How to recycle plastic fruit punnets and meat trays

Zero hero Claire (who lives in the area of Wokingham Borough Council) wrote “My local council is pretty minimalist when it comes to what we can recycle.

What I find most difficult is the plastic trays you get meat in and the plastic tubs you get fruit in.

Even when I get meat from my local farmer they use these plastic trays and I simply can’t find any information on the Internet on how I can recycle them anywhere. Please help!”

Claire isn’t the only one to struggle with this issue, Fiona wrote “I wish I could help Claire with her meat problem, it’s the same where I live.”

Info from the inside

Andrew wrote “Here in North East Lincolnshire we recycle such tubs in our kerbside collection as they are usually marked with the recycling triangle and the number 1 (PET) These are among the easiest to recycle (along with numbers 2 and 3) and form the basis of most local authority collections of plastics. The only problem we have is black trays which are rejected by the reprocessors as they adversely colour the recycled plastic.

We are aware however that some manufacturers are using plastics marked as 5 (PP) These are far harder to recycle, largely due to the prices paid by reprocessors. Current and anticipated legislation is forcing many local authorities to reconsider what they collect for recycling and they have to justify their actions. With the new “Make Waste Pay” initiative, recycling in Claire’s area should get better soon.”

Comprehensive recycling

Sandy shared “I can only say that Waveney District Council (Suffolk) does take these items for recycling. Wouldn’t it be good if all councils had a common and comprehensive recycling policy ? They seem to vary so much. ”


Helen said “if you’re buying from a farmer- could you reuse the package?”. Alyssa agreed “Try bringing them back to the farmer’s markets. Most farmers appreciate getting the containers back so that they can reuse them

Bring your own

Sarah, (who I assume buys from farm shops?) writes “Bring your own boxes, then no need to recycle or not!

Grow your own

Debbie wrote ” I collect them and do all my seedlings in them … could collect them n drop them by the gates of your local allotment with a note they are always useful for seedlings. “. Vicky shared ” I also use them to cover seedlings like a mini greenhouse.

Check local bring banks

Although Debbie can’t recycle these types of plastic at her kerbside, she writes “the recycling depot at the supermarket and local B&Q takes the same plastic as bottles including those trays. You might just have to drive down to one of those with a boot full

Shop local

Zoe wrote “Have you tried going to a local butchers or a market? Often these are good places to find unpackaged meat.” Samantha agrees, she writes “Thinking outside the box (no pun intended) you could just bring your own tupperwares for meats etc. Even better for the environment…And then you wouldn’t need to struggle with this recycling issue at all.

Get organised

Carla wrote “I am a crafter and use the berry boxes to organize supplies. I also use them in the bathroom and kitchen to organize. In fact these were one of my first aha items….i was throwing one of these out and I remembered I needed to buy some little boxes to organize embroidery yarn“. Tom uses these containers in his utility room.

Make a sacrifice

Annie shared “I’ve had to give up berries because I can’t find them unpackaged in Dublin. There are some farms around Ireland that do berries but they are too far for me to go. It’s a small sacrifice but I’m doing okay without! Instead I buy cherries and Clementines which I can get loose.”

Ask friends and neighbours

Good advice from Louise who suggests “Look at neighboring local authorities as they may take them just outside your area. If you cannot avoid using these containers then save them all up and stick them in a friends or family members bin who does have collection or take them to a recycling site in that local authority area. Make sure you combine the journey with jobs you would otherwise be doing and don’t make the journey especially. If you holiday/work away do research before you go so you as you maybe able to take some of these items with you.

Get crafty

Krista writes “It doesn’t solve the problem but here’s a way to upcycle them into shrinkie bracelets.”


What about you? How do you get past plastic meat or fruit packaging?

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Rachelle Strauss

1 Comment

  1. Chris on August 30, 2021 at 4:26 pm

    Why can’t all meat and fruit be packed in the same recyclable plastic? Surely all producers of such food are aware by now of the problems of using a variety of plastics.

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