Posts tagged "polypropylene"

How can I reuse LOTS of florists’ ribbon?

Nicky has emailed to ask how she can recycle:

Almost 100 kilometres of 2″ wide yellow florists ribbon. Unravelled and of varying lengths – very long to short pieces. Currently in 5 large industrial bags.

Wow, that’s a fair bit of ribbon! My first thought would be to offer it to a local scrap store – they collect unwanted materials from businesses and the like, and redistribute them to local schools, community groups and crafters for upcycling & repurposing. Many will collect suitable materials from businesses too, so it’s worth a shot.

Another option would be to offer it on Freecycle/Freegle – it’s unlikely that anyone would want all five bags but a few people might be willing to take a bag each, for their own craft/redistribution purposes.

As for actually recycling it, most florists’ ribbon is made of polypropylene (plastic number 5), which can be recycled so a plastics recycling company may be interested in it. (I don’t know how much 100km of ribbon weighs – most recycling companies like a minimum of around a tonne) I don’t have any particular recommendations for Nicky though – anyone know any plastic recycling companies around London?

Any other suggestions for ways to reuse it, recycle it or pass it on? Preferably ideas suitable for reusing/recycling 100km of the stuff rather than individual craft suggestions.

(Photo by michaelaw)

How can I reuse or recycle “disposable” hair nets?

We’ve had an email from Philip, asking about disposable hair nets:

I work in food production (ready meal factory) and have to wear a hair net whenever I’m on the floor. Some staff have proper hats but the rest of us have to have single use hair nets. Management say it’s cheaper but I think it’s very wasteful. Can they be recycled?

Whenever I get hold of one of them, I keep it to reuse at home – single use, schmingle use – when having a big baking or preserving session. (I’m less bothered about having a completely sterile environment and more about keeping my hair out of my face – and my food.) But if I was getting them every day, that wouldn’t really be an option – and they’re not the sort of thing you could pass on to others.

From what I’ve read, that type of hat is typically made out of polypropylene (older style nets are sometimes nylon) so the actually recycling options are very limited to non-existent. It seems like there many be a possibility of textile reclamation but all the information I can find out it is in the US so I’m not sure if there are any companies over here. As for reuses, they’re a bit like last week’s net curtains but not as strong so not suitable for all the ideas for them – and again, if you’re using them every day, they’re quickly going to mount up so no amount of crafts can solve the problem.

I think the key thing here really is to reduce: if it’s simply a matter of cost, you may want to consider buying your own hat so at least you’re not contributing to the problem – they’re not much and I suspect if you could get some other people involved you might be able to push the price down further by bulk buying (or at least sharing out delivery costs). However, from what I’ve read, there is sometimes an issue about not taking protective clothing outside of the sterile environment so it would be worth checking what arrangements (if any) are in place for handling the existing proper hats.

Anyone got any reuse ideas? Or any suggestions on how Philip can lobby his bosses into doing the right thing and getting reusable hats?

How can I reuse or recycle plastic biscuit wrapping?

I am a fan of biscuits (aka cookies). I have written of my love of biscuits. I am eating a biscuit while writing this. I do try to make my own biscuits but we eat store-bought ones too – and that obviously means packaging waste.

My favourite shop-bought ones are McVitie’s dark choc digestives so I contacted United Biscuits (who make McVities and a number of other brands) recently about their film-y packaging. They got back to me immediately – which is great compared to most companies – but the news isn’t particular good:

“Packs are made from polypropylene, which is not biodegradable. However, it is recyclable, although I am advised that whilst there are facilities to accommodate this elsewhere, there are currently none in the UK. We are working with the government agencies to try and develop suitable collection in the UK.

Having said that, a lot of work is currently taking place in the packaging community to develop films from sustainable bio sources such as corn. Development of these films may result in biodegradable and compostable films suitable for packaging our products.

The silver layer present in some of our packaging, is a microscopic layer of aluminium used as a barrier to prevent the migration of oxygen into the pack. This increases the shelf life of the product from several days to several months.

We use many hundreds of tonnes of film every year and are very concerned not only by the environment but also by the fact that plastics are derived from a non-renewable resource, crude oil.

Our packaging experts are working with the country’s leading producers to find replacements that are safe, cost effective and environmentally friendly as far as possible.”


So they say it can’t be recycled – what are the other options? Aside from making more at home, I’m careful to bulk buy possible (keeping the excess air-tight to avoid spoilage) but not buy their multipacks, which are the regular packs in an additional plastic pack.

Are there any reuses for polypropylene film? Anyone know of any other recycling avenues to explore?

How can I reuse or recycle damaged plastic plant pots?

a plantpotWe’ve had an email from Elaine:

You’ve got lots of suggestions for things I can use as plantpots but what can I do with damaged ones? Cleaning out my greenhouse last weekend I found about thirty that had either cracked right down the side or on the bottom. I just want to recycle them really.

I’m not an expert on identifying plastic when it’s not in the standard milk bottle, water bottle or carrier bag categories but I think the plant pots I’ve got are mostly made of Polypropylene (Type 5) – a quick spot check of the bottom of pots in our living room confirms this. Type 5 plastics can be doorstep recycled in some places – check your local council’s advice on what you can or can’t include in your green bin.

Any suggestions about what Elaine could do if she can’t recycle them like that? Any bulk reuse suggestions?

How can I reuse or recycle … plastic take-out containers?

Plastic food containerBecause we so often get caught up doing other things (and/or are lazy), John and I have take-out about once a week. Sometimes this is pizza, as I’ve mentioned before, but recently we discovered a new Chinese place open up nearby and we have been partaking in its various offerings.

Long gone are the days of foil tubs and cardboard tops – everyone in the take-out world seems to use microwaveable plastic lidded containers these days. While I have worries about storing food in plastic for any length of time, we kept the first few rounds of tubs to use for leftovers from our own culinary exploits and the like. But now we have more tubs & lids than we know what to do with – we have more than enough for use in the kitchen and around the house – and storage is getting to be a problem.

We can’t doorstep-recycle them because they’re Polypropylene (type 5) and our council only recycles types 1, 2 and 4 (as seems standard) – and I don’t know anywhere else that recycles them. I doubt the take-out places could take them back for their re-use for hygiene reasons – and ditto anywhere else that might find them useful but lacks sterilising equipment.

So any suggestions? Recycling ideas or uses outside the normal ones around the home (food tubs in the kitchen; nuts/bolts/screws in the cellar; under plants..)?