What is plastic made from?

Plastic is made from oil, a non-renewable resource. Oil wells are drilled on land or at sea and the crude oil is sent to an oil refinery and then turned into products such as petrol, paraffin, lubricating oil and plastic.

You might think that plastic is just plastic, but there are over 50 different types! Click here to see the 7 most common types and the symbols that will appear on products made from them.

What are the benefits of recycling plastic?

Use less oil – For every tonne of recycled polythene 1.8 tonnes of oil are saved.
Less waste to dispose of – if plastic isn’t recycled it may end up in a landfill site where it takes hundreds of years to break down. It may also go to an Energy from Waste plant, but once burnt, it can never be used again.

Wow fact: Recycling just one plastic bottle can save the same amount of energy needed to power a 60 watt light bulb for 6 hours.

How is plastic recycled?

Plastic is collected by your local council.
It is then sorted into different types and sent to processing plants, these are often overseas.
Here the plastic is shredded into tiny pieces.
The plastic is then washed and melted down.
The melted plastic can then be re-shaped to make new products.

Where can you recycle plastic?

In Devon plastics are collected from your home by your local Council using a recycling bin, box or bag. Collection systems vary. To find out more about which plastics your council can collect click here.

Plastics Quiz


< Check out this guide for creative ideas to make with waste plastic.

And how to build your own Recycled Plastic Bottle Greenhouse! >