Plastics bottles and containers (pots, tubs and trays)

  • Plastic Bottles and Containers

    From April 1st 2015, residents in West Sussex can recycle plastic bottles and containers.

Yes please

Milk & drink bottles

Bathroom bottles

Laundry/detergent bottles & tubs

Washing up liquid bottles

Yoghurt, cream & soup pots

Ice cream & margarine tubs

Cosmetic pots & tubs

Food & ready meal trays

Fruit & vegetable punnets

Plastic container lids (about the size of a coffee jar lid or larger)

No thanks:

Plastic film

Plastic bags/sacks

Expanded polystyrene

Plastic toys

Plant pots and seed trays

Plastic furniture

Coat hangers

Coffee pods

Plastic bottle tops (anything smaller than the size of a jam jar lid)

Remember ALL Recycling MUST be CLEAN, DRY and LOOSE

Plastics recycling FAQs

What plastics can I recycle in West Sussex?

Residents in West Sussex can recycle plastic bottles and containers.  Plastics are polymers, chains of molecules produced by smaller molecules called monomers. There are many different types of plastics depending on their molecular make up and shape. These plastics can be recycled and made into new products such as fleeces, pillows or new plastic bottles.

Does it matter what colour plastic bottle and containers I put in my recycling bin/box?

No, the colour of your plastic bottles and containers does not matter; it should be clean, dry and loose. No plastic bags and bottle tops, if in doubt leave it out.


What plastics can I put in my recycling bin?

In West Sussex, we only recycle plastic bottles and containers.

Why can't I recycle other plastic items like buckets, furniture and toys?

After your recycling has been sorted at the MRF, the materials are delivered to manufacturers to be recycled into new goods.

End-user markets for other types of plastics are limited and whilst the market situation may slowly be changing and a few plastic sorters are accepting other types of plastic, most reprocessors are still only able to recycle plastic bottles and containers.

In West Sussex we want to be sure there are secure end-use markets available for the plastics we collect, preferably in the UK, and that we can be certain they will be recycled. So for now our message is simple, we only collect plastic bottles and containers.

In partnership with Viridor, we continue to keep the markets for all recycling under review.

Why can't I recycle plant pots and seed trays?

End-use markets are limited and often plant pots were made from different types of plastic, as we couldn't be certain plant pots would be recycled we have chosen not to collect this material via your recycling bin.

We continue to monitor with interest the developments in plastic plant pot production, the retailers commitment to switching and the trials for plant pot recycling that are being conducted. 

Depending on the outcomes of these trials and our own trials we may look to include this material stream in the future. Some garden centres will accept them back for reuse. 

Should I remove my plastic bottle top before putting the bottle in my recycling bin? 

Yes, please remove the tops and trigger spray tops where you can before putting your plastic bottle in your recycling bin. If tops are left on the bottle, this can cause problems when the MRF sorts and separates your recycling. Plastic bottle tops and trigger spray tops should be placed in your rubbish bin; we CANNOT recycle plastic bottle top as they are too small for the MRF to sort mechanically. 

However, if you cannot take the tops of, please empty the bottle as much as possible and place it in the recycling bin. 

Some local groups and charities will collect milk bottle tops.

Can I recycle plastic lids?

We CANNOT recycle plastic bottle tops as they are often too small for the MRF to sort mechanically, but we can accept smaller metal bottle lids, any plastic lid that is jam jar sized or larger, so for example coffee jar lids, ice cream tub lids or margarine tub lids can be put in your recycling bin.

Don't forget all foil/metal bottle lids can be placed in your recycling bin. 

Can I recycle Deodorant Roll-on?

Yes, please put in your kerbside recycling bin.

Do I need to wash out my plastic bottles and containers?

Yes, after using your plastic bottle and containers, it should be rinsed out in used washing-up water to remove any liquid and food residue still in the bottle and container. As well as providing a clean material for plastic recyclers you will also help to prevent food contamination on other recyclables such as paper and card, which would make them unsuitable for recycling.

Can’t I recycle non-bottle shaped items like margarine tubs, yoghurt pots, food trays etc?

Yes, these items (PP and PS) are now suitable for recycling but must be clean, dry and loose; free from contaminated food debris.

Where do my plastic bottles and containers I send for recycling end up?

After the contents of your recycling bin/box are collected from the kerbside the material is sorted at a Materials Recovery Facility into the separate material streams. Plastic bottles and containers are then sent off either to be:

Reformed — whereby plastic is melted down and reformed into new material e.g. fibres for fleeces, pillows or new plastic bottles.

Reprocessed — whereby more brittle plastics are transformed into new plastic products such as recycled plastic furniture.

Plastics can be recycled into all kinds of materials, including polyethylene bin liners and carrier bags; PVC sewer pipes, flooring and window frames; building insulation board; fencing and garden furniture; water butts and composters; anoraks and fleeces; fibre filling for sleeping bags and duvets.

I’ve seen television programmes where waste is illegally exported, ending up in foreign landfill sites. Can you reassure me that West Sussex does not do this?

The exporting of waste materials is controlled by strict legislation and enforced by the Environment Agency. West Sussex does export some plastics for recycling as this route provides good value and a sustainable outlet for the material. All exports of recyclate from West Sussex comply with all relevant legislation.

The materials that are exported are sent as clean, sorted ’single stream’ materials. This means they do not require additional sorting and are sold for reprocessing into new products in the same way as ’virgin’ plastics.

Why can't I put plastic bags or plastic film in my recycling bin?

The only plastic you can put in your recycling bin is plastic bottles and containers. Plastic bags and film such as cling film, salad bags, cereal bags and bubble wrap CANNOT be recycled at the MRF due to the automated sorting machinery.

The best solution is to not use plastic bags for shopping and instead use reusable fabric bags, or ‘bags for life’. Some supermarkets have recycling points for plastic bags.

Should I put my recycling in plastic bags before putting them in my recycling bin?

No. Please do not put your recycling in plastic bags before putting them in your recycling bin. The MRF is unable to tear open plastic bags. Please place your recycling in your bin: clean, dry and loose (not in bags or boxes).

I've noticed numbers and symbols on the plastic items; does this mean they can be recycled?

No. These numbers, symbols or sometimes letter abbreviations, will just tell you what type of plastic the item is made from. Unfortunately they do not serve as reliable indicators to show if the plastic item can be recycled or not.

Remember: In West Sussex we can only recycle plastic bottles and containers.

Can I put my bleach bottles in my recycling bin?

Yes. Please rinse these out first and try to get them as empty as possible.

I have heard you can't recycle black plastic?

In West Sussex we have access to specialised sorting facilities that are able to sort black plastic, which allows us to collect any colour plastic bottle or container such as yoghurt pots, margarine tubs or food trays regardless of their colour, just pop them in your recycling bin. Even though you may hear about what is acceptable and not acceptable to recycle in the national press, always refer to local guidance as this will be the most up to date and correct information.

Can I recycle my cosmetic bottles?

Yes. Please remove as much of the contents as possible from any cosmetic tubs or bottles, if you can remove the pump mechanism please do and place this in your rubbish bin. If this is not possible, please put the entire empty bottle into your recycling bin.

What can I do with bioplastics and compostable plastics?

In West Sussex our compost facilities are outdoor sites which produce quality compost to the BSI standard PAS100, any plastic packaging, even that which claims to be compostable could ruin the quality of compost produced and put back to the land.

Our facilities would not be able to comply with Animal By-Product Regulations and are not certified to accept food waste for composting. This means that even compostable packaging that has contained food or liquid would not be allowed at any of our compost facilities.

For these reasons do not place bioplastic material in your garden waste recycling bin or your normal recycling bin as our specialised sorting machinery doesn’t recognise this material either.

Please place bioplastic material in your rubbish bin.

Can I recycle coffee pods?

Due to the mixed materials used in coffee pods, their size and the difficulty of cleaning them, we are unable to accept these in your recycling bin. Some manufacturers offer a takeback service, so it may be worth checking their website.

Did you know?

The energy saved by recycling one plastic drink bottle will power a computer for 25 minutes. 

Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning in an incinerator.

Plastic carrier bags can be returned to some supermarket for recycling.

Recyclable materials should be placed in your recycling bin loose not in plastic bags.

It takes 25 two litre plastic bottles to make an adult fleece jacket.