Plastic milk bottle recycling

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plastic milk bottles - wasteNearly 99% of UK households regularly buy milk. It’s estimated that each household consumes 70 litres every year – that’s 1.4 litres each day.

It’s no secret that milk is important to us as a country but, even as the country shifts towards a growing trend in non-dairy and non-cow milk, it’s clear that the milk bottles are still piling up.

Cow’s milk in the UK goes by a colour scheme you may have noticed in supermarkets. Blue means full-fat, green means semi-skimmed (or raw milk), red means skimmed, and gold means Jersey and Guernsey milk.

The milk sold in supermarkets tends to be packaged in plastic bottles you’re probably familiar with. This, unfortunately, is the worst container for the environment. Unlike delivered milk which comes in reusable glass bottles, the plastic bottles from supermarkets and chain retailers need to be carefully recycled and collected by a trusted plastic waste collection service to prevent harmful damage to the environment.

It can be daunting to remember how to recycle plastic milk bottles and thousands of consumers in the UK are starting to turn back to milk bottle delivery services to be kinder to the environment. However, before you make up your mind, we are an expert professional waste company that fully understand what products are used and how best to recycle them. We’ve put together this guide about how to recycle your plastic milk bottles safely.

How are plastic milk bottles made?

Recycled pellets of plastic are blended with virgin material (non-recycled material) and blow-moulded into the shape of a milk bottle. When the warm, pliable plastic hits the cool walls of the mould, it sets in shape.

These are then each filled with milk, packaged, labelled, and sent out to supermarkets and retailers.

What is high-density polyethylene (HDPE)?

Plastic milk bottles are made from a material called high-density polyethylene (HDPE). Its plastic code can be found on the base of any plastic milk bottle and will look like a recycling triangle with the number 2 inside it and often the letters “HDPE” below it.

HDPE is used for its strong and lightweight properties, meaning it can contain milk without splitting but also not contribute unnecessary weight. Unlike glass, HDPE milk bottles aren’t as heavy and won’t shatter if dropped.

It is also, importantly, food-grade plastic. This means that it’s safe for storing perishable goods.

How do you dispose of plastic milk bottles?

1. Clean out the plastic milk bottle

This is an important element to remember to remove potential contamination of other materials in your recycling – such as paper and card. It also reduces odours in and around your bin as well as pests such as flies from taking root in your bins and house.

Cleaning out a bottle is nice and straightforward. Simply empty out any excess milk, squirt in a bit of washing up liquid or soap, fill about a third with clean water, put the lid back on and shake. Then empty the bottle again and rinse with fresh, clean water.

2. Put it in your Mixed Recycling bin

The most vital thing is to make sure you put the plastic bottle in the right recycling bin. If an unacceptable item is found in the mixed recycling bin, it risks the entire load and can have devastating effects on the environment.

How are the bottles recycled?

Waste service collections like ours collect recycling from households and businesses. They then transport it to a transfer station which is a central location for all waste collection vehicles to drop off their recycling loads.

Here, these materials are weighed and sent to processing facilities. Plastic milk bottles are sent to a materials recycling facility (MRF) where they will go through mechanical and manual sorting to remove any non-recyclable materials that have accidentally ended up in the load.p>

The plastic milk bottles will then be flattened and baled before transport to a polymer recycling facility. Then, they are industrially cleaned and turned back into the plastic pellets they began as.

How can I start recycling my plastic milk bottles?

You should research what your local council currently recycles. You could also find a reputable plastic recycling or waste collection company that offers professional and flexible waste collections.

We offer free recycling bins and can collect either daily, weekly, or fortnightly – at your discretion. Our bins come in a variety of sizes to suit all of your needs: 1100, 660, 360, 240, and 120.

FAQs and Facts

Can I recycle white milk bottles?

Unfortunately, white milk bottles cannot be recycled back into milk bottles due to their colouring. They can however still be recycled into other valuable products so you should still recycle them.

Do I need to remove the cap and label?

No need to do this. Labels are designed to fall away easily during the recycling process and the caps can also be recycled back into other products.

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A guide to plastic waste disposal
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