Why only plastic bottles in the kerbside service

People are often surprised that plastic presents challenges for recycling, but it does.

Low quality plastic, like yoghurt pots, margarine tubs and meat trays, have far more limited recycling options than the kind of high quality plastic used for plastic bottles, so, as it can’t be turned into much, re-processors don’t generally want it.

It’s very bulky stuff, so takes a lot of vehicle capacity to carry and a lot of space to store.

It’s difficult to sort into different types (particularly black plastic).

On top of that, food packaging is often “contaminated” with food residue or film, which might cause a problem as it goes through the recycling system.

Because of these problems our current collection service, which is now a few years old, was designed to focus on collecting plastic bottles only (clean, easy to identify and sort, and good quality).

Like many other people in Somerset we are concerned that this potentially useful resource is going to waste and we want to do more.  In recent years technology to identify and separate plastic by type has made great leaps forward and now the potential market for mixed plastics is starting to open up, so we have made the commitment to find a way to collect more.

Recycle More is the result of that commitment and will be phased in beginning in 2020, when mixed plastics will be added to kerbside collections.  It requires a new fleet of recycling vehicles, with more capacity for plastic, along with new depot infrastructure, so will take some time to organise.  Not only will Recycle More add a wider range of plastics to your collections but it will bring carton recycling (another difficult product to recycle due to the mix of materials used to make each carton), small electricals and possibly more.

We support and appreciate your desire to do more.  As Somerset’s End Use Register shows, recycling works and you can be sure every item we collect for recycling gets recycled.  Recycle More will bring more plastic to kerbside collections and, when that happens, you can be sure that will get recycled too.


Tops are often a different type of plastic to the bottle and, also, can cause problems when baling plastic bottles, as some bottles are so strong that with tops on they cannot easily be flattened, even in an industrial baler.

Charity fundraisers able to collect or deliver large quantities of milk bottle tops – washed clean and free of any paper, rubber or foil inserts or labels – can contact recycling firm GHS.

Even when different containers are labelled as made from the same type of plastic, the grade may be different and the two cannot be recycled together or easily sorted. This situation is further complicated because even what might appear to be the same packaging can be made from different materials.
Unfortunately, some recycling symbols on plastics do not provide a guide to whether they can be recycled, just to the type of plastic. These symbols are a frequent cause of confusion for consumers.
There are around 50 types of plastics, from perspex to nylon, with six most widely used in packaging, including PET – polyethylene terephthalate; HDPE – high density polyethylene; LDPE – low density polyethylene; PVC – polyvinyl chloride; PP – polypropylene; and PS – polystyrene.
• SOURCE: WRAP 2016 – Plastics market situation report (Spring 2016) (7.80MB)