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How To Reduce Plastic Waste At Work

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Whether your workplace is a factory, office or retail building, it is extremely likely that you will be generating a lot of plastic waste. Did you know that British companies have shipped more than 2.7 million tonnes of plastic waste to China and Hong Kong since 2012? As a large retailer of plastic packaging products, we are more than aware of the big environmental issue that plastic waste causes and want to use our voice to encourage manufacturers and individuals to dispose of plastic waste responsibly. In this short guide, we’ll explore the best ways to reduce plastic waste in the workplace. Office managers and CEO’s – listen up!

Find Out Where The Most Waste Is Originating 

In order to address the problem, you’ll need to identify the source! If you work in an office, chances are that your main source of plastic waste will be from food and drink packaging that employees have brought in for lunch. If 20 people are getting a meal deal every day, the amount of sandwich containers and plastic bottles can soon add up! However, sometimes the plastic waste that your company generates goes unseen. If you are a mass retailer that uses plastic packaging, then you won’t be the ones left to dispose of it. Even though it technically isn’t your problem any longer, you have still contributed towards the plastic waste. Plastic waste can also be a by-product of production processes in factories. Once you’ve identified the specific area in which you are generating the most waste, you can start to brainstorm solutions.

Organise Your Recycling Bins

One of the first things that you can do within your company is too make sure that you have an easy way for your employees to recycle their plastic. Instead of having a number of general waste bins dotted around your office, why not have a designated recycling station? This only has to consist of a maximum of 5 different bins: cardboard/paper waste, glass waste, plastic waste, food waste and general waste. By encouraging staff to make the effort by making it easy for them to comply, you will be making a big difference without making a big deal out of it!

recycling bins

Evaluate Your Packaging Materials

If you’re a producer of consumer goods, then it’s a great idea to see if there are any changes that you can make to the materials you use to create or package your items. Plastic drink bottles are a big contributor to plastic waste worldwide, yet it is difficult to see how this product can be made more eco-friendly without losing the clear benefits that plastic offers. But there are sustainable alternatives! Here at Ampulla, we have a small range of PLA Plastic Drink Bottles that are biodegradable! PLA Plastic is made using 100% plant material that can be broken down using industrial composters in around 6 months, thanks to the heat exposure that a huge amount of composting material gives you. However, the biodegradability of these bottles does not impact on their quality! They have the same look and feel as normal plastic bottles, with the only difference being that you cannot leave them in direct sunlight, as the plastic may begin to soften and lose it’s shape. If PLA isn’t for you, then you also have the option to switch to aluminium cans, which are more easily recycled or even glass bottles.

Other Handy Tips To Reduce Plastic Waste At Work

  • Request that your suppliers use less plastic;
  • Swap disposable plastic water cups for paper ones;
  • Encourage your staff to bring in their own reusable water bottles;
  • Remove any plastic cutlery from communal kitchens and replace with stainless steel;
  • Replace plastic bags with paper or compostable bags for customers.

These are just a few of the small ideas that can help you improve the carbon footprint of your business and show your customers that you’re making positive steps to become more sustainable.

If you’ve found our ideas on how to reduce plastic waste at work useful, then we think that you’d also enjoy our guide to identifying plastic recycling codes.

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Types Of Recyclable Plastic & Identifying Plastic Codes

Types Of Recyclable Plastic

We all know that plastic is notoriously not recycled enough in the UK, with only 44.9% of plastic waste being recovered or recycled in 2016. But why are we not recycling all of our plastic packaging? After all, it’s never been easier to recycle your home and business waste! You can request recycling bins from your local council and there are also plenty of recycling centres around the country that collect the things that your council will not. There is no excuse to send your recyclable waste to landfill! The confusion often lies in the sheer amount of different types of recyclable plastic. How are you supposed to know if your packaging is recyclable or not?

All packaging labels should indicate whether or not the plastic packaging is recyclable or not, which is usually signified by a number.

Plastic Codes

There are 7 codes of plastic that you need to look out for when disposing of your packaging.

1 – PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate)
Used for single use, clear plastic drinks bottles, fruit containers, ready meal food trays and polyester textile fibres.

2 – HDPE (high density polyethylene)
Used for milk bottles, shampoo bottles, margarine tubs and household cleaning bottles.

3 – V (Vinyl) or PVC
Used for shower curtains, children’s toys, detergent bottles and medical equipment.

4 – LDPE (low density polyethylene)
Used for carrier bags and squeezy bottles.

5 – PP (polypropylene)
Used for food pots, bottle tops, yogurt pots and sauce bottles.

5 – PS (polystyrene)
Used for meat packaging trays and egg cartons.

7 – O (other)
This category refers to all other plastics that are not listed above.

types of recyclable plastic codes

Types Of Recyclable Plastic

So which of the plastic codes above can be put into your recycling system? PET and HDPE plastics are by far the most commonly used in the UK, and they are both fully recyclable. At least 92% of local councils collect PET and HDPE bottles, but some areas do not collect certain forms of PET and HDPE  (such as food trays and tubs) due to issues with sorting, so it’s best to check online with your local council to confirm this. PVC is not collected by councils, so you must dispose of this material independently. Some plastic lumber makers accept PVC, so it’s a great idea to find one nearby if you are going to be regularly using this material. Usage of PVC packaging is generally declining due to it’s non-recyclability.

LDPE carrier bags are now often collected by supermarkets for recycling, but it is generally not accepted through local council bin collections. Some recycling centres do accept it, if they have mixed plastic recycling facilities. The same applies for PP and polystyrene plastics. Plastics that fit into code 7 consist of a variety of different plastic structures. You will need to check which plastic you have (this may be indicated on the brand label) in order to know what you can do to dispose of it responsibly. Some code 7 plastics, such as PLA, are even compostable!

Here at Ampulla, we have a wide range of plastic packaging products available for individuals and both small and large businesses to use. With no minimum order and discounts on the price per unit when you buy in larger quantities, you can be sure that you’re getting the best value! Take a look at our full range of plastic packaging, including jerry cans, bottles and tubs here.

To Find Out More

We hope that you’ve found this short guide to types of recyclable plastic and plastic codes useful and that you will stop and think before throwing your plastic waste away! If you want to learn more about this subject, then we’ve found that Recycle Now is a great resource for finding out all the information you need about recycling in your area. They have tools to help you find your nearest recycling centre and advice on how to dispose of specific items such as electricals and textiles.

If you liked this post about types of recyclable plastic, then we think that you’d also like to hear about our new PCR10 products.

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What Happens To Your Recycled Plastic Bottles?

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Ever wondered what happens to the recycled plastic bottles that you’ve put in your recycling bins? We’ve all heard how important recycling is, in order to do your bit to save the planet and protect our oceans from the scourge of single-use plastic items. When you’ve spent time and effort sorting all your waste into their designated bins, you’ll want to know that your recyclable products are being turned into something useful! However a recent report from the BBC has thrown some doubt on the UK’s recycling processes, as it has emerged that half of our recycling waste is sent abroad to be processed, giving us very little overview of what happens to it from then on. Whilst this is slightly worrying, there is no proof as of yet that this waste isn’t being recycled and the UK public has dramatically increased their recycling rates from 31% in 1998 up to 64% in 2017! We’re heading in the right direction.

But what can our recycled plastic bottles be turned into?

According to Recycle Your Plastics, your recycled plastic bottles can be turned into many different types of products that you might not even think of, including fibres for use in making clothes, sleeping bags, carpets and, of course, they can be turned into more plastic bottles. It actually takes 75% less energy to make a plastic bottle using recycled plastic bottles, than it does to make a plastic bottle from scratch! You could even upcycle your old plastic bottles – instead of throwing them in your recycling bins, turn them into something functional or decorative for your home, like this clever little fish below!

recycled plastic bottles fish

Things you probably didn’t know about recycling plastic:
  • PET and HDPE are the two easiest plastics to recycle. (Luckily we stock lots of them!)
  • Each year enough plastic is thrown away to circle the earth four times. Source.
  • Recycling 1 tonne of plastic bottles can save 1.5 tonnes of carbon! Source.
  • It takes around 25 two-litre plastic bottles to make a recycled fleece jacket. Source. 
  • In less than 2 hours, the UK produces enough waste to fill the Albert Hall. Source.
  • 79% of the plastic waste ever created is still in our environment. Source.
  • Plastic bottles are accepted for recycling by 99% of local councils in the UK. Source.
  • Plastic items such as carrier bags and bottles that end up in our oceans kill around 1,000,000 sea creatures every year. Source.

Some of these facts are truly shocking and makes you think twice about throwing your recyclable items into general waste. Our ranges of plastic juice bottles are made mainly from HDPE and PET plastic, which are both recyclable by almost every single council in Britain, giving you and your end users no excuse not to recycle them!

Browse our entire plastic juice and smoothie bottle collection right here.