It’s clear that recycling has come a long way, yet we can still become puzzled when it comes to food packaging. Recycling your cardboard cereal boxes is easy but when it comes to the plastic bag containing your cereal, your confidence may wane.
The recycle symbol on food packaging
The best place to start is to look out for the recycle symbol on food packaging. There are a few variations of the recycle symbol so we’ll break down what each one means:
- Recycle – This is applied to packaging that is collected by 75% or more of local authorities in the UK.
- Recycle | Rinse – You must make sure that you have removed any food residue from the packaging before it hits the recycling bin. This prevents the food from contaminating other materials.
- Recycle | Rinse | Lid on – Bottle lids under 40mm in diameter are too small to be picked up for recycling. Replace the lid on the bottle to make sure that it’s captured and recycled.
- Don’t recycle | Remove sleeve/film – There should be clear instructions on how to remove the film on food packaging; there is often a perforated strip on the film for ease of use.
Remember to check with your local council if you’re unsure about whether you have recyclable food packaging. Just because you can’t see a recycling label doesn’t always mean that you can’t recycle it – the material just might not be widely recyclable yet.
Recyclable food packaging
A recent survey found that 56% of households dispose of recyclable materials in general rubbish. And four out of five UK households put items in their recycling bins that aren’t collected locally – with plastic film and wrapping being one of the main culprits. So we’ll fill you in on the recyclable packaging materials for food and drink.
- Food and drink cans
- Plastic bottles
- Cardboard tubes and boxes
- Glass bottles and jars
- Plastic tubs, pots and trays
- Foil trays
Cannot be recycled
- Polystyrene packaging
It is so important to make sure that you sort your recycling correctly. If you don’t separate your glass from your tins, you could contaminate other materials and damage machinery, which slows down the recycling process.
Can you recycle plastic food packaging?
Recycling plastic is still a tricky topic and it’s especially hard to get your head around all the different types of plastic film. A lot of local councils won’t collect plastic film, however, many supermarkets will take your old carrier bags.
Types of plastic film accepted for recycling
- Carrier bags
- Bread bags
- Plastic bags from breakfast cereals
- Plastic wrapped from multi-packs of cans and plastic bottles
- Freezer bags
Types of plastic film not accepted for recycling
- Crisp packets
- Food and drink pouches
- Film lids from food trays
- Cling film
- Any non-Polyethylene film (e.g. PP, PVC)
Read our blog to learn more about recycling plastic.
Can you recycle pizza boxes?
No, you cannot recycle pizza boxes. The paper/cardboard becomes contaminated with oil from the pizza. You may think that a bit of contamination won’t do any harm, but it can ruin a new product – meaning that the resources used to recycle in the first place are wasted.
As the paper is smeared with oil, the paper fibres struggle to be separated from the oil during the pulping process. As the paper is mixed with water in a churner to create new paper, the new paper will have oil splotches – and so will have to be scrapped!
Why recycle metal packaging?
Of course, it’s important to recycle wherever you can. It’s easy to sort cardboard sleeves and paper receipts, but rinsing out metal cans just seems too much hassle – and it stops us from recycling them. Yet recycling this material will help out our planet the most.
Although we call them tin cans, the packaging of most canned food and drink is made from aluminium. Recycling aluminium uses up to 95% less energy than producing it. This is an astonishing energy saving. Better still, aluminium can be reprocessed again and again without losing its quality. So if you choose to start recycling your food packaging today, make sure you don’t skip the metal cans. You don’t even need to bother removing the label – it’s easy!
Recyclable packaging materials for food
If you’re a brand looking to make a positive change by incorporating recyclable food packaging into your product ranges, Tyler Packaging can help. We specialise in sustainable packaging solutions made from paper and plastic, suitable for human food, pet food, garden & leisure and industrial products.