Master the Art: How to Recycle Plastic at Home – A Comprehensive Guide

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If you’re reading this, you’ve taken the first step towards a greener future. Today, we’ll tackle the all-important question of “how to recycle plastic at home”. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Understanding Plastics

First things first, let’s get to know our ‘enemy’ – plastics. Now, plastics aren’t all bad. They’re durable, lightweight, and oh-so-versatile. But, their strength is also their weakness when it comes to plastic waste management.

how to recycle plastic at home

Did you know that plastics come in all shapes and sizes? We call these different forms plastic variants or plastic types. Each type has unique properties that determine how it should be reused or recycled. Pretty interesting, right?

But here’s the catch. Not all plastics are created equal. Some are recyclable plastics and some are non-recyclable plastics. That’s where our trusty sidekick, the plastic resin codes, come into play. These little numbers, tucked inside a recycling symbol, tell us what kind of plastic we’re dealing with.

For instance, a plastic resin code ‘1’ denotes PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) – commonly found in your soda bottles and food packaging. PET is widely accepted in kerbside collections and recycling centres. On the other hand, ‘7’ represents a mix of different plastics, many of which are non-recyclable materials.

Seems complicated? Don’t sweat it! Once you get the hang of it, it’s as easy as pie. The key is to start small and build up your recycling game step by step. After all, every little bit helps when it comes to saving our planet.

Stay tuned as we’ll delve deeper into the steps of recycling plastics at home in the upcoming sections. Together, we can make a difference!

Decoding Plastic Resin Codes

plastic waste resin codes

Have you ever noticed little numbers, usually from 1 to 7, inside the recycling symbol on plastic items? Those are called plastic resin codes, and they’re your handy guide to understanding the type of plastic you’re dealing with. Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. PET or PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate): Commonly found in soda bottles and food packaging. It’s recyclable, and most recycling centres will happily take it off your hands.
  2. HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene): This is used in milk jugs, detergent bottles, and some grocery bags. It’s also recyclable, and a favourite among recycling facilities.
  3. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): This sturdy plastic is often used in pipes, toys, and blister packaging. Be cautious, though, as it’s not typically recyclable at home.
  4. LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene): You’ll find LDPE in plastic shopping bags and cling films. It can be recycled, but not all curbside programs accept it. Many grocery stores, however, have collection bins for these.
  5. PP (Polypropylene): PP appears in things like yogurt containers, bottle caps, and straws. It’s recyclable, but not all facilities accept it. Check with your local recycling centre first.
  6. PS (Polystyrene): Also known as Styrofoam, PS is found in disposable plates, egg cartons, and packing peanuts. It’s not usually recyclable at home, and can be harmful to the environment.
  7. Other (various plastic types): This is a mixed bag, often representing plastics like polycarbonate and bioplastics. Recycling options for ‘7’ plastics are limited, so it’s best to use these sparingly.

Remember, the key to effective plastic recycling is understanding what you’re dealing with. With these codes at your fingertips, you’re one step closer to being a home recycling pro. Go, you!

Steps to Recycle Plastics at Home

You’re all set to become a superhero in your own home. No, you don’t need a cape or superpowers; your secret weapon is your commitment to the environment. Ready to learn how to recycle plastics at home? Let’s get started.

Collection and Sorting

Every great journey begins with a single step, and our recycling journey starts with collection. Start saving your plastic waste. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how much plastic gets tossed out without a second thought. Let’s change that.

Tip: Keep a separate bin for plastics in your kitchen, bathroom, or garage. This makes collection a breeze, and it’s a visual reminder of your commitment to recycle.

Once you’ve gathered a fair amount of plastic waste, it’s time to sort it out. Remember those plastic resin codes we talked about? This is where they come into play. Group your plastics by their resin codes. You’ll be helping out your local recycling facility and boosting the efficiency of the plastic waste management process.


After sorting comes cleaning, an often overlooked but crucial step. Why? Well, leftover food or liquid can contaminate other recyclables, and nobody wants that. Plus, clean recyclables are more valuable, improving the economics of recycling.

So, how do you clean your plastic waste? Simple. Rinse out containers with water to get rid of food residue or any other contaminants. If necessary, use a little dish soap. Be thorough but also mindful of water usage; we’re trying to be eco-friendly after all.


Now that our plastics are clean and shiny, we need to prepare them for recycling. This process can vary depending on your local recycling rules. In general, it involves breaking down larger items into smaller, manageable pieces. For instance, you might need to crush plastic bottles to save space or remove plastic caps from containers.

Breaking down your plastics not only makes transportation easier but also optimises the recycling process. Larger pieces can jam machinery at recycling facilities, causing delays and extra costs. Your efforts at this stage can go a long way in making the recycling process smoother and more efficient.

Drop-Off or Pick-Up

Bravo! Your plastics are now sorted, cleaned, and prepped. The next step? Getting them to a recycling facility. Depending on where you live, you might have a few options.

If your community offers kerbside collections for recyclables, you’re in luck. You just need to put your recyclables in the designated bin, and they’ll be picked up on a specified day. Easy peasy!

If kerbside collection isn’t available, don’t worry. You can drop off your recyclables at a local recycling centre. These facilities are equipped to handle various types of recyclables, including different types of plastics. Websites like Earth911 can help you find the nearest recycling facility.

Consideration for Non-Recyclable Plastics

Now, what about those non-recyclable plastics? You know, the ones with the resin code ‘7

‘ or those pesky plastic bags that seem to multiply like rabbits? They need a different approach.

First, try to reduce your use of non-recyclable plastics. This might mean opting for products with less packaging or choosing items packaged in recyclable materials. Remember, the best waste is the waste we don’t create.

If you do end up with non-recyclable plastics, consider repurposing them. Plastic containers can be great for storage or DIY projects. Plastic bags can line small trash cans or pick up after pets. Get creative!

For plastics that can’t be recycled or reused, check your local waste management guidelines. They might have special drop-off locations or programs for these materials. If not, they should be disposed of in your regular trash.

There you have it – your comprehensive guide to recycling plastics at home. It might seem a little overwhelming at first, but don’t worry. Every step you take, no matter how small, brings us closer to a cleaner, greener planet. So, go forth and recycle! Your journey starts now.

Beyond Recycling: Reducing and Reusing Plastics

Recycling is a significant step towards a greener planet, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. To truly make an impact, we need to think beyond recycling and embrace the other two R’s: reducing and reusing. Why? Because the less plastic we use and the more we reuse, the less we need to recycle. It’s a win-win!

Reducing Plastic Use

Reducing our plastic use might seem daunting at first, but it’s simpler than you think. It’s all about making mindful choices and taking baby steps. Remember, every bit counts.

Start by assessing your plastic use. How many plastic items do you buy in a week? Could you replace any of these with non-plastic alternatives? For instance, opt for a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water, or bring your own shopping bags instead of using the store’s plastic bags. Little changes like these can make a big difference.

Next, consider buying in bulk. Not only does it save money, but it also reduces the amount of plastic packaging. And when you do need to buy packaged items, look for ones with recyclable packaging.

Lastly, say no to single-use plastics whenever you can. These are items like straws, cutlery, and coffee cups that get used once and then thrown away. Opt for reusable alternatives or simply skip them if you don’t need them.

Reusing Plastics

Now, what about reusing plastics? Well, it’s all about getting creative and seeing the potential in things.

For example, plastic containers can make great storage solutions. Use them to organise your craft supplies, store leftovers, or keep your garage in order. Plastic bags can line small trash cans, protect your plants from frost, or even be knitted into reusable shopping bags.

And don’t forget about upcycling – transforming waste into something useful or beautiful. Plastic bottles can become bird feeders, garden sprinklers, or cute planters. The possibilities are endless!


Innovative Home Projects Using Recycled Plastics

Speaking of upcycling, let’s dive into some fun and creative home projects using recycled plastics. Not only are these projects a great way to reuse your plastic waste, but they’re also a fun way to spend an afternoon. So, grab your craft supplies and let’s get started.

DIY Plastic Bottle Planters

First up, we have plastic bottle planters. They’re cute, eco-friendly, and perfect for your small plants or herbs. Here’s how you make them:

  1. Gather your materials: You’ll need a plastic bottle (a 2-litre soda bottle works great), a pair of scissors, some paint, and a paintbrush.
  2. Cut the bottle: Cut the bottom third of the bottle. This will be your planter. Remember, always be careful when using scissors.
  3. Decorate: This is where you can get creative. Paint your planter in a colour of your choice, and add some designs or patterns if you like. Let it dry completely.
  4. Add your plant: Fill your new planter with potting soil and add your plant. Voila, you have a beautiful, recycled planter!

DIY Plastic Bag Tote

Next, let’s transform those old plastic bags into a chic, reusable tote. It’s a bit more involved, but the result is worth it. Here’s the step-by-step guide:

  1. Collect your materials: You’ll need about 50-100 plastic grocery bags (depending on their size), a pair of scissors, and an iron.
  2. Make “plarn” (plastic yarn): Cut the bags into strips about 2 inches wide. Loop these strips together to create a long string of plarn. Roll this into a ball as you go, just like you would with regular yarn.
  3. Knit or crochet: Use this plarn just like you would use regular yarn. Knit or crochet it into a bag shape. If you don’t know how to knit or crochet, there are plenty of tutorials online to guide you.
  4. Finish your tote: Once you have your bag shape, you can add handles by either knitting/crocheting them separately and attaching them or by leaving extra plarn at the top to serve as handles. And just like that, you have a reusable tote made from recycled plastic bags!

Remember, safety first! Always be careful when using sharp objects like scissors, and make sure to use the iron responsibly. And, most importantly, have fun. These projects are a great way to express your creativity, all while doing something good for our planet.

Recycling, reducing, and reusing plastics might seem like a small act, but it can have a big impact. Every piece of plastic we keep out of our oceans and landfills helps protect our beautiful planet for future generations. So, let’s embrace these eco-friendly habits and make a difference, one piece of plastic at a time.


There you have it – your comprehensive guide to recycling plastics at home. It’s a journey, and every small step you take is a giant leap for our planet. The less plastic we use, the more we reuse, and the smarter we recycle, the brighter our future will be. Remember, it’s not just about plastic. We can apply these principles to all aspects of our lives.

If you’ve found this guide helpful and are ready to take your eco-friendly lifestyle to the next level, why not explore some of our other articles? Learn how to recycle common household items, or find out how to dispose of batteries responsibly. Discover the best methods to dispose of cooking oil, garden waste, and even an old mattress.

For our coffee lovers, we’ve got a special guide on how to recycle Nespresso pods. And for those home renovation enthusiasts, don’t miss out on our articles on how to dispose of paint and how to recycle your electricals. There’s a whole world of recycling out there to explore!

Each of us has the power to make a difference. Let’s use that power wisely and make our world a cleaner, greener place. Thank you for joining us on this journey. Here’s to a sustainable future!

How to Recycle Plastics at Home: FAQ / TL;DR

1. Can I recycle plastic cutlery and plates?

Most plastic cutlery and plates are made from non-recyclable plastics due to their food contamination and plastic type. It’s best to avoid using these or opt for reusable alternatives.

2. Can I recycle plastic toys?

Plastic toys can often be difficult to recycle due to the different types of materials used. Consider donating them to a charity or a second-hand store instead.

3. Are plastic milk bottles recyclable?

Yes, plastic milk bottles are usually made from HDPE, a type of plastic that is widely accepted at recycling facilities. Remember to clean them out before recycling.

4. Can I recycle plastic food wrappers?

Most plastic food wrappers are non-recyclable due to their thin and flexible nature. It’s best to reduce the usage of these or look for recyclable or compostable alternatives.

5. Can I recycle plastic without the recycling symbol?

It’s difficult to determine the type of plastic without the recycling symbol, so it’s generally not recommended to recycle these. When in doubt, it’s better to throw it out to avoid contaminating the recycling stream.

6. Are biodegradable or compostable plastics better?

While they may seem like a better option, biodegradable or compostable plastics require specific conditions to break down and may not be accepted in regular recycling or composting facilities.

7. Can I recycle plastic bags in my curbside recycling bin?

Most curbside recycling programs do not accept plastic bags as they can get tangled in the sorting machines. However, many grocery stores have dedicated bins for recycling plastic bags.

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