Waste Less Plastics

From April to October we looked at how to waste less plastics.

Back to the current campaign on Waste Less Paper and Card.


We have been recycling plastic bottles in West Sussex for years, but only began accepting plastic containers six months ago. That means we have seen a lot of spring and summer plastics - Easter egg inserts, fruit punnets, burger trays, yoghurt pots and ice cream tubs. As we head into autumn, and it becomes colder, we are expecting to see more soup tubs, custard pots, biscuit trays and the plastic meat trays from your Sunday roast. That’s in addition of course to all your bottles and any cosmetic or laundry tubs.

Great quality

There was a concern that as we starting taking in plastic containers, that they would bring with them higher levels of stuck-on food stuffs, which in turn sticks to and ruins the quality of other recycling like paper and card. But this hasn’t been the case. Apart from the odd sauce bottle that’s not been washed out, the majority of what we’ve seen has been really clean, which is fantastic. Good quality recycling conserves valuable resources, provides better value for money than disposal, with valuable funds coming back into council services and also has a much lower carbon footprint than other forms of waste treatment and disposal.

More to do

The figures for the first quarter show that West Sussex residents have recycled 200 tonnes of plastic. Given that plastic doesn’t weigh much, this is a great start, and if we continue to save 200 tonnes each quarter, together you will have saved around £65,000 in landfill tax just from recycling plastic in one year. However, if we push it to 300 tonnes per quarter, over a year this is just under £100,000 saved in landfill tax. 400 tonnes – doubling what we are receiving now - is £131,000 saved. We are still striving of course to improve our recycling rate too, and need everyone to cut back on their waste and recycle as much as they can, with an 8% improvement required by EU law in just 5 years’ time.

Team effort

On its own, one yoghurt pot only weighs 10g. But you wouldn’t ever recycle just one pot, and most are bought off the supermarket shelf in packs of four. That’s why we don’t work individually to do this, each and every one of us plays our part in something much bigger.

Let’s say every household in West Sussex recycled 1 x pack of yoghurts each month; in a year that would be 189 tonnes of plastic, weighing about the same as 189 small cars, and saving  £15,500 in landfill tax. Or if you add a bottle of squash each month as well, which is another 40g, combined that would be 378 tonnes of plastic per year, weighing the same as two Concordes, and saving around £31,000 in landfill tax.

Yes please

  • All plastic bottles (e.g. drinks, bathroom and detergent bottles)
  • All pots (e.g. yoghurt, cream and cottage cheese pots)
  • All tubs (e.g. ice cream, margarine, cosmetics, and laundry tubs)
  • All food trays (e.g. food, meat, fruit, microwave trays and Easter egg packaging)
  • All plastic lids (e.g. chocolate spread lids, coffee jar lids, margarine lids - have to be a "lid" rather than a "bottle top")

No thanks

  • Plastic films (e.g. Cling film, the covers of food trays and peel-back lids)
  • Bags (e.g. carrier bags, bin liners, cereal bags, sandwich bags, and bread bags)
  • Plastic bottle tops (e.g. milk tops, soft drink bottles, squash bottles - these are all too small)
  • Crisp packets and wrappers
  • Polystyrene
  • Plastic toys
  • Garden plastics (e.g. Plant pots, seed trays, tools and furniture)

Want more information? Visit www.recycleforwestsussex.org.uk/