How Does Plastic Recycling Help the Environment

How Does Plastic Recycling Help the Environment

We’ve all been told to do our bit for the environment by recycling. After you’ve popped the waste in the recycling bin, you might be wondering how plastic recycling even helps the environment. We’ve got the answers for you, along with a guide on recycling at home. Just keep reading for all the information.

How does plastic recycling help the environment?

There are a few ways plastic recycling helps the environment. We’ve listed 6 of them. Have a read:

Energy conservation

Recycling actually consumes less energy than producing new, virgin polymers.

Reducing demand for raw materials

Plastic recycling reduces the need to extract new, raw materials from the earth as it reuses the stuff that’s already processed and protects natural resources. This can help reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. It also prevents adding more rubbish to landfills.

Reduced fossil fuel consumption

Plastic production uses a lot of oil. Although recycling also uses fossil fuels, it’s significantly less than the amount used when creating new plastics.

CO2 emission reduction

Reduced oil consumption also means reduced emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases that are produced whilst new plastics are being made. Additionally, recycling reduces pollution that is caused by burning waste.

Reduced landfill use

If more plastics are being recycled, it means less are ending up in landfills. Another benefit is that fewer plastics in landfills means less emission of common landfill gases, like carbon dioxide and methane. Both of these gases cause environmental damage.

Promotes a sustainable lifestyle

By recycling plastic, we’re aware of the dangers that the overconsumption of plastic can have. Just having this information is important, so we know the impact that our habits can have on the planet and can make the right changes in our daily lives.

Buxton water bottles in a fridge

How to recycle plastic at home

In the UK, and depending on where you live, you should have a designated place to throw your recycling in. This could be a bin or a plastic bag (which is provided by your local government).

Here are some items that can be recycled in the UK (make sure to check the packaging for more information).

Remember, not all lids are recyclable, so make sure to check this by looking at the label before you throw it away.

Recycling at home: recycling etiquette

Recycling at home is great, but before you throw your plastic in the bin, there are some things you should do beforehand.

Rinse your plastic

They don’t have to be spotless but leftover water (or other liquids and residue) can contaminate other materials, which could mean they are unable to be recycled. It could also damage the machinery. Don’t let your recycling efforts go to waste, make sure you rinse plastic containers before they go into the recycling bin.

Squash your water bottles

Squashing your bottles will mean more space in the recycling bin/box! Did you know: Buxton® bottles are designed to be squishable?

Leave labels on

These are removed in the plastic recycling process, so you don’t need to worry about removing them.

What do the plastic recycling symbols mean?

When you’ve used a plastic item, there should be information on how it’s recycled. This is shown by a little triangle made up of three arrows with a number or letter in the centre of it. These numbers and letters are an identification for the recycling teams. Plastics are classified into one of seven categories and shows how different materials are more or less easy to recycle. We’ve listed them for you below.

1 = PET

Polyethylene Terephthalate is widely recycled.

2 = HDPE

High-Density Polyethylene is widely recycled.

3 = PVC

 Polyvinyl Chloride is capable of being recycled but it’s harder to do so. You might have to check with local authority for this one.

4 = LDPE

Low-Density Polyethylene is capable of being recycled, but firstly check with your local authority.

5 = PP

Polypropylene is hard or not possible to recycle, so it’s best to try to reuse or avoid it. Polypropylene will usually be used in Tupperware and disposable cups.

6 = PS,

Polystyrene or Styrofoam is hard or not possible to recycle. It’s wise to reuse or avoid it. Styrofoam is used in some packing foam (or peanuts), disposable coffee cups and plastic cutlery.

7 = other

This is usually a blend of lots of different types of plastics. Plastics are separated by recycling companies before they’re recycled but because this type of plastic is a blend, it makes it almost impossible.


Hopefully, now you know all about plastic recycling’s affect on the environment. We’ve also laid out how to recycle plastic and what the recycling symbols mean, so you’re clued up on how to best take part in recycling in your daily lives to save the environment. Together, we can make this change.

Plastic recycling isn’t the only sustainability programme we take part in – we’re also passionate about water conservation. Make sure you check out our article on this, next.

4 articles