A Very Short Guide on Recycling Plastics

  • Mar, 17 , 19
  • Kevin Coyle

In days gone by it was often said that at school the most important things to learn were the three R's. That is: reading, writing and, erm, rithmatic. It's time to learn a new three R's:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Sustainable Existence is committed to reducing the amount of plastic that we use and we'd advise the first R as much as possible, that's why we're compiling a series of the best ways to replace plastic in your life. Simple things like replacing your plastic toothbrush with a bamboo toothbrush etc.

However we do realise that it isn't always practical to do that so fortunately, we have the technology to recycle most plastics. Sort of.

Pick up any bottle of fizzy drink and at the bottom of the bottle you'll see a triangle that looks a bit like this:


This indicates what sort of plastic is used in the bottle. These are called Resin Identification codes, but let's just call RICs

Most products have this on the bottom, grab something plastic right now and take a look. You see it?

OK, so what does this mean?

Well it all depends on your local council. My local council, will only collect and recycle plastics with the a 2 in it and this really sucks. It sucks because the technology does exist to recycle most plastics, but as with most things it comes down to cost. 

But don't dismay, there is still something that you can do.

So, what can I do about it?

If you have the time and the means you can pop down to your local recycling centre. You can find them on this website https://www.recyclenow.com/local-recycling 

If you'd like to motivate your local council to improve their services then I'd advise you to contact your local councillor. You can find their address at this website https://www.writetothem.com/ and let them know that you're a keen recycler and you'd like the services to improve. 

Take a note at the RIC numbers on your most commonly used plastics. Here's a quick table that you can refer to:

Recycling Number Type of plastic Example of item
  • Polyester fibres
  • Some drinks bottles
  • Tote Bags
  • Plastic bottles
  • Shopping bags (the cheap ones)
  • Wheely bins (ironically)
  • Awful clothes
  • Shower curtains
  • Kids toys
  • Shopping bags
  • Tubing
5 Polypropylene
  • Tupperware boxes
  • Plastic dishware
6 Polystyrene
  • Packaging
  • Kids toys
  • Plastic knives and forks
7 Other (can include things like acrylic and nylon)
  • Nylon tights
  • Loads of different things!

Sadly, you'd be lucky if your local council will do the first two so that's why it's so important to become

Plastic Aware

Become plastic aware and then we can push towards, reducing our plastic use, reusing the plastic we have to use and recycling what is left over.