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Where can you recycle plastic packaging?

When it comes to plastic packaging, knowing what can and can’t be recycled can be frustrating and a little overwhelming. But there are simple solutions!

Above anything else, reducing, refusing and reusing is key to eliminating lots of unnecessary plastic from your home. But despite our best efforts (remember: you’re doing great!), avoiding all plastic can be difficult, and recycling also has a role to play in ensuring that we keep as much waste as possible out of the bin.

Did you know? Most packaging is, in fact, recyclable but it will need to be separated and sorted correctly as it is made from many types of materials. Some items can be recycled at home using Merton Council’s waste collection service but others will need to be taken to collection points.

To help us get to grips with this, Merton resident Alyson shares her top tips on what can be recycled and where you can do this locally...

1. The rule of thumb is - if it crinkles it cannot be recycled (e.g. flower bags and wrappers from bakeries with lots of small holes in them). Otherwise, some plastic packaging can be recycled at supermarket carrier bag collection points (more than people in general realise) – including bread bags, bags from breakfast cereal, frozen food bags, magazine wrappers, bubble wrap apparently (although if there is a good amount I always post on social media asking people if they want it).

2. Charity shops often take and reuse plastic carrier bags and I also often give them to a friend of mine who volunteers at a local food bank, as they always need them for putting the food items in. Work and Play Scrapstore on Blackshaw Road in Tooting take them too. They are a great place for recycling all sorts of items (including things like paint, as long as there is more than about 1 inch in the bottom!). They have a stock of plastic bags for people to take items home in.

3. Given that re-use is a preferable option, I also reuse bread bags, in place of ziplock bags – so I use them to go in the freezer and the fridge. Now that I get fewer carrier bags, I now also re-use other plastic bags (like breakfast cereal bags, the bags which toilet rolls come in) – I keep these and use them as bags.

4. Walkers® offers a free crisp packet recycling scheme, which accepts all brands. Find your nearest public drop-off location here.

5. If they are large pieces of plastic (like you get from dry cleaners) I give them to a friend of mine, who passes them onto the pottery/sculpture classes at local colleges. They use it to cover work in progress, to stop them from drying out and cracking.

6. You can make a type of yarn called plarn from the plastic. You can then crochet sleeping mats for the homeless, or even make bags out of the plarn (I have done this once – I had the idea of doing it and giving the bags to charity). Find out more here.

Blog by Alyson

Merton Resident


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