Environment / recycling

Can an envelope with a plastic window be recycled?

By livvy drake, Friday Aug 10, 2018

With so many different packaging materials and combinations of materials entering the household, it is a minefield knowing how to dispose of them. So Gwen Frost, the Development & Sustainability Manager at Bristol Waste answered some questions from Bristol residents about those confusing items.

Where should the film covering grapes or strawberries go? 

These cannot be recycled in any of our collection systems. They have to be placed in the residual waste bin (the big black bin).

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Can cardboard boxes or envelopes with clear plastic view screens be recycled?

The card can be recycled, but the plastic will need to be removed.

For envelopes, the paper can be recycled – the plastic film in the window cannot be recycled but our material broker has agreed that envelopes are fine for recycling even with the windows, included with the paper. Jiffy bags/plastic bag envelopes can’t be recycled.

When looking at the numbers on the bottom of plastic containers which can be recycled? 

Bristol Waste collect 1-5 plastics in the recycling bin. 6-7 and PLA can’t be recycled. PLA can’t go in the food waste bin either.

Is there a problem if you mix compostable bioplastics, degradable plastics, and ordinary plastics into the same recycling stream? How are they all dealt with? Can your system identify non-plastic ones? 

Because bio-plastics are made from different materials they have different properties and can’t be blended with other plastics.

Our machines are unable to detect the difference between bio and oil-based plastics.

Plastics recycling at the Bristol Waste depot in Albert Road


Can I recycle plastic that has had meat in it?

If it’s coloured or clear plastic it can be recycled, we are unable to collect black plastic.

Why doesn’t Bristol take black and brown plastic but Gloucester does?

Due to the facilities that we have in Bristol, we are unable to receive black plastic. We also do not have an available market for black plastic, maybe Gloucester do or they accept a lower price for their plastic.


Do you need to wash jars before putting them in the recycling? Sometimes I wonder if I am taking away the positive recycling effect by doing it?

Yes, jars and food containers need to be washed/rinsed before being presented. In order to minimise the environmental impact of this, just rinse them in the end of the washing up water. The can also be reused for storage.

Jars are used for loose shopping at Zero Green in Bedminster

The plastic inserts in the neck of oil bottles to help with pouring them. Can we put them in recycling?

If they are plastic and in plastic bottles then it is fine. If they are in glass bottles, you could extract them and put in the plastic waste stream.

The metal curly wire covered in plastic from spiral bound notebooks can we recycle them? if so where?

These would be fine if inserted into a can or tin and contained, if it was not contained then it would tangle up in the machinery.

Why doesn’t Bristol have recycling bins across the city?
There are a number of recycling bins across the central area of the city, we have not rolled them out across the whole city.

How does the waste in the bins around Bristol get processed?

The residual waste in the litter bins gets treated the same as all our other general waste, which is a combination of mechanical biological treatment to extract any recyclables that are still clean enough for recycling, waste to energy and landfill.

This article is part of a six month series on waste, which investigates what is happening at a local and national level and where Bristol businesses and residents can get involved to make a change.

To find out more about recycling in Bristol visit: www.bristol247.com/lifestyle/environment/recycling-recovery-processes-bristol/

For tips about inspiring your household and increasing the amount you recycle, visit: www.bristol247.com/lifestyle/environment/tips-household-waste-recycling

If you are a business looking for tips to address your waste management, visit: www.bristol247.com/life style/environment/tackling- your-business-waste/

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