Guide

How to use recycled materials and products

Recycled plastics as a resource

As the UK's recycling targets rise, recycled plastics are becoming increasingly available.

How to use recycled plastics in your business

You can use recycled plastic in just as many ways as prime or virgin plastic, including in:

  • Packaging - recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) can be used in primary packaging by retailers and branded manufacturers for bottles and trays. However, it must be approved for use with food .
  • Construction products - eg damp proof membrane, drainage pipes, ducting and flooring, scaffolding boards and kerbstones.
  • Landscaping - walkways, jetties, pontoons, bridges, fences and signs can be made from recycled plastic due to its durability, low maintenance and resistance to vandalism and rot.
  • Textile fibre and clothing - polyester fleece clothing and polyester filling for duvets can be made from recycled PET bottles (eg soft drink and water bottles).
  • Street equipment - furniture, seating, bins, signs and planters can be made from plastic. These can be cheap to produce and are resistant to vandalism.
  • Bin liners and refuse sacks - plastic film can be made into new film products such as bin liners, carrier bags and refuse sacks.
  • Other uses - eg traffic management products, automotive products, stationery and industrial strapping.

Advantages of using recycled plastics

There are many benefits of using recycled plastics, both for your business and the environment. These include:

  • lowering the cost of materials
  • marketing and PR opportunities associated with reducing your environmental impact
  • making your business ready to comply with future legal measures, such as packaging taxation
  • reducing your dependency on commodity plastic pricing

The environmental benefits of using recycled plastic include reducing the:

  • volume of waste going to landfill
  • amount of oil used for plastic production
  • amount of energy consumed
  • CO2 emissions associated with the product

Standards and quality protocols for recycled plastics

You should look for recycled plastics that have been produced to the requirements of recognised standards and quality protocols. These will help you to ensure you are buying good quality materials.

The non-packaging plastics quality protocol gives guidance on how to recover waste and transform it into a valuable resource.