HDPE Plastic Recycling

An introduction to HDPE plastic

We all have a responsibility to protect our planet and make a concerted effort to recycle items. At Plastic Expert, we can help you operate as eco-friendly as possible by recycling HDPE waste.
Most commonly known as Polyethylene, HDPE is processed into two different forms. Although there are many types of Polyethylene, it can be categorised as Low Density and High Density. Here we will be looking at High-Density Polyethylene; the stronger and heavier of the two plastics. In particular, we will be looking not only at the HDPE recycling process but also the recycling of HDPE film.
If you are wondering what kind of things are made from HDPE, consider milk bottles, detergent bottles, bleach bottles, shampoo bottles, and tupperware. HDPE film is widely used in warehouses, as its tensile strength is excellent and is resistant to corrosive chemicals. It can be used for food contact and it can be sterilised easily. Chemicals previously used for food contact were found to leach chemicals. Because HDPE film is transparent, it has many other beneficial uses.
HDPE Pipe Recycling


We received an enquiry from a utility contractor who needed help recycling 12+ tonnes of HDPE pipe. Once we collected the full skips of pipe they were sent straight to our domestic in house factory.
rigid plastic recycling

Where is HDPE plastic found in businesses?

As HDPE is a very popular type of plastic, it can be easily found in businesses such as:

Environmental facts about HDPE plastic

Before we look at the exact process entailed in polyethylene recycling, it is worth considering some facts regarding the eco-footprint of this product. Most people will come into contact with HDPE every day. After all, this strong plastic is used to make everything from shampoo bottles to drink containers.
Since this material has a lot of different uses, it means that there is a large environmental impact when it comes to HDPE plastic. However, businesses can ensure that HDPE is recycled correctly to reduce this impact, and that is exactly what Plastic Expert are here to assist with.

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Let's take a look at some of the key environmental facts about this type of plastic:

Aliases – This plastic has a number of different names. It is referred to as HDPE as well as high-density polyethylene. It is also called plastic #2. 
Pollution – Like all other plastics, there is a high amount of air pollution produced when manufacturing HDPE. Plastic production releases the likes of sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, non-methane hydrocarbons, and carbon dioxide. 
It is also responsible for solid waste such as coal ash and other particles that occur due to burning fuel. This is as well as water pollution like iron, suspended solids, dissolved solids, chromium, and ammonia. Therefore, the environmental impact is much higher than using recycled plastics to create HDPE products.
Recycling rates – The most widely recycled plastics are the two used to make soft drinks bottles and milk bottles: PET and HDPE. HDPE is a popular choice for these products due to its strength, flexibility and recyclability. In fact, 74% of plastic (PET/HDPE) drink bottles were recycled in the UK in 2016.
Incineration – In recent years, plastic waste such as HPDE has been sent for waste-to-energy (incineration). However, burning plastic is not a sustainable solution to dealing with plastic materials. The waste should be segregated at source, and recycled into new products.
Another disposal route we often hear are landfill sites. In the coming years however, these are set to close. Waste sent for incineration increased by 0.8 million tonnes (7.7 per cent) to 12.5 million tonnes in 2020/21 compared to 2019/20. This is coinciding with policies to divert waste away from landfill.
Decomposition – Plastic waste can take a number of years to decompose, depending on the material’s structure and environment. With these environmental issues, there is pressure on manufacturers to use recycled pellets. Other benefits of using recycled polymers include lower costs and a demand from customers to purchase more sustainable products.

Recycling HDPE into new products

Using HDPE plastic to make new products is the preferred approach. It saves resources, water, energy, and landfill space, as well as reducing pollution. Here are some of the products that can be made through HDPE recycling:

Recycling bins

HDPE can be recycled into new wheelie bins and recycling containers.

Plastic lumber

This is used for playgrounds, picnic tables, and outdoor patios.

Utility Pipes

HDPE is often used for utility pipes for its corrosion resistance and durability.


HDPE crates can withstand exposure to sun, rain, and other environmental conditions without significant degradation.

Non-food bottles

For example, anti-freeze bottles, as well as bottles for motor oil, laundry cleaners, cleaning products, conditioner, and shampoo.

Garden Furniture And Flower Pots

Recycled HDPE can be used to create outdoor furniture such as benches, tables and chairs.

Floor tiles

HDPE is known for its impact resistance. This means tiles made from HDPE can withstand considerable wear and tear.

Sheeting and film plastic

This has a wide range of applications, from agricultural films and liners to packaging materials and bags.

Plastic Recycling Bales

The HDPE Recycling Process

The HDPE Recycling process starts with collection. One challenge for storing HDPE is that often it is contaminated, so the clean and dirty HDPE need to be kept separate, as they are recycled differently and have different market values. Contaminated HDPE must go through a rigorous cleaning process before being recycled, to make sure that the material quality is processed at a high level. Common recycling machinery can process HDPE bottles, but HDPE film must go through a different process, as it is liable to get caught up in the teeth of machines.
HDPE film recycling machinery chews the plastic in small pieces that are then formed into pellets. The pellets can be turned into a variety of things, and are combined with a percentage of virgin HDPE to improve the strength and reliability. The pellets are blown using a variety of machinery and techniques to achieve different results. Recycled HDPE is often used to make things like piping, plastic lumber, recycling bins, and rope. Recycled HDPE will often be a dark colour, such as brown or black because it is easy to dye a clear plastic black than the other way around.

Machinery used in the HDPE plastic recycling process

The HDPE Recycling process is vastly improved by the availability of high-quality recycling machinery, including waste balers and waste compactors which allows businesses of any size to tackle their waste. The potential for profit, the ease and the increase in understanding, is helping recycling to accelerate and avoid landfill. Machines come in a variety of sizes, depending on the waste needs of the business. Some businesses will have more HDPE to separate from their waste stream than others, so a larger plastic baler may be beneficial. The machines create bales of HDPE in different sizes, and the different sizes are worth different amounts. Quite often, recycling businesses like to deal with ‘mill sized’ bales, as they are the ideal size.
hdpe pipe collection

HDPE Recycling for your business

Does your company have HDPE plastic for recycling? Contact one of our team today and find out how we can help your company reduce costs and recycle plastic ethically and safely. We at Plastic Expert can help you and guide you through your business recycling needs and make the process as easy, flexible and efficient as possible.
We also have a range of recycling machinery such as balers, and consumables for sale. These machines can help secure your HDPE plastic waste into bales. We can then buy your scrap plastic in large volumes. The consumables to assist with bales include baling wire, strapping and twine. Let our team know if you are looking for baler hire and we will be happy to help.