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Plastic Recycling FAQs

Frequently asked questions about the changes to our plastic recycling


  • What are the changes to plastic recycling collections?

We’re making some changes to our plastic recycling in spring 2019. Listed below are some useful frequently asked questions with their responses to help you find out what these changes mean:

1. What are the changes to plastic recycling being introduced in Colchester?

Residents are now being asked to put any plastic bags, film or wrapping in their black bins/bags rather than their plastic recycling.

2. What plastic items can no longer be recycled?

Any plastic bags, film and wraps can no longer be recycled and should go in your black bin/bag for collection. Common examples of these items are listed below:

Plastic bags - common examples include:

  • Shopping carrier bags
  • Bread bags
  • Sandwich and freezer bags
  • Salad bags
  • Loose fruit and vegetable bags from retailers

Plastic film - common examples include:

  • Cling film
  • Thin film from the top of packaging on products like ready meals, meat slices, fruit punnets

Plastic wrapping - common examples include flexible wrapping from:

  • Kitchen rolls
  • Toilet rolls
  • Biscuit packets
  • Sweet and chocolate wrappers
  • Multiple cans and bottles
  • Multi-packs of crisps
  • Magazines/brochures etc sent in the post.

For a list of what plastic items can and cannot go in your plastic recycling collections in Colchester, please check what to put out on Green Week or your recycling calendar.

3. When will these changes come into effect?

Following the Council’s decision on 13 March 2019 not to accept these items for recycling anymore, these changes have now come into effect and we are sharing this change with the public.

4. Why is the Council changing the plastics items we can recycle?

There is now no demand for these particular types of plastic once they’re recycled, therefore these items will not be recycled by recycling plants for the foreseeable future. We know many residents spend time and effort sorting their recycling and it’s important that they’re aware these items are no longer recyclable.

This issue is not specific to Colchester and most other councils do not collect these materials for recycling.

5. Is this a temporary change?

These particular types of plastics are unlikely to be recyclable for the foreseeable future. If they were to ever become recyclable again then we would accept these for recycling again as we’re keen to reduce rubbish and recycle as much as possible.

6. What plastic items can I put in my recycling collection?

For a list of what plastic items can and cannot go in your plastic recycling collections in Colchester, please check what to put out on Green Week or your recycling calendar.

7. Will my black bag allowance go up as a result of this change?

No, the three 60 litre black bag limit for households will not be increased as a result of these changes. These plastic items are all thin and pliable and will not add any significant extra volume to household rubbish. Based on current collections, calculations show that the changes mean that on average households will have an extra 8 grams of material for each black bag/bin which is less than the weight of a tablespoon of sugar.

8. Does this change apply to flats with plastic recycling facilities as well as households?

Yes, the items that can and can’t be recycled are the same whatever type of property you live in, in the borough.

9. What happens to the plastics I recycle?

All of the plastic recycling we receive is sorted and processed locally before being reused and turned into new products. To find out what happens to all of the recycling we collect from households in the borough, please watch our You Tube videos.

10. What if I accidently include these plastics in my recycling from now on?

Clear plastic recycling bags containing any plastic bags, film or wrapping will still be collected, however these particular items will not be recycled and will be removed and sent to landfill or used as an energy fuel.

11. Are the clear plastic bags we use for recycling collections, recycled?

Yes, as the clear bags are used as containers for paper and card, plastics and textiles, they are split and separated at the start of the process and are all recycled.

12. What is Colchester Borough Council doing to address plastics supplied by manufacturers and retailers?

Many plastic bags, film and wraps are single-use plastics where more sustainable alternatives such as reusable bags and containers are available. Last year the Council launched its Colchester Plastic Pledge campaign to encourage residents and local businesses to be more plastic aware and commit to reducing their use/supply of single-use plastics which are damaging to the environment. The Council is continuing to actively reach out to and work with local organisations to encourage them to offer residents and their customers, reusable and more environmentally friendly alternatives to single-use plastics.

13. Can I take these items anywhere else to be recycled?

Some supermarkets provide collection points for customers to return plastic film and carrier bags for recycling. Further details are available on Recycle Now’s website.

You can also recycle a range of plastic items such as crisp packetsbiscuit wrappersbread bagsbaby food pouches and pet food pouches through Terracycle.  Check the Terracycle map for local collection points.

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