Soft or flexible plastics are items that can easily be scrunched in your hand, such as plastic wrap.
Soft Plastics includes:Plastic Bags Plastic Film Shrink Wrap
Find a recycler
Soft plastics have traditionally been difficult to recycle, due to limitations with sorting, cleaning and collecting systems. But new technology and infrastructure is enabling more opportunities for these materials to be recycled, preventing this resource from going to landfill where it can persist for up to 1,000 years. Manufacturing plastics from recycled materials also uses less energy than is required to make virgin plastic products from fossil fuels, which is a big saving for the environment.
There are a growing number of commercial facilities available to process this material across a variety of industries. Contact recyclers to check that they recycle the type and amount of soft plastic you want to dispose of. For further advice on the key questions to ask a recycler, use the Choosing the Right Recycler Checklist.
What Happens When It's Recycled?
Soft plastics can be collected, compressed and baled on site or once transported to a central facility. You can find on site compacting and baling equipment to make recycling easier and cheaper on the Recycling Equipment Catalogue.
- Wet Processing: The film is shredded to make it more manageable, then reground and washed. Water is used to break down paper labels, loosen dirt and remove other forms of contamination. The clean, ground film is then melted and extruded to filter out any remaining impurities. The resulting pellets can then be used in the manufacturing of new plastic products.
- Dry Processing: In this process uncontaminated film is shredded and ground without water and then extruded into pellets.
More Info & Sources
How to Reduce and Recycle Plastics at Work – a free guide to keep plastics in use and out of landfill
Signage and posters - free bin signage to download for the workplace
Recycling Equipment Catalogue - baling, compacting, shredding, sorting and other equipment to make recycling easier and cheaper for businesses.