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Shropshire residents can put all plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays and lids, inlcuding things like yoghurt pots and food trays, cosmetic, kitchen, and drinks bottles in the fortnightly collection.
Derived from oil, - a finite resource, that has peaked in production, and now on the way down, a throw-away material - we often use plastic (ie packaging) for a very short amount of time before discarding. It remains in the environment for a very long time, (centuries?) creating litter, pollution and a danger of ingestion to animals and wildlife, as it breaks down into smaller and smaller particles. Check out the Great Pacific Garbage Patch online for an idea of the devastation caused in the world's oceans by discarded plastic. 6 times more plastic than plankton in that area!

The hidden dangers of plastics are well described at




These help cause the fatburgs, in the sewage system.  None are really biodegradeable, so best to bin them, and avoid using if possible.  They’ve been produced for 60 years, and made of a non-woven blend of natural and synthetic fibres, such as polypropylene.  The industry body Water UK say all wipes should be binned, and not labelled biodegradeable - for that process is too slow to be of use, so please don’t throw them in the loo. 



balloons and sky lanterns and glitter

Balloons, their strings and labels,  when let go of, fall back to earth and can be ingested by grazing animals, birds or marine creatures, so the Marine Conservation Society suggests we don't use balloons.  So-called biodegradeable ones may take 4 years to disapper - that's not very biodegradeable, and they could do damage til then.  And some scientists believe that the gas helium is too precious to be wasted in balloons.

Sky lanterns similarly cause fires and litter and sometimes havoc when they fall back to land. More and more councils are not allowing these to be let off on council land ,  has a few alternative ideas,

Glitter is made of micro-plastics, not yet banned, but some nurseries and schools have given up using them.  (Lush has non-plastic glitter in their products )(You can find biodegradeable glitter made from eucalyptus, look online, various companies).


Made of polythene - smallish amounts can be recycled with plastic bags in larger supermarkets, like Sainsbury and Morrisons.  Larger peices can be given away, or used to protect fragile plants, or to line greenhouses.

Contact Lenses

DO NOT throw into toilet or sink  (sewage works can't safely dispose, they will get shredded and end up in the sea).....recycle with the original packaging back to the place where bought, if possible.  Or bin them.

Shrewsbury Optometry in Dogpole, or Boots Opticians will safely recycle. ( See also



Try to choose containers that may be recyclable, with minimal packaging. e.g. glass perfume bottles can be recycled with jars and wine bottles, most plastic pots can be recycled in the plastic kerbside collection.  A wide range of soaps, of course, are sold in paper wrappers - easily recyclable.  See plastics section for details about how cosmetics and beauty products have tiny microbeads in their ingredients, which are causing havoc for marine and land life.  Their use will only be partially banned, so please investigate carefully these products. The Shrewsbury United Reformed Church will take certain cosmetic plastics for recycling,


crisp packaging

Crisp manufacturer Walkers are recycling any make of crisp package. Large amounts can be boxed and returned by their courier. Small amounts are collected at The United Reformed Church office, in centre of Gyratory traffic system by English Bridge (limited opening times). see 


keen to reduce single-use plastic, come monthly to Castlefields Community Hall, selling lots of plant-based and chemical-free products, like Faith in Nature and bio D washing products, and refilling your containers .


PLASTIC CLING FILM (and how to avoid)

- re-use ice cream and marg tubs etc to store food, instead of throwing them away

- re-use glass jars with lids or takeaway containers to store leftovers

- fabric, beeswax or silicone food covers are now available from many kitchenware retailers. Make out of your own fabrics.

- sandwiches in paper bags, or reuseable sandwich wraps

- bread and cakes can be stored in a clean tea towel

- most kitchens probably already have green alternatives to cling film


Don't use them, get another form of bag instead, that you can use over and over again, and not just once.  You can buy a long-life plastic bag from most supermarkets, who will replace it when it's worn out.  1.2 trillion plastic bags are produced annually, globally. Wildlife on land and sea ingest or get caught up in plastic and die horribly.

You can't put these bags out with the kerbside plastic collection, but some supermarkets (Sainsbury, Morrisons) will take all kinds of plastic bag/wrappers back, including stretchy plastics and bubble wrap.   Or give bags to market stallholds.  Battlefield HRC no longer collects them.

If you want to use biodegradable and compostable bags, liners and cutlery - all made from maize - try  or  Use with garden or kitchen waste, and put in green bin, dont put these to be recycled with real plastic bags, as it will degrade the plastic. 


See below for single-use plastic coffee/tea cups.  Save A Cup will supply and collect their plastic cups, (used for drinking water at vending machines), and then recyle them into other objects. Still only a once-used, your ceramic mug would be better.


Agri-cycle Shropshire - for plastic farm and agricultural waste -  collection and recycling of cartridges, bailer twine, used spiral shelters and guards for young trees .

Plastic Flower Pots

These, whatever colour, can't yet be recycled with plastics at your kerbside. But they can be re-used, when clean, by community groups, allotments, and schools that garden, so offer them if you can.

Dobbies are now taking responsibility for taking them back for recycling, ( to be re-made into plastic things), all colours, broken or intact, plus the plastic trays that contain pots.  They have a dedicated place within the garden area. Black Birches Garden Centre, of Hadnall, willingly receive plastic pots in good condition, for re-use.  Harley Bank Nursery will take back for re-use.  And now, B & Q willingly take them back, in their garden/plant section.

Use earthenware pots, or check out biodegradeable ones made of coir, bamboo or other peat-free materials..

plastic glitter

Glitter, made of  micro plastics is being banned from festivals and in some children's nurseries. There is a better alternative - bioglitter, made from cellulose from Eucalyptus trees, several makes.

Plastic Microbeads In Cosmetics - Try and Avoid

The good news - plastic microscopic beads  can no longer be manufactured to be used in cosmetics and personal care products in the UK, after a long-promised ban came into effect in Jan 2018.  A ban on sales followed in July.

The bad news - they are still allowed in various forms in other non-rinse-off cosmetics, such as suntan lotion, mascara, lipsticks and even some deodorants.  Check ingredients before buying.

Useful website -

Plastic Water and Juice Bottles

Plastic Bottles - these, often litter the countryside, and do not biodegrade.They can be easily recycled at kerbside collections.

TO AVOID once-used plastic water bottles -

- buy a glass or stainless-steel one

- get a good water filter (and recycle filters at Argos, Meole Brace)

- get rid of chlorine taste of water by refrigerating in a glass bottle with top left off and use within 2 days.  Most of the chlorine evaporates!

- when out, cafes will refill your water bottle if asked (eg Costa).  And there is often a jug of tap water, so help yourself.
A growing website, when you are out and about - can tell you the nearest water-filling location.
But it is a legal requirement to fill up on request.

  A good start is to get milk (and organic) delivered in reusable glass bottles.  Glass milk bottles are reused a minimum of 20 times and after than can still be recycled!

Wenlock Spring  or Fairbourne Spring Water, are the nearest source of local bottled water, and re-use the bottle. However, read this website for the dangers of over-using plastic bottles! and search for' reuse of plastic bottles'


Sainsbury will accept all types of plastic wrappings No.4 (LDPE) in their in-house plastic bag recycling scheme - wrappers from bakery goods, breakfast cereals, toilet rolls, and plastic bags from fruit, veg, bread, freezer bags, and  bubblewrap magazine and shrink wraps. .i.e  any plastic that can stretch a bit.

Plastics in Teabags


-  they are sealed with polypropylene - to maintain shape - but when composted or binned, they are releasing yet another tiny bit of un-biodegradeable plastic into  the earth, you can actually see a ghost-like shape left behind after the tea has composted!  Best to avoid, or bin the tea  bag, and compost the leaves.

- Japanese-style pyramid teabags are made of biodegradeable corn startch.

- The very best option is loose, organic and fairly-traded tea.

- the Co-op ,P.G.Tips and Clipper do sell plastic free. 



Collects worthwhile scrap and sorts and stores it in their shops, then sells it to members, who use it in art and craft activities to benefit the education of children. Scrappies also run workshops so children and adults can learn about recycling and reusing materials whilst creating with a local artist.


The use of a one-off card/plastic cup, containing a hot beverage -  is not sustainble - as that container that cannot be recycled or reused and the plastic component will be around in landfill for possibly centuries!.  The only sensible option is to sit in a cafe for 10 mins, or take your own re-usable container,  these can be purchased in pretty patterns all over Shrewsbury.  You can also ask for a price reduction for using your own container in a takeaway coffee shop, or station buffet.  

INSPIRATIONAL  --  CONCORD COLLEGE students use thermal mugs, as they have taken a stand against single-use paper/plastic coffee cups.  They have launched a thermal reusable mug which has proved very popular and is now used by staff and students through the college - they bought their own! They had been using around 3,500 paper cups per week, estimated at a weight of 1.4 tonnes of rubbish peryear!  And now - none! This is surely something that could be replicated at every workplace.

 Winchester University collected used chewing gum (made of plastic!), on campus, and upcycled these into coffee cups!

Smile Plastics

Smile Plastics make visually interesting  recycled plastic items for the architecture and design industry.


TerraCycle upcycles and recycles traditionally non-recycable waste packaging (including coffee packaging, biscuit wrappers, baby food pouches, baby wipes packaging, writing instruments and many more) into a large variety of consumer products. These products keep waste out of our landfills and contribute to a cleaner world.  See the Shrewsbury United Reformed Church (below) who will receive certain hard-to-recycle plastics.


These used to be made of paper - nowadays, and not many people realize this, they are coated with a toxic plastic, to thermally print,as opposed to using inks!  So, please bin them, don't compost or recycle them, and ideally don't even handle, but if you have to, wash the fibres off your skin.  And don't give them to little kids to play with!

United Reformed Church

Will accept SMALL HARD-TO-RECYCLE plastic items for recycling ;  Any biscuit and cake-bar and mini Cheddars wrappers. Any crisp bags. All toothpaste tubes, brushes, brush heads.  Many beauty products - packs, pumps,trigger sprays. Old plastic roll-on deodorant containers.  Face-washtubes.   Ink jet and toner Cartridges. 


Z - to Biodgrade, to degrade or to compost... an avid plastic recycler view

The following ,written by Colin Williamson (Smile Plastics) debates the issue;
In the 21st Century drive for sustainability, the concept of biodegradable plastics  seems fantastic. The iconic man-made product reverting to nature seems too good to be true. And, of course, like anything that seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Biodegradable plastics do exist, of course, made from agricultural materials or made by modifying conventional petrochemical based materials. Now, for the sake of simplicity I have ignored the degradable plastics based on oil, as they use more energy than normal products as well as exhibiting the other problems mentioned below. But, rest assured, any claims of biodegradable plastic eco-efficiency are based more on politics and economics than mathematics. So let’s look at the big picture.

Most scientists accept global warming is the biggest environmental threat to human life. We measure this by the carbon footprint over the lifecycle of a product or system. So, let’s consider the carbon footprint of some plastics products by comparing the lifecycle of a biodegradable plastic bag or bottle with one made from ‘traditional’ oil based plastics.
Oil is pumped from the ground, refined into plastic and made into a product. It uses energy to make the transformation of course and this can be added to the energy embedded in the oil itself.
Alternatively, corn is grown by a farmer who uses energy to drive his tractors and chemicals to spray the plants. After harvesting the corn is converted to a plastic product by an industrial process, which itself uses more energy.
We can calculate the total amount of energy expended in making a bottle or bag.
If the packaging is oil based it probably weighs less than the biodegradable alternative so an allowance has to be made for this. Few independent eco-audits have been conducted on biodegradable plastic products though, and we still have yet to discover the true eco-footprint made by agro-sourced plastics. Some bio-sourced plastics are based on a waste product from the agricultural industries, such as bagasse from sugarcane fibres, and claim a zero carbon footprint, others are made from foodstuffs.
When the packaging has fulfilled its primary function it becomes waste, and that’s where it gets interesting.
Most waste in the UK ends up in a landfill site, so let’s consider what happens once the stuff gets buried. Oil based plastics may take centuries to degrade but until then they stay inert, just like a lump of rock or stainless steel. In other words they have no further effect on the environment.
The biodegradable bag or bottle on the other hand starts to degrade relatively quickly (although nowhere near as quickly as the manufacturers claim – just try it if you don’t believe me). It biodegrades, not just to carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (as there is little oxygen in a landfill site), but to other chemicals that escape as complex molecules and gases, normally methane.
Methane is one of the powerful ‘global warming’ gases, about 24 times more damaging than CO2. Recent EU directives relating to landfill sites acknowledge this by limiting and restricting the amount of biodegradables (especially garden refuse) going to landfill. There are other significant issues with biodegradables in landfills including land instability and leachates into the water table.

So, which is better, a bottle in a landfill site that has no further influence on the environment, or one that biodegrades to a harmful global warming gas?

What about recycling?
And as we recycle more and more waste, including plastics bottles and bags, one of the well-established uses of old polyethylene bags and film is to be recycled in to black builders’ film to be used as damp-proofing.
Imagine what would happen if biodegradable bags get mixed into this recycling stream.
The recycler can’t differentiate between the biodegradable bag and the standard one so he makes and sells the sheets that then gets used under a
floor in a new building. This is the ideal situation for degradation to start and the film develops a hole and no longer is a water barrier, the house gets a damp patch and no-one knows why.
So the presence of biodegradable plastic carrier bags in the recycling waste stream is seriously impacting the recycling industry.
In some countries where biodegradable bottles have already been introduced, major problems are being encountered by the recyclers who have already taken billions of bottles out of the waste stream for recycling.
“Hang-on”, I hear you say, “these biodegradable bottles can be put in the green waste collection bins to be composted?!”
Well, yes, they can, but the guys doing the composting remove any plastic and discard it for landfill as they cannot differentiate biodegradable from traditional plastic.
Biodegradable plastics sound wonderful, but are largely a brilliant marketing concept. If landfilled they contribute greatly to global warming, if recycled they are a major hindrance to the existing recycling schemes we have battled so hard to encourage.
Biodegradable plastics will have their uses, of course, but only when their end uses are clearly identified. One is as the bags for local authorities to collect garden refuse for composting. Ordinary polythene bags are normally used, but as they don’t biodegrade, they have to be emptied of their contents, either by the collectors or at the composting facility. Biodegradable bags would be excellent for this application, able to be properly composted and unlikely to enter the recycling stream.
If you can think of any other suitable uses, please let me know, but until then: please don’t use them, don’t recycle them and don’t tell me how wonderful they are.

About the author: Colin Williamson is technical consultant at Smile Plastics, a dedicated plastics recycler.