Plastic waste

We are all aware of the impact plastic is having on the environment. From the devastating images brought to light by Blue Planet II, to the banning of mixed plastic for recycling in China.

We need to dispose of the plastics we do use in the right place to avoid it harming the environment. But even better - what can we do to reduce the amount of plastic in our lives?

With 79% of plastic waste ever created still in the environment, we are becoming a plastic planet. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans then fish.

While recycling plastic when possible is good for the environment as it goes on to have a second life, reducing the amount of plastic we use is even better for the environment.

Reduce and re-use your plastic waste

There are many products already available that everyone could use to reduce plastic use. For example, glass bottles, reusable cups, paper bags, cloth nappies, natural toothbrushes, wooden hangers and Beeswax wraps.

See the top 10 plastic swaps:

  1. Reusable drinks bottle

  2. Reusable shopping bag rather than carrier bag

  3. Reusable coffee cup (or drink in!)

  4. Beeswax wraps instead of cling film

  5. Bulk cook and freeze food in tubs rather than ready meal trays

  6. Reusable cloth bags instead of plastic bags for buying fruit and veg

  7. Metal or toughened glass cleanable straw rather than plastic (or say no!)

  8. Reusable tubs with lids instead of cling film

  9. Reusable razor instead of disposables

  10. Carry your own cutlery instead of accepting disposables

Top 10 Plastic Swaps picture details on website

Other easy tips to reduce your plastic use

re-usable nappies

Buy unpackaged fruit and other food when possible. Find other smart shopping tips (PDF, 1MB).

Try cloth nappies. Not only are these environmentally friendlier, they can also save you money and are less work than you would think. Visit our cloth nappy page for more details. 

Switching to other types of plastics – good or bad?

Degradable, bio-degradable, compostable plastic… what’s best? Well it’s complicated! 

Be wary about making the change to “bio” or “compostable” plastics. They might not necessarily provide the best solution for you unless you have the right disposal route.

  • Degradable plastic simply means it breaks into little pieces of plastic which can be very damaging to the environment. You cannot recycle degradable plastic, so you will need to put it in your rubbish bin.

  • Biodegradable plastic may be made from fossil fuels or renewable sources which breaks down in nature, but there is no timeframe for the decomposition to take place. Neither of these plastics are suitable for recycling or composting in Suffolk. You will need to put biodegradable plastic in your rubbish bin.

  • Compostable plastic can only be composted in your own garden at home in Suffolk (but may take some time to break down). You cannot put it in your garden waste collection. If you don't compost at home, dispose of it in your rubbish bin.

And if you can't reduce or re-use, remember to recycle

Listen up Suffolk... currently over 8,000 tonnes of easily recyclable plastic is thrown away in the general rubbish bin costing the taxpayer over £700,000 in disposal charges.

Plastics to put in your home recycling bin:

  • Plastic drinks bottles (Wash, squash and pop the bottle tops back on)
  • Washing and cleaning containers
  • Food trays (including black plastic trays)
  • Health and beauty containers (such as shampoo bottles)
  • Garden and garage containers (always check the label to make sure you dispose of hazardous waste responsibly)

Plastics to take to our recycling centres:

  • Hard plastic items from home (such as dustpans)
  • Hard plastic items from the garden (such as buckets and watering cans)
  • Hard plastic toys

You currently cannot recycle these plastics:

  • Polystyrene
  • Fruit nets
  • Pill pouches 
  • Blister packs
  • Crisp, sweet and biscuit wrappers*
  • Pet food pouches*
  • Carrier bags and plastic bags (though they may be accepted at some large supermarkets - please check beforehand)

*These items can be recycled through Terracycle's free recycling programmes. Visit their website for further information. 

For any other plastic questions please check our Plastic FAQs pdf or search our A - Z of Recycling