But first, always reuse, repair or share

Before dropping off your clothes at the charity shop, chucking out a broken lamp, or tossing out perfectly edible food consider alternative options. By learning to repair something, putting surplus food on Olio or dropping off unwanted but usable goods at a Reuse Hub, you are extending the life of a product instead of using up valuable resources to sort, clean and recycle.

  1. Reuse Network – find items such as 
  2. Repair Cafes – A meeting place to learn how fix things such as clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, appliances, toys etc
  3. The Restart Project – A social enterprise that teaches you how to repair broken electronics through their Restart Parties
  4. Repair Directory by The Restart Project (Beta version – East and North London only) – Search the Restart Repair Directory to find a reliable repair business in your area.
  5. Community Fridges by Hubbub – A simple way of sharing good food that would otherwise go to waste
  6. Olio – A food sharing app for giving away surplus food and other non-food items in your local area
  7. Packshare – Share unwanted packing material like bubble wrap and boxes in your local area

The Problem with Plastics Recycling

The biggest headscratcher for all of us, plastic comes in many different forms under various resin numbers which sometimes isn’t even visible on the plastic. To make matters more confusing, not all councils collect the same types of materials so as consumers, we unfortunately need to figure this out for ourselves. Always check your local council website or recyclenow.com to make sure you are aware of what can and can’t be accepted for recycling.

Here’s a BBC infographic to demonstrate the plastic recycling situation all over the UK:

Since some councils don’t accept plastic films for doorstep recycling, pop into the larger stores of most major supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-op and Waitrose where there are carrier bag collection points available.

Image by @karabrussen

Image by Sopwell Resident’s Association

CAN be recycled CAN’T be recycled
  1. All plastic bags, except biodegradable or compostable bags
  2. Bread bags
  3. Breakfast cereal liners
  4. Shrink wrap & ring joiners from multipacks of water, cans etc
  5. Breakfast cereal liners
  6. Frozen food bags, e.g. bags for frozen vegetable, chips, etc
  7. Dry cleaning bags/bags covering new clothing
  8. Magazine and newspaper wrappers
  9. Bags for fruit and vegetables
  10. Bubble wrap
  11. Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) – resin ID code 4

  1. Any non-Polyethylene film (e.g. PP, PVC, others)
  2. Any film claiming to be biodegradable
  3. Cling film
  4. Food and drink pouches
  5. Wrappers from bakeries, e.g. bags with lots of small holes in them
  6. Film lids from trays and pots, e.g. yoghurt pots
  7. Any dirty bags or film, for example containing food
  8. Crisp packets
  9. Compostable bags
  10. Pre-prepared salad bags

  • All items should be clean and free of food.
  • Tear off sticky labels where possible.
  • As a general rule, if you can stretch the film then it can be recycled.
  • Compostable and biodegradable bags are not designed to be recycled and if they enter the recycling system can potentially cause quality issues in the recycled material.

Source: Recycle Now

Now, back to the hard to recycle stuff

  1. ‘Recycle Now’ Directory – features a comprehensive list of items and what to do with them
  2. Charity Shop Locator – second-hand clothes, shoes, accessories, homeware, bric-a-brac, books, CDs, toys and sports equipment
Food Packaging Recycling
  1. Ella’s Kitchen Food Pouches Recycling by Terracycle
  2. Crisp Packet Recycling by Terracycle
  3. Pringles® Can Recycling by Terracycle
  4. Tayto® Crisp and Snack Packaging Recycling by Terracycle
  5. Tassimo® & L’OR® Recycling by Terracycle
Personal Care Recycling
  1. L’Occitane® Recycling by Terracycle
  2. Beauty Product Packaging Recycling (Any type) by Terracycle
  3.  Cosmetic Packaging Recycling (Any type) by Origins
  4. Weleda® Soft Touch Plastic Tubes Recycling by Terracycle
Household Recycling
  1. Bottle Cap Recycling at Lush shops (Lush bottle caps, Milk bottle caps, Soft drink caps, Juice bottle caps, Fabric softener caps only)
  2. Writing Instruments Recycling by Terracycle
  3. Old batteries, energy efficient light bulbs and Brita Filters Recycling by Robert Dyas
  4. Energy efficient light bulbs recycling (Old style glass and filament light bulbs are not recyclable)
  5. Pet Food Recycling by Terracycle
  6. Dishwashing, cleaning and fragrance flexible packaging recycling by Terracycle
Bra Recycling
  1. Bra Recycling by Against Breast Cancer
  2. Bra Recycling by Bravissimo
  3. Bra Recycling by Smalls for All
Clothes Recycling
  1. H&M – textiles recycling (10% off discount voucher)
  2. And Other Stories – textiles and own brand beauty products recycling (10% off discount voucher)
  3. Monki – textiles recycling, no shoes (10% off discount voucher)
  4. Weekday – textiles recycling (10% off discount voucher)
  5. Marks & Spencer – textiles recycling
Electronics Recycling
  1. Brother Toner and Inkjet Cartridge Recycling by Terracycle
  2. Electricals and Electronics Recycling by Curry’s PC World
  3. Apple – trade in any qualifying Apple product and get an Apple Gift Card
Medical Supplies Recycling
  1. Inhaler Recycling by GSK
  2. Spectacle Frame/Glasses Recycling by Vision Aid Overseas
  3. Contact Lens Recycling by Terracycle
  4. Medical Supplies (especially wigs, wheelchairs and walking aids) by Hospices of Hope
  5. Disposable Gloves Recycling by Terracycle