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Recycling Plastic Pots, Tubs and Trays: Your Questions Answered

Answers to some frequently asked questions about the new plastic recycling banks for pots, tubs and trays

When can I start recycling my plastic pots, tubs and trays?

The new plastic banks will be ready for use from Monday 29 March 2021.

These banks will be installed on a trial basis to see how much recycling is collected. Continuation of the trial will be dependent on how well the public use this new facility - we wish to ensure that contamination levels are kept low, and the continued availability of markets for these additional plastic waste types.


Can I recycle plastic bottle lids in the recycling banks?

Yes, plastic lids can be recycled in the recycling banks. Please remove the plastic lid from the bottle and loosely put them in the bank.


What happens to the plastic pots, tubs and trays collected from the recycling banks?

The plastic pots, tubs and trays will initially be taken to our Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at Padworth in West Berkshire. The plastic pots, tubs and trays will then be bulked together and then sent for processing at Veolia's Plastic Recovery Facility (PRF) in Rainham, East London.

At the PRF, the pots, tubs and trays will be sorted by type of plastic and colour. From there, some plastics will be sent on to Veolia's Dagenham, East London facility to make pellets which would then be used to manufacture items like new milk bottles.


Do the plastic pots, tubs and trays stay in the UK for recycling?

Our contractor Veolia uses UK reprocessing facilities where they are available.

Where they have to send plastic pots, tubs and trays to a non-UK reprocessing plant, Veolia follows a stringent duty of care audit process to ensure the collected plastics go to facilities that will recycle them into new plastic products. Any non-UK plastic reprocessors used will be within Europe and the majority of the facilities are owned by Veolia.

Each facility receiving plastics collected from West Berkshire will be audited by Veolia to ensure its processes are compliant with required regulatory standards.

If some collected plastic items cannot be recycled, eg due to having very low quality or high contamination levels, they will be sent to an energy from waste facility in the UK.


Will I be able to recycle my plastic pots, tubs and trays in my green kerbside recycling bag?

No. Please continue to recycle only plastic bottles in your green kerbside recycling bag.

The Council will continue to keep its recycling approach under active review but we cannot collect plastic pots, tubs and trays in the green recycling bags at this time.


Why are we starting to collect plastic pot, tubs and trays now?

Previously, there has not been a suitably robust market for recycling plastic pots and tubs within the UK. The Council is committed to only collecting recycling materials for which there is a proven market. 

This market-led approach has helped us to avoid a situation whereby materials collected for recycling have to be exported to countries which may not have suitable facilities or regulatory standards to avoid some materials leaking into the natural environment and oceans.

The availability of markets for recycling plastic pots, tubs and trays is slowly improving. This trial will help the Council to further explore the available market opportunities.


What should I do if a bank is already full when I arrive?

We will be monitoring the use of the banks and they will be emptied on a frequent basis, so hopefully you won't come across a full bank.

If a bank is full please don't leave any recyclables outside of the bank, take your recycling home and report the full bank to Customer Services: 


Is there any benefit to collecting and recycling these materials?

The collection and recycling of more plastic types, where the market exists, is expected to be beneficial for the environment. It will help the Council to achieve savings in carbon emissions compared to sending the materials to landfill or incineration facilities.

Recycling of these materials will also make a small contribution to the recycling performance achieved by the Council.


How will success be measured for this trial?

The Council will assess how well residents continue to engage with this new scheme and will actively monitor the quality of materials and the amount of contamination and non-target materials being presented in these banks.

Other measures of success include increased awareness of recycling opportunities within the Council and continued availability of markets for these additional plastic types in the UK (and Europe). The effectiveness of the trial will be evaluated after six months and a decision will be taken on whether or not to continue with the scheme.


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