More on Plastic Waste

Nobody who watches TV or listens to the News can be unaware of the crisis we face as a result of landfill sites full to bursting with our plastic waste.

Sadly, much of the stuff sent to landfill sites could be recycled but the question for most of us is – what can I (what can’t I) recycle?

People lead busy lives so this article is designed to help sort the good from the bad with a few tips along the way to make it easier to minimise your plastic waste at home.

After a couple of months of research into how I could minimise my own household waste I eventually got to speak to The Waste Promotions Officer for Bucks which was a real eye opener.

Here are his top tips-

  1. Always carry your own shopping bags. A cotton bag can normally be used for 260 shopping trips ( as opposed to a one -use plastic bag.).
  2. Don’t accept plastic bags from department stores and other shops. You are just doing their advertising for them and you are left with the waste. They will get the message and change to paper-bags eventually.
  3. Reuse any plastic bags you already have and always keep some in the car or in your pocket.
  4. Don’t be too concerned with trying to decipher the symbols on food wrappers. There are much simpler ways to sort your waste. *More of that later.*
  5. Buy your fruit and vegetables loose, or if you don’t like that idea, take some little bags with you.
  6. Reuse as much as possible. Tinfoil trays can be used dozens of times, so can soup pots.
  7. If you have a coffee maker such as Tassimo you can take the capsules to a Terracycle centre although you will need a significant amount to make it worthwhile. Google your nearest centre.

** According to the Waste Promotions Officer ordinary householders should not spend half their shopping time trying to decipher the symbols on food packaging. Better to abide by the general tips below.

So what is good plastic and what is bad?


All plastic pots, trays and bottles. Even your kitchen and bathroom products. (Surprise?) Rinse them though.

You do not even have to take the tops off your plastic bottles.

It all goes in your recycle bin.


Tin foil – clean.

Food trays- such as some fruit and veg are packaged in.

Yogurt pots.

Cardboard and plastic soup cartons.

Plastic milk bottles.

Glass bottles (not broken glass).


Any thin film that springs back when you scrunch it.

(So, the vegetables that you buy which sit on a tray which is then covered with film – the tray is good, the film is bad.)

Plastic shopping bags. So bad.

Cling film.

Tissues, nappies and facial wipes. Another surprise to me but really bad.


Household cleaning sponges.

I found the half hour I spent talking to Andrew hugely helpful and also reassuring. We sorted through a mountain of my saved-up rubbish putting green or red dots on it as appropriate.

I was surprised by how much more I could be putting in my recycling bin and also picked up some really helpful information as follows:

If you are unsure about any material as you hover over your green bin, try going to the recycling4bucks website and there you will find something called WASTE WIZARD which will tell you exactly what you are dealing with.

Landfill sites are now called ‘Energy from waste sites’ and are no longer the mountains of plastic we imagine.

Bucks CC has a much more efficient way of dealing with bad waste these days and (according to the expert) energy which is created from the burning of waste provides energy for 40,000 homes every day. That’s progress!

So, sign up to petitions, let your voice be heard and let us try to resolve the problems we have caused through ignorance and carelessness so that our grandchildren don’t have to.

Michael Gove has introduced charges on plastic and glass bottles. At last someone is listening.

Barbara McGillivray