Plastics are light and bulky and we normally collect them as mixed recyclables rather than as a separated material. There are a range of different grades and types of plastics which need to be separated before they can be recycled and this can be done at a ‘Materials Recovery Facility’.
We take all our mixed plastics to ‘Material Recovery Facilities’ that are designed to deal with mixed materials collected from domestic premises by Local Authority collectors. If materials are accepted by Local Authorities, then we are also able to collect and recycle them. The majority of the materials we collect are PET1 or HDPE2 as these are used to make drinks bottles, milk bottles and food trays which are the main plastic items disposed of in an office environment. We do also collect some PVC3.
Once separated at the ‘Materials Recovery Facility’ the plastics are forwarded to specialist plastic recycling plants where the more valuable materials (clear PET bottles, Light blue PET bottles and HDPE bottles) are removed for processing. This process involves granulating and washing to ensure all contaminates including labels, glue and residues from inside the bottles are removed. During the washing process, PET and HDPE can be easily separated as they have different densities which means PET flakes sinks in the solution used whilst HPDE flakes float to the surface.
PET flakes are used to produce new bottles or other food packaging. HDPE flakes are used to produce new milk bottles.
Other grades of plastics are treated in a similar manner and used to produce lower grade materials such as clothing, carpets or plaswood which is used to produce items such as pipes or wood substitute furniture.