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The secret life of plastics: revealed



Brits are binning 15 million plastic bottles every single day, despite the fact they can be transformed, through recycling, into a range of surprising items. To tackle this, Pledge 4 Plastics – a national initiative aiming to boost plastics recycling – has released a short animated video revealing the ‘secret lives’ of plastics after being recycled.

The Secret Life of Recycled Plastics

Alongside plastic bottles, the animation places a strong emphasis on plastic tubs, pots and trays – only 30 per cent of which are recycled from UK households each year.

The animation shows a family recycling everyday plastic items as they go about their day, with the items making unexpected transformations. Dad starts his recycling journey in the bathroom, where a shampoo bottle transforms into a plastic chair.

Pledge 4 Plastics has also put forward its top five recycling facts:

1) It costs up to £78 million to dispose of the plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays not collected for recycling from UK households

2) Less than 60 per cent of plastic bottles and 30 per cent of plastic pots, tubs and trays are collected for recycling from households in the UK

3) 36 million plastic bottles are used by UK households in the UK every day – 15 million are not recycled

4) The average UK household uses around 500 plastic bottles per year but only recycles just over half of them

5) All types of plastic bottles can be recycled, including those used for juice, water, fizzy drinks, squash, sauces, cooking oils, washing up liquid, shampoo and conditioner, shower gel, garden products and car products

Pledge 4 Plastics is led by RECOUP, the member-based plastics recycling charity. Stuart Foster, CEO of RECOUP, said: “It’s common knowledge that you can, and should, recycle plastic bottles used for water, fizzy drinks and juice. Our insights, however, indicate that when it comes to plastic bottles for shampoo, household cleaners and bleach, cooking oil, table sauces, moisturiser and garden & car products, recycling levels are much lower. This drops further when it comes to things like butter tubs, fruit punnets and yoghurt pots.

“The aim of this video is to educate people in a really digestible format, showing examples of what kinds of plastics can be recycled – and, importantly, the diverse range of things they could become afterwards. We hope this surprising information will encourage people to share the video and, in turn, recycle more of their household plastics.

“Of course, your plastic bottles, trays, tubs and pots could simply become more plastic bottles, trays, tubs and pots – but they can also become anything from clothing and toys to building materials, such as fencing and piping.”

Jonathan Porritt, environmentalist and writer said: “These transformative examples show the wide variety of possibilities surrounding how recycled plastic can touch so many areas of our lives, without us even knowing about it.

“What an amazing material – plastic packaging coming back as your favourite football club’s shirt, your child’s toy, and even as parts of your car. Not to forget that it can be used in building products, paint pots … the list is almost endless! Recycling plastic really does work, and the recyclers want more of your plastics – just make sure you follow your Council’s instructions about what their facilities can accept for recycling.

Other plastic household items are reborn throughout the video including a butter tub turning into a table, a milk bottle becoming a toy rocket and a fruit punnet morphing into kitchen utensils.

Picture: Bottled Water by Steven Depolo via Flickr

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