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High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) is a type of resin commonly used in plastics bottles. It is widely used in the UK for fresh milk bottles, shampoo and detergent bottles.

Of the 306,000 tonnes of plastic bottles captured for recycling through local authority collections in 2011, HDPE bottles make up almost 50% of the stream. In the UK, in 2010, 76% of HDPE milk bottles were recycled.

Key points:

  • The most significant quick win for caps is the use of “tinted caps”
  • Over laminated paper labels of the specification tested were found to leach colour and sediment into the wash process and cross contaminate the HDPE flake
  • There are a number of suggested improvements that food grade rHDPE reprocessors can make to reduce the overall colour hue of rHDPE

HDPE recycling process

WRAP has worked with industry partners in series of pioneering research and development projects to create the worlds’ first process to recycle HDPE milk bottles back into food grade recycled HDPE (rHDPE) for use in new milk bottles. 

Reprocessing facilities have been set up in the UK to produce food grade rHDPE and this has enabled the UK dairy industry to close the loop by manufacturing new milk bottles with recycled content - delivering environmental benefits through a reduction in landfill and reductions in the use of virgin plastics and associated carbon emissions.