Plastic Recycling - SORTED!

Plastic recycling banner with three types of plastic

Last year in Leeds we recycled almost 4,500 tonnes of plastic – that’s the weight of over 30 blue whales!

With the average household throwing away over 40kg of plastic in their black bin each year, there is plenty more that can be recycled.

It can be confusing knowing which of the most commonly used plastics can be recycled, but in Leeds it’s as easy as 1, 2, 4!

Many of the everyday products we use have a small numbered triangle printed underneath. Plastic types 1, 2 and 4 include fizzy drink, water, milk, shampoo and bleach bottles, as well as bread and carrier bags – all of which can be recycled in your green bin or bag.

Yes please - green bin

✅ Plastic types 1 (PET), 2 (HDPE) and 4 (LDPE) – look for the triangle underneath
✅ Drinks bottles
✅ Food containers e.g. fruit, vegetable and meat trays
✅ Cooking oil bottles
✅ Milk containers
✅ Skincare/soap bottles
✅ Bleach and washing up liquid bottles
✅ Carrier bags
✅ Bread bags
✅ Toilet and kitchen roll wrappers
✅ Bubble wrap
✅ Stretchy fresh or frozen fruit and vegetable bags

No thanks - black bin

❌ Cartons (Tetra Paks)
❌ Margarine tubs
❌ Yoghurt pots
❌ Black plastic
❌ Crisp packets
❌ Cling film
❌ Film lids from fruit trays
❌ Plastic types 3 (PVC/V), 5 (PP), 6 (PS) and 7 (other plastics)

Plastic toys in good condition can be taken to your local charity shop.

For a handy printable guide download our plastic recycling leaflet (PDF 629KB).

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Frequently asked questions



Why can’t all plastic types go in my green bin?Why can’t all plastic types go in my green bin?<div class="ExternalClassCAEBD46519AF4731997E1564B737C5D6"><p>The plastics we collect are dictated by the market demand among the material re-processors.</p><p>The market demand for plastics is strongest for types 1, 2 and 4 in our region but very limited for other types.</p><p>As such type 5 plastics are not routinely recycled by all local authorities.<br></p> <p>Black plastic is problematic when items are sorted at the materials recycling facility (MRF), as the infra-red technology is unable to identify it against the black background of the conveyor belt.</p><p>We are reviewing the city's waste strategy and modelling different methods, of which plastic recycling is one element. Our draft strategy will be ready for public consultation in the new year.</p></div>
Do I need to ‘wash and squash’?Do I need to ‘wash and squash’?<div class="ExternalClass2DBE1518648E4D3E8ECEED20DCDAC1DA"><p>Please give plastic drink and milk bottles a quick rinse out before placing in your green bin or bag to avoid contamination.</p><p>Squashing them will give you extra space in your bin.</p> <p>Please ensure your recyclable items are empty and dry. If your recycling gets wet, the paper and cardboard collected from green bins will become soggy and cannot be recycled.</p><p>You don’t need to rinse out bleach or cleaning product bottles – once empty they can be recycled in your green bin or bag with their lid on.</p></div>
Can I leave caps/lids/triggers on?Can I leave caps/lids/triggers on?<div class="ExternalClass4434A5B9F7284FA8AE1934621917AD22"><p>Yes – they will get recycled along with the bottles.<br></p></div>
What could my plastic bottle be recycled into?What could my plastic bottle be recycled into?<div class="ExternalClass65B6E5AF55174B5995B410B6DEBB7A1E"><p>Plastic bottles that were used for drinks can be remade again as a drinks bottle or, alternatively, remade into something completely different such as a children’s toy or football shirt. Other bottles such as shower gels or fabric conditioners will not be recycled into drinks bottles but could be reborn as a picnic bench or a chair. </p></div>
Can cartons (Tetra Pak) and paper cups be recycled?Can cartons (Tetra Pak) and paper cups be recycled?<div class="ExternalClassAE08ADCB1FF647FFA2E5AC43F6D9CD36"><p>Food and beverage cartons are used to carry products such as milk, soft drinks, fruit juices, soups etc. Paper cups for hot and cold drinks are used in high street coffee shops, fast food outlets and supermarkets. These cartons and paper cups are lined with several layers of polyethylene (plastic) and in some long life cartons, a thin layer of aluminium. Because of this they are not suitable for recycling along with normal cardboard in green bins/bags.</p><p>There are six sites in Leeds where you can take your cartons and hot drinks paper cups for recycling:</p><ul class="list list-bullet"> <li>Sainsburys White Rose Centre</li><li>Owlcotes Shopping Centre</li><li>Wetherby (Thorpe Arch) Recycling Site</li><li>Yeadon (Milners Road) Recycling Site</li><li>Meanwood Road Recycling Site</li><li>Kirkstall Road Recycling Site</li></ul><p> The fibre from the cartons is recycled in to coreboard which is then converted into industrial tubes and cores. The plastic is recycled into new polymer products such as children’s play mats and the aluminium is used in products such as breeze blocks.</p></div>