Plastic bottles lined up for recycling

Everything you need to know about plastic bottle recycling

Some of the UK’s biggest producers of plastic packaging waste have signed up to a new Wrap-led initiative to eliminate single-use plastics as early as 2025.

The move comes in response to concerns about discarded drinks bottles and other plastic waste entering the environment not only in the UK, but all over the world, from deserted islands to floating collections of plastic waste where ocean currents meet.

Under the UK Plastics Pact, the big brands have made several commitments:

  • To eliminate single-use plastic packaging where possible by 2025.
  • To make 100% of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable.
  • To achieve a 70% recycling or composting rate.
  • To achieve a 30% recycling rate across all plastic packaging.

A total of 42 brands have signed up to the UK Plastics Pact, including Britvic, Coca-Cola, Nestle and Pepsico, along with retailers like Asda, Aldi, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose among others.

So with plastic bottle recycling under the spotlight, here are some of the most common questions about plastics recycling and why it is such an important commitment right now.

How does waste plastic get into the environment?

Sadly a lot of waste plastic is just thrown away on our streets and pavements or worse, into rivers or dumped on the beach.

As it is so lightweight and floats, any plastic that finds its way into a watercourse will usually end up in the sea, which is how those huge floating islands have been able to form.

Are plastic bottles the only problem?

No – all disposable plastic is a cause for concern. As well as single-use plastic bottles, other big problems at present include disposable drinking straws and plastic-stem cotton buds.

You can help to reduce this problem by using paper straws where available (many of the high street brands have switched to these) and by making sure your plastic waste goes in the bin, and not flushed down the toilet.

Paper-stem cotton buds are increasingly common, especially from the brand-name cosmetics companies, so again, look out for these and reduce your plastic use without any major effort required.