recycling logo plastic bottles

Packaging Plastic in a Circular Economy

“Society needs to stop thinking of plastic as ‘waste,’ but as a renewable resource that needs to be disposed of correctly”

Helen Jordan - British Plastics Federation

As a society, we are led to believe that plastic is waste and that we should avoid using it. But what is commonly missed is that not all plastics are bad. Polythene is actually 100% recyclable making it a really eco-friendly packaging solution. When disposed of correctly, it can be reused and recycled in different ways.

The problem is, as a global society we still haven’t yet reached a stage where we have a coherent and robust process for recycling or processing waste material.

The current disorganisation of recycling in society:

We are based in Oxfordshire (UK) and given the size of an average UK county, recycling should be fairly simple. However, the reality is, recycling in Oxfordshire can be quite confusing.

If you live in Didcot, Oxfordshire you will have the following bins provided by South Oxfordshire District Council:

  • Green wheelie bin - Recycling waste*
  • Back wheelie bin - Non-recycling (landfill) waste
  • Brown wheelie bin - Garden waste

However, if you live in or around Oxford the following bins will be provided by Oxford City Council:

  • Blue wheelie bin - Recycling*
  • Green wheelie bin - Non-recycling (landfill) waste
  • Brown wheelie bin - Garden waste

And if you live in Witney, Oxfordshire, the following bins will be provided by West Oxfordshire District Council:

  • Blue lidded, black wheelie bin - Recycling
  • Black box - Recycling
  • Light grey or black wheelie bin - Non-recycling (landfill) waste
  • Green lidded, dark grey or black wheelie bin - Garden waste

* Just to add to the confusion, different counties have different rules about what they can or cannot accept for recycling

So you can see the challenge. If we’re currently at a stage where we don’t even have a simple, uniform colour coding system for three different types of bins, we have a long way to go to ensure we’re making the process as quick and easy as possible for consumers and companies alike.

Stage one of making recycling easier? Let’s agree on 3-4 bin colours which are universal across the country, or better still, globally.

How do we improve our use of plastics?

Thankfully there are a number of touchpoints within a closed-loop recycling system where we can all make a difference.

The basic ethos of reducing environmental impact within our society follows three simple steps.

  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle

When it comes to a closed-loop system for the manufacturing, use and recycling of plastics, a similar cycle can be used:

Step 1: Eliminate.

As a society, we must work towards eliminating all problematic and unnecessary plastic items. There are multiple ways to achieve this. For example, supermarkets are increasingly removing or reducing plastics from packaging such as the plastic ties which secure children's toys in place, or placing fresh fruit in open containers rather than vacuum-packaging.

In a similar vein, switching to reusable solutions can increase the amount of usage we receive from a single product. For example, we provide reusable pallet covers which can be used over and over again.

Step 2: Innovate.

One of the problems the industry has is that not all materials can currently be easily recycled, especially when certain additives have been added. In some cases, these require special processing, which means it’s often cheaper and easier for companies to send their waste to landfill. As a society and as an industry, we need to make it cheaper and easier for companies and consumers alike to recycle more items, more easily.

Innovation also allows us to find new ways to create products. In the case of polythene products we can now manufacture polythene film using plant-based materials such as sugar cane. Our IP Plant product is 100% recyclable, carbon-neutral and PAS2050 certified making it a great choice as a sustainable packaging material.

Another important innovation is the ability for us to make stronger materials whilst also using less raw materials.

Step 3: Circulate.

This means materials constantly flow around a ‘closed loop’ system, rather than being single-use and then discarded.

Because so many plastics are able to be recycled and are manufactured with that in mind, the problem is not the material itself, but people not having the knowledge of how and where to recycle their plastic, particularly when it comes to large quantities. As WRAP’s Peter Skelton puts it, “There is no bad material, just inappropriate application.”

Making the choice to use reusable plastic where possible is an essential first step in using less plastic and using it efficiently.
Source recycling services such as Recycled Plastics UK Ltd to ensure that you are able to recycle your plastic in the most efficient way.

5 benefits of using polythene packaging

Polythene packaging offers a number of benefits that play an important part in a more sustainable and economic way of life.

  • Reduced weight, increased fuel economy
  • Reduced packaging
  • Lower impact than paper
  • Energy savings
  • Strength and durability

Energy from plastic and polythene waste

According to the British Plastics Federation,

Plastics can be recycled at the end of use, typically for a maximum of six times. If it does not make economic or environmental sense to recycle, used plastics should go to Energy from Waste to provide much-needed power.

Used plastics have a higher calorific value than coal. This means they have value as a potential source of energy. When it cannot be economically or environmentally recycled, then it should go to energy from waste incineration to provide home-grown energy and avoid expensive imports.

Eco-friendly plastic alternatives

With modern technology improving all the time, we are now able to use greener packaging solutions that utilise sustainable plastic alternatives to help reduce environmental impact.
IP Plant is a bio-based material made from sugarcane making this product 100% recyclable and carbon neutral. This material can be used for a variety of products such as

To find out more about different types of sustainable plastic alternatives, check out our greener solutions page

Industrial Polythene Ltd

Unit 2 Stanley Court.
Richard Jones Road,
OX29 0TB

Copyright © Industrial Polythene Ltd 2024. All Rights Reserved.
Website Design & Development Beyond Your Brand.
This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Read our Privacy Policy to find out more.