Recycling plastics

Recycling plastics

There has been a lot in the news recently about plastic and the impact it has on the environment. Not just in terms of how it is made, but how it is disposed of.

Plastics are made from oil, a fossil fuel that will one day run out. It is important to make use of materials like plastics that can be recycled and re-used, rather than continually using the fossil fuels used to make them in the first place.

Plastic products also do not rot away easily and they can stay in the environment for decades. You may have seen documentaries about all the plastic in the world's oceans or just found really old plastic items lurking in hedgerows and on roadsides. These items are hazardous to wildlife and are unsightly. People should not drop litter at all regardless of the circumstances.

Ideally we should try and use less plastic overall. But we should also be making sure that we correctly recycle as much plastic as possible.

Did you know you can recycle all these kinds of plastic?


We have increased the types of plastic items you can recycle in your blue bin, so you can now recycle all these things:

  • yoghurt pots
  • margarine tubs
  • vegetable punnets
  • processed food trays, deli food trays
  • plastic milk or drinks bottles
  • chocolate tubs and biscuit tubs
  • plastic ice cream tubs
  • plastic trays from chocolate boxes and biscuit boxes

The key thing to remember is black plastic, like some microwave meal trays or meat trays, is not suitable for recycling . You also cannot recycle plastic films and labels.

How can you recycle items that cannot go in your blue bin?

There are a number of alternatives to make sure you recycle as much as possible.

  • Recycling via Terracycle. This organisation offers recycling programmes funded by brands, manufacturers, and retailers around the world to help collect  hard-to-recycle waste. This is brand and location specific, with businesses and organisations signing up to offer a collection point for things like make up, toothpaste tubes and crisp packets. This is a regional service so you will need to see what is specifically available in our area. Please note this is an external website that is not affiliated with Newcastle City Council and we are not responsible for their web content.

  •  Through "purchase locations." Some shops will take back your packaging or they provide special bins where you can deposit items. For example some DIY shops have bins where you take back old light bulbs and batteries. Some cosmetic shops will take back used pots, tubs and bottles. Some supermarkets will take back used carrier bags. RecycleNow has a handy tool on their website where you can find local places to deposit items.

  • Some items can be taken to our Household Waste Recycling Centres.

Have more questions about recycling plastic?

Why can't we just ban all plastic packaging? Why can't we just use glass or paper instead? What about bio-plastics? Are companies doing enough? - Sustainability experts WRAP's Clear on Plastic campaign can help answer your questions.

Find out more at

Did you know?

There are seven main types of plastic that you use around your home.  These items may have  identification numbers on them. These numbers, in a triangle with arrows, are called their 'plastic resin codes'. These are often stamped on plastic packaging and products. Have a look at the bottom of your cream cheese tubs or yoghurt pots, or on soft drink bottle labels. You should see the numbers there.

Not all of these numbers mean that the item can be recycled, they just help to identify what kind of plastic it is. You also need to be careful as not all packaging has exactly the same labels.

In Newcastle you can recycle plastic items displaying numbers 1, 2 and 5.

The important thing to remember is that just because there is a number, that does not mean it can be recycled.

If you want more information about these 'plastic resin codes' please view our useful guide.

Related Pages

Need more information?

If you are ever not sure about what can and cannot go in any of your bins, please contact us. Just phone 0191 2787878 and ask for "Your Local Services." Our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help.

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