Cling film disposal and recycling

While you may use clingfilm as a food storage item, it has many different uses. For example, cling film is often used to protect the skin from chafing after getting a tattoo. However, as we use clingfilm in large volumes worldwide every day, it’s clear that a real effort needs to be made to dispose of it correctly.

Cling film disposal and recycling

What type of waste is this clingfilm?

Cling film, which is also often referred to as plastic wrap or saran wrap, is a form of plastic waste typically made from thin, flexible plastics such as PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) or LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene). While traditional these products would be made entirely for PVC, many manufacturers are moving towards using LDPE as it’s a little more sustainable. While clingfilm is recyclable, it must be taken to a specialist facility in order to do so.

Who invented clingfilm?

Believe it or not, clingfilm was created by accident by a lab worker named Ralph Wiley. When working for Dow Chemical, Wiley was in charge of cleaning the lab equipment each evening and found it difficult to remove a layer of film formed on one of the vials. He found the layer of film stuck to the surface while being resistant to both moisture and chemicals. Unknowingly, he had discovered PCV film. Several years later, the product hit the shelves and has been used for food storage ever since.

What is clingfilm made from, and how is it made?

What materials is clingfilm made from?

Clingfilm is made from either PVC or LDPE plastics. Both products have a complicated history when it comes to recycling, as they cannot be recycled alongside other plastic products as they are relatively thin and can therefore easily get caught in machinery.

How is clingfilm made?

Clingfilm is made through a process known as extrusion – where plastic polymers (in this case, PCV and LDPE) are heated until they reach melting point.

Once melted, the polymers are blown into a long thin tube. Compressed air is then blown through the tube, stretching the plastic until it reaches its desired thickness.

The product is then cooled and rolled.

Clingfilm disposal.

How do you dispose of clingfilm?

Unfortunately, clingfilm cannot be stored alongside the rest of your recycling. As a result, it is often advised that consumers throw these products away along with the rest of the general waste. However, if you are using clingfilm made from LDPE, it can be recycled. As a result, you should:

Store products in the appropriate containers before collection. For clingfilm, you can use plastic recycling bins.

Arrange for waste to be collected and transferred to the appropriate recycling facility.

What happens to clingfilm after it has been put in the bin?

If sent to a landfill site, clingfilm can take up to 1000 years to decompose naturally. During this time, the products contribute significantly to the overcrowding of landfills and speed up global warming. In some cases, these products may even be incinerated – which comes with its own environmental problems. However, if taken to the appropriate facility, LDPE clingfilm can be recycled in the same way carrier bags are recycled. The film is placed into a specialist machine, which shreds the plastic. The shreds are then turned into pellets – which will likely be mixed with new LDPE and reintroduced to the manufacturing process. While it could be used to form new plastic wrapping, recycled LDPE is also used to create bin bags and even floor tiles.

Alternatives to clingfilm.

What are some eco-friendly alternatives to clingfilm?

Due to the difficulties associated with recycling clingfilm (and similar soft plastic products), it’s far better to look into alternatives to use within your home or in the running of your business. For example, you could use glass/plastic tubs to store food, keeping it fresh for longer without requiring clingfilm. Alternatively, you can look into biodegradable products that are designed to break down much quicker than plastics.

Can you do anything with clingfilm instead of throwing it away?

Clingfilm has various alternative uses in addition to food storage. For example, once the product has been used, you could use it to protect any items from getting damaged during storage. Furthemore, you can also wrap fruits and vegetables in clingfilm to give them a longer life.

What are the costs associated with recycling and disposing of clingfilm?

If you are producing large volumes of clingfilm waste, it’s important that you consider more sustainable alternatives – and do not throw it away alongside the rest of your general waste. For example, you could take these products directly to a recycling facility or arrange for the waste to be collected on your behalf. At BusinessWaste, we can help you get a better handle over all of your waste – cutting down the associated costs accordingly. For example, we can start by providing you with free access to the appropriate bins and containers to store the waste before collection.

Facts about clingfilm

How much clingfilm is there?

According to a recent report from Keep Britain Tidy, around 1.2 billion metres of clingfilm are used across the UK each year.

How many are in the landfill?

As the recycling process can be complex, the vast majority of clingfilm is sent to landfill sites.

Furthemore, it’s currently estimated that 79% of plastic waste products end up in landfill sites or the ocean.

Facts about clingfilm.

Clingfilm accounts for around 3% of plastic packaging waste produced in the UK.
As clingfilm biodegrades, it produces large volumes of toxic chemicals, which can cause significant damage to the environment.

Where can you take these items to recycle/dispose of them for free?

If you are looking for a better way to dispose of your clingfilm, you may be able to take the waste to local recycling centres, where they will be then transferred to the appropriate waste disposal facilities. However, you must do your research ahead of time as some companies cannot handle PCV and LDPE waste.

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