Recycling plastic

All types of plastic bottles can be recycled in your kerbside recycling bin - this includes drink bottles, shampoo bottles and cleaning product bottles – but it would help us if you could remove the lids first.

All other types of plastic packaging CANNOT currently be recycled in your recycling bin but can be placed in your general waste bin for disposal.

Check out our A-Z recycling guide for more details on what can and cannot be recycled.

Watch the video for helpful guidance on what plastic can go into your recycling bin.


Why can't I recycle all plastic items?

Certain plastics such as yoghurt pots, margarine tubs and food trays cannot be recycled in Southampton.

Dry mixed recycling collected in Southampton is sorted at the Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs). This facility sorts items into different streams and can sort plastic bottles from other materials when an infra-red light is used to identify and separate two types of plastic bottle. They are:

  • PET (indicated by a number 1 on the bottom of the bottle) 
  • HDPE (indicated by a number 2 on the bottom of the bottle)

Most plastic bottles are recyclable and these two types of polymers above make up the vast majority of this stream of plastic, including milk, soft drink, cosmetic and cleaning product bottles.

Plastic pots, tubs and trays (PTT) are made up of a wider variety of polymers including PET, PVC, PS, PP and LDPE. Our MRF’s aren’t equipped to successfully sort these types of polymers, so we CANNOT accept these for recycling in Southampton. Even those made of PET or HDPE are usually a lower quality and/or are mixed with another polymer.

  • Did you know that most of the plastic bottles that are recycled end up being recycled into either jeans, outdoor furniture or new plastic bottles!

What about drink cartons? Why can't they be recycled?

Drink cartons have a foil lining and are coated in plastic and currently cannot be recycled in Southampton. They have to go into your waste bin.