Unsure what can and can’t be recycled? We’ll clear up the confusion!

plastic waste for recycling

According to research, Britons care more about plastic waste than Brexit! Yet despite us being moved by the Blue Planet effect and wanting to do our bit, millions of us are still unsure what we can and can’t recycle.

Top of the list of confusion were plastic, lightbulbs and crisp packets. One in 10 were unclear if glass or cardboard could be recycled. This means there could be valuable recyclable materials ending up in landfill.

Reasons people are confused, include lack of knowledge and lack of local facilities.

I’ve taken the top 10 items Brits are concerned about to see if there’s a simple solution for each:


Plastic is a massive and confusing subject that needs several blog posts of its own!  The easiest place to start, however, is with a call to your local council. Most will collect some types of plastic, such as milk or shampoo bottles. Others will collect yoghurt tubs and fruit punnets, it all depends on where you live.

Light bulbs

Incandescent bulbs cannot be recycled and have to be put in your waste bin. However CFLs and fluorescent bulbs can be recycled at your Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC). You can also find drop off points in DIY stores and other shops that sell replacement bulbs.

Crisp packets

Crisp packets have recently been accepted by Terracycle’s Crisp Packet Recycling Scheme. See if you can find a local collection point, or why not set up your own!


Most local authorities will collect mattresses from you if you organise a special collection. Prices vary from free to £75 depending on where you live. Do check with a charity first or offer on Freecycle, if your mattress is in good condition.

Fruit juice cartons

Check the Tetra Pak carton recycling locater to find your nearest drop off point. Some councils even collect from curbside.

Cooking oil

It’s really important not to pour cooking oil down the sink as it can cause blockages. Some HWRCs have a drop off point for cooking oil, which you’ll need to take in a sealed container.


Some councils collect from kerbside, but if you’re not one of the lucky ones, you’ll find collection points in local shops, supermarkets, and your local HWRC. Apart from car batteries, which should be taken to designated points, you can recycle all batteries from watches to laptops.

Car tyres

When you have new tyres fitted at a garage, they will dispose of them for you. If you change the tyres yourself, you can take the old ones to your HWRC. Some councils charge for this depending on how many you take.


Check to see if someone else can make use of your scrap wood through a local Facebook group or Freegle. Someone with a wood burner will often view your waste wood as free fuel! If not, most HWRCs will accept wood for recycling.


Metal can be a valuable material for recycling and most HWRCs have a scrap metal collection point. You may even find a local scrap metal merchant who will pay you for your items by weight.

If you’re having a big clearout at home, then hiring a skip can be a surprisingly eco friendly way to dispose of your stuff. If you choose an ethical supplier, with a waste carrier license and strict recycling policy, you can relax while they take care of the recycling for you.

Kevin Peterson, Managing Director of Reliable Skip Hire Southampton stated, “Waste removal is an area which we all encounter in our personal and professional lives. As an individual, you can make a big difference to the environment by ensuring you dispose of waste responsibly. Always choose an environmentally responsible skip hire company who properly sorts and divides up your skip waste, allowing as many of the materials as possible to be recycled. If you’re working on a large project which requires multiple skips, consider sorting your waste before it’s put in the skip. This can make it easier for waste transfer stations to sort it and ensure it goes to be recycled – it’s often cheaper too!”

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Rachelle Strauss

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