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HLP Klearfold Creates a New Guide to Recycling Symbols Ahead of World Environment Day

Ahead of World Environment Day this Saturday (5th June) HLP Klearfold, the world's largest producer of innovative and environmentally friendly printed plastic/acetate packaging, has created a useful downloadable guide to the recycling symbols found on plastic packaging in the UK.

It comes after recent research by the company revealed that consumers across the UK want more advice and education around plastic packaging.

HLP Klearfold commissioned a report which used Comparative Linguistics Analysis (CLA) to help unpick the language, phraseology, topics and sentiment of millions of words of public conversations and content online.

The data found that people were 7.4 times more likely to reference the term ‘advice’ when commenting on plastic packaging in 2020 compared to in 2019 and 1.9 times more likely to reference the term ‘know’ (for example “just don’t know”) in commentary on plastic packaging over that same time frame.

The analysis also highlighted that people were uncertain about regulations on how things should be recycled (e.g. from local councils). With statements including “council advice is unclear” and “my present bugbear is the recycling advice on a lot of plastic packaging currently not recyclable”.

This new guide has been designed so consumers can easily identify the symbols, find out what they mean and discover whether products can be recycled or not.

Recycling symbols for plastics are divided into seven categories. Generally, the higher the number, the more difficult it is for the material to be recycled.

1. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
Common products: Single-use plastic water bottles, soft-drink bottles
Recyclability: Recyclable

2. High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Common products: Milk cartons and plastic bottle caps
Recyclability: Check local authority

3. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Common products: Cling film, plastic pipes, table protectors
Recyclability: Non-recyclable

4. Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
Common products: Bread bags, frozen food bags, squeezable bottles i.e hand cream tubes
Recyclability: Check local authority

5. Polypropylene (PP)
Common products: Packing tape, plastic straws, take away tubs
Recyclability: Check local authority

6. Polystyrene (PS)
Common products: CD cases, plastic forks, foamy takeaway packaging
Recyclability: Not recyclable

7. Other - Other types of plastics
Common products: Crisp packets, plastic coated wrapping paper, heavy duty electrical equipment
Recyclability: Not recyclable

Tim Caven, Sales and Marketing Director at HLP Klearfold, said: “We all know how important recycling is for the planet - it helps minimise waste and transforms old products into new packaging.

“The problem is that whilst most of us want to recycle as much as possible, it can be confusing to know what items are recyclable and what aren't.

“That’s why we’ve created this useful guide to help people better understand the recycling symbols found on plastic packaging.

“We need to remind people that items such as milk cartons and fizzy drink bottles should all be disposed of correctly in order to stop them being dumped into landfill sites.

“This means the plastic they are made from can be used again to make new products.”

Tim adds: “It’s great to see from our CLA findings that there is an increased interest in plastic and people are looking for advice and starting to have conversations about it.”

“We too think that more education is needed and that needs to come from manufacturers, brand owners and government policy.”

“It is clear that there needs to be clarity on recycling symbols and communication and we need to work on a unified recycling system.”

“HLP Klearfold is committed to supporting and encouraging people to recycle and we hope this guide will play a part in that.

“We want everyone to join us in the zero waste revolution.”

HLP Klearfold has also created a quiz to test how much people really know about recycling plastic. You can test your knowledge here.

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