Much as we would like to collect everything that has a “recyclable” label on it we can’t.

Crisp packets and plastic bags are a good example. Collectively known as plastic film, there is currently no large scale facility in the UK that can recycle this material.

It’s a real problem for the plastic reprocessing companies we send your bottles and tubs to because it clogs up their machinery.

These companies chop the plastic into small pieces and then separate them by colour. Plastic film clogs up both the chopping mechanism and the colour separation equipment, meaning the rest of the plastic can’t be recycled.

We prefer to be able to tell you where your plastic goes than say we will take everything regardless of where it ends up. All the plastic we collect in Newport goes to UK re-processors.

Some stuff, however, simply can’t be recycled – polystyrene is the best example. Horrible stuff, sorry, there is nothing we can do about it. It can be a real problem when mixed in with cardboard. 

And some packaging is too much of a mixture.  Coffee pods, for example – a mix of metal and plastic. To put it bluntly – these pods are an environmental disaster – perhaps be best example of over-packaging you will find in most homes. The same issue applies to medicine blister packs – a mix of plastic and metal that’s almost impossible to separate.

Cat litter is another problem. Even though some brands are made from wood based products, it’s not the litter, it’s the cat poo that is the problem. Any kind of pet waste must never be put in with food recycling – that’s really quite dangerous as the final product from food recycling (after extracting the methane to generate electricity) is fertilizer to go on crops.

Hard plastic is something else we get asked about a lot – children’s toys, plant post etc. We can’t pick these up as there is simply not enough space in our trucks. When we collect your recycling each truck has to return to base as soon as any one compartment is full. We could not go on to the next house in your street and collect only the cardboard but leave the plastic because the truck is already full of plastic. This is why we don’t collect large hard plastic items.

Our A-Z of recycling page covers common household items.  Thanks for recycling


  1. Miqdad Al-Nuaimi

    Thank you for this explanation. Having watched the BBC film last week on the exported plastic and film material to Malaysia, where it is causing real environmental and public health problems, I thought we shod be honest. Not to pretend we are recycling (in Order to reach targets) only for stuff to be shipped out of the country. We must deal with this stuff ourselves. As a country we must provide the processing of such hard materials, or controlled incineration.
    Can you please confirm that the materials you mentioned in your note, should be placed in the green landfill site container?

    • Waste Savers

      Hi Miqdad, Yes, the items mentioned above that cannot be recycled can go in the general waste wheelie bin. If people can make it to a supermarket or similar for plastic bags, crisp packet etc then take them there but it’s not a particular problem if they end up in the general waste bin. Our guide to what goes where covers most items.
      The “where it goes” page on our website refers to Newport as a whole – including commercial waste etc, much of which we don’t get involved in. All the plastic we collect on the kerbside is sent to re-processers here in the UK.

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About 9 months ago