled, there are some common types that are often not accepted in recycling programs or are more challenging to recycle:

  • Polystyrene Foam (Expanded Polystyrene): Polystyrene foam is often used in packaging materials, disposable cups, and food containers and is difficult to recycle due to its lightweight and bulky nature.
  • Plastic Film and Bags: Thin plastic films, such as grocery bags, cling wrap, and packaging films, are typically not accepted in curbside recycling programs in the UK due to the risk of jamming recycling machinery.
  • Black Plastic: Black plastic packaging is often not recycled in the UK because sorting equipment in recycling facilities may struggle to detect the colour effectively, leading to contamination of recycling streams.
  • Mixed Plastics: Items made from a combination of different types of plastics can be challenging to recycle because separating the materials is complex and costly. Mixed plastics may not be accepted in some recycling programs.
  • Biodegradable Plastics: Plastics labelled as biodegradable or compostable may not be suitable for traditional recycling processes and can contaminate recycling streams if mixed with conventional plastics. Some biodegradable plastics may suit your home composting bin but must carry the seedling logo.

Why can’t black plastics be recycled in the UK?

It’s a common question: why can’t black plastics be recycled in the UK?

The issue lies in the sorting process. When plastic packaging enters the recycling stream, it undergoes sorting into different types of plastics using Near-Infrared (NIR) technology. However, black plastic presents a challenge for NIR lasers because its dark colour absorbs infrared light, making it difficult for the lasers to detect and distinguish from other materials. As a result, black plastic is often not sorted for recycling.

As a consequence, recycling centres commonly discard black plastic items, directing them towards incineration or landfill.

Can businesses face penalties for not managing plastic waste properly?

In the UK, businesses must adhere to waste legislation, which is devolved across different regions. Failure to properly manage plastic waste can result in penalties, particularly in Wales and Scotland.

For specific details on waste legislation in your area, we recommend reading our detailed blog on devolved waste legislation.