Dairy UK says over three quarters of adults in the country eat yoghurt. More than half of those do so at least twice a week, which amounts to a lot of plastic pots.
But can you recycle them?
The answer isn’t straightforward. All plastics, in theory, are recyclable, but it is not always technically or economically viable.
What are yoghurt pots made from?
Most yoghurt pots on the market are polystyrene. This is a type of plastic that isn’t recycled in the UK because it doesn’t have sufficient infrastructure to do so on a large – or local – scale.
There are several categories of plastic packaging, each marked with an easily recognisable recycling symbol that has a number inside, and letters below, to identify how recyclable it is. For example, polystyrene is ‘6’ and ‘PS.’
How do you recycle yoghurt pots?
Polystyrene isn’t recyclable as part of the regular kerbside collection by most local authorities at home addresses. However, some will still take it away for you.
The advice from Recycle for Greater Manchester (R4GM), which works with councils in our region to encourage residents and businesses to manage their waste responsibly, is to put empty plastic yoghurt pots in the general waste bin.
In places they are collected, should you clean yoghurt pots?
Yes, if at all possible.
A quick rinse of the plastic packaging – leftover washing up water does the job – reduces the risk that food residue will contaminate other recyclables.
You can usually leave the labels and lids on, but you should recycle cardboard or paper sleeves separately.
Is it possible to reuse yoghurt pots?
After cleaning, plastic containers like yoghurt pots can be used in dozens of alternative ways.
In the garden – depending on their size, of course – they can make ideal seed holders or bird feeders. Pots can also store art supplies such as crayons or pencils in schools.
Want more ideas for how to repurpose yoghurt containers? We love this blog post by CubeSmart for its innovative suggestions.
What is being done about so-called ‘problem plastics’ like polystyrene?
WRAP, an independent charity that promotes and encourages the use of sustainable resources, leads the UK Plastics Pact.
Launched in 2018, it is a progressive initiative that brings together businesses to tackle the problem of plastic waste. A year later, it published a list of single-use plastics – including polystyrene packaging – which its members wanted to remove from the shelves in shops by the end of 2020.
Although they have made progress, polystyrene remains an issue.
Danone has invested in new technologies to produce yoghurt pots from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or polypropylene (PP). Its new PET pots are recyclable, and the company continues to look at different solutions, including paper cups, plant-based cartons, and glass bottles.
Yeo Valley, another Pact member, sells its Super Thick yoghurt in pots that are made entirely from recycled plastic. However, there is still plenty of work to do.
Have any questions for us?
At Fresh Start, we understand that recycling or recovering all rubbish isn’t possible. Unfortunately, there is still general waste we can’t yet divert to recyclable streams. However, to help keep your business premises clean and tidy, we can provide your company with the appropriate container.
Whether you need wheelie bins, skips, front-end loaders, roll-on roll-offs, compactors or balers, we have the ideal waste storage solution.
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