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What can I recycle? Household recycling rules explained - including polystyrene, bubble wrap and crisp packets

Here’s a list of common materials you can recycle at home on Global Recycling Day 2022

<p>What you can recycle depends on where you live, as not all council’s have the same facilities to do it (image: Getty Images)</p>

What you can recycle depends on where you live, as not all council’s have the same facilities to do it (image: Getty Images)

Throwing out the bins is probably not your favourite household chore.

But putting waste in the right bin is a way we can all play our part in protecting the environment and combatting climate change.

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And it’s being celebrated on Friday (18 March) as part of Global Recycling Day 2022.

Unfortunately, the UK’s recycling system doesn’t always make life easy for us, with a lack of clarity over where some materials, particularly plastic waste, should be recycled.

So, to help, NationalWorld has written a guide to recycling, including a list of common materials and how to get rid of them.

How can you recycle?

What and how you can recycle depends on where you live.

Different local authorities have different rules depending on the recycling facilities they have at their disposal.

You can find out what your council’s recycling rules are by visiting the Government website.

You should check with your council about what they recycle and how you can do it (image: PA)

Some councils give each household one recycling bin, while others might give you another bin or rubbish container especially for materials like glass.

What can you recycle?

As a general rule of thumb, the following materials can be recycled in your home recycling bin:

  • Cartons
  • Mixed glass bottles and jars
  • Food tins and drinks cans
  • Mixed paper and card (e.g. old newspapers, envelopes and cardboard boxes with tape removed)
  • Mixed plastic packaging

If the item has been in contact with food or drink, it has to be washed out before it can be recycled.

If this label is on something you think you can recycle, it means it’s recycled by more than 75% of councils in the UK (image: Wrap)

You should always look for the recycling label on the packaging or item you’re trying to recycle.

This label means it can be recycled by at least 75% of local authorities.

Recycling rules for common materials

There are several materials that seem like they should be recyclable but are actually not.

One of them is polystyrene.

Used in takeaway containers, or to package white goods, the material cannot be recycled anywhere in the UK at present and should be thrown away with general waste.

While this seems incredibly wasteful, some companies are finding other solutions.

For example, fully biodegradable and compostable packaging is becoming more common.

Crisp packets are not currently recyclable at home but you can take them to one of  Terracycle’s Crisp Packet Recycling Scheme points.

To find where these are, you should check Government-backed campaign Recycle Now’s website.

What can you recycle at supermarkets?

You can still recycle some other materials at other locations.

Sometimes, plastic films or plastic bags have labels telling you they can be ‘recycled at larger stores’.

These labels refer to the big bins some stores have in their car parks, or smaller bins you can find inside the shop.

They are not always easy to spot, so it’s worth asking your local supermarket if it has a plastic bag recycling point.

Here is a list of things you can recycle at most supermarkets:

  • All plastic bags, except biodegradable or compostable bags
  • Bread bags
  • Breakfast cereal liners
  • Bubble wrap
  • Delivery bags
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • Frozen food bags
  • Magazine and newspaper wrappers
  • Multi-pack wrapping
  • Plastic marked as low-density polyethylene (LDPE) - resin ID code 4
  • Toilet roll wrapping

Selected stores of major supermarkets may also accept:

  • Baby, pet food, detergent and cleaning pouches
  • Biscuits and chocolate wrapping
  • Cheese, fish and meat wrapping
  • Cling film
  • Crisp and sweet bags
  • Plastic film lids
  • Salad, pasta, and rice bags

Often, supermarkets will also have battery recycling points.

Again, these are not always easy to spot, so it’s worth asking a store worker where you can find one of these points.

You can find out what recycling facilities are available, and where, by putting your postcode into Recycle Now’s recycling location finder.

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