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New recycling service FAQs

What is different about the new service?

We now collect pots, tubs and trays, as well as food and drink cartons and foil in addition to other items that we have been collecting directly from your kerbside collection. This means you can now put all of the new items in the same container alongside paper, cans, tins and plastic bottles.

Why have you introduced pots, tubs and trays, cartons and foil to the recycling service?

The new items will allow us to:

  • recycle more
  • divert more waste from landfill
  • operate a more effective service

Plastic pots, trays, tubs, foil or food and drink cartons are widely used in our households and their collection is a step forward in increasing the amount of waste we recycle.

What plastics can I recycle in the re3 area?

Residents of Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham can recycle plastic bottles and mixed plastic such as pots, tubs and trays.

What do you mean by mixed plastics?

The term mixed plastic refers to plastic pots, tubs and trays. Unfortunately it doesn’t apply for hard rigid plastics for example plant pots, toys or hosepipes.

We would always encourage residents to take any re-usable items like this to local charities or to the recycling centres in Bracknell or Reading, where they can be recycled.

Can you give us examples of new plastic items?

Examples of new plastic items include:

  • plastic food trays like fruit punnets or those used for meat or cakes
  • yoghurt, cream, soup and snack pots, for example instant noodles
  • cosmetic pots and tubs
  • plastic bottles with trigger handles, for example bathroom cleaner
  • ice cream and margarine tubs

Do I have to do anything to the new items before putting them in the recycling?

Please quickly rinse plastic pots, tubs and trays, foil and food and drink cartons before placing them in your recycling box or bin. This stops leftover food and liquids from spoiling other recycling like paper and card, and makes the sorting process at the Materials Recycling Facility cleaner and more efficient. It is fine to leave any labels on, but please make sure to remove film from your pots or trays.

Please place all recycling loose in your container and not in plastic bags. Plastic bags make it difficult to separate recycling and can get caught in sorting machinery, causing damage and delays.

Does it matter what colour of plastic containers I put in my recycling container?

You can recycle all plastic pots, tubs and trays as long as they are not black.

Why can’t I recycle black plastic items?

The majority of black packaging is currently coloured using carbon black or dark pigments which are not recognised by the optical sorting systems being used widely in plastics recycling, including at re3’s Materials Recycling Facility.

Work currently being done in the recycling industry to use more detectable black colourants may mean that this situation could change in the future, but at the moment we are asking residents not to put black plastic into the residual waste bin.

Why can’t crisp bags and food and drink pouches be included with foil?

Food and drinks pouches are made with bonded layers of aluminium and plastic. Crisp bags are made from metallised plastic film as is some gift wrapping - if they spring back when scrunched up they are not pure foil.

Although trials are being undertaken in by certain manufacturers there is not yet a viable market for recycling these items but re3 will continue to monitor any industry developments.

Other councils have been doing this for a while. Why have you made this change now?

re3 aims to provide the most cost-effective waste management service we can.

We have made enhancements to the re3 Materials Recycling Facility in Reading to process a wider range of plastics. At the same time, re3 has been researching the best options to ensure that more plastic packaging is processed efficiently and recycled and we have recently been able to find new markets to buy and process these new types of plastic cost-effectively.

Why did you previously recycle only plastic bottles?

The re3 councils have previously prioritised plastic bottles, principally for reasons of quality and value for money. This has been successful thanks to the commitment of residents in Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham.

Working together with our waste management Contractor, FCC, the re3 councils can now add pots, tubs, trays, clean foil, foil trays and food and drink cartons to all the other kerbside recyclables.

Does re3 send plastic abroad for recycling?

Thanks to the high quality of our plastic materials, re3 has been working with its contractor FCC Environment to establish agreements that allow all plastic to be recycled in the UK for the time being.

It is our intention to manage waste in the most efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly way possible. re3 is committed to re-processing plastic in the UK, however recycling is a global business and this situation might change in the future.

Does re3 send any materials to China?

re3 does export some recyclable card to China. It is pre-sorted and of a high quality and each container we send is carefully checked to ensure that we are not exporting low quality materials. We try to use surplus shipping capacity so that we are not adding unduly to the environmental cost of recycling materials elsewhere.

Why haven’t you introduced glass into the kerbside service as well?

Separating glass from kerbside collection would require an additional investment to the Material Recycling Facility, including modifying and purchasing new bin trucks. It is re3 intention to manage waste in the most efficient ways possible and our current assessment suggests that collecting glass in separate containers is more cost-effective.

re3 area residents are already very conscientious and effective glass recyclers and our bottle bring banks are well used. In addition, by collecting glass in separate containers, we can recycle it into higher grade glass products bringing additional value to our recycling process.

Has anything else changed?

No - we continue to collect the following items from the kerbside:

  • Plastic bottles, for example for milk, mineral water, lemonade, shampoo, fabric conditioner
  • Tins, cans and aerosols, for example beans or soup tins, drinks cans, deodorants, air fresheners
  • Paper and cardboard, for example magazines, cereal boxes, cardboard tubes, online delivery packaging