Can wheelie bins be recycled? Introducing our revolutionary PP and PE polymer formula for wheelie bins

The development team at Bright Green Plastics, led by product formulation manager, Jonathan Attwood, has recently completed a revolutionary heavy-duty recycled polymer formula for household wheelie bins.  

Here, Jonathan answers all the burning questions on the science behind the formula and how this breakthrough has the potential to change the the world, one wheelie bin at a time…  

How are wheelie bins different to any other plastic product?  

The two wheeled plastic rubbish bins which over 60m British households use for domestic waste must be tough enough to withstand all weathers and rough handling for at least 10 years.  

Traditionally, to retain high levels of durability, only the recycled material that came from existing, defunct wheelie bins could be put back into the system. However, with a dependency on relatively small numbers of old bins becoming available, the scope for a circular economy in the manufacture of household waste bins has been, to date, limited.” 

Can recycled plastic really be robust enough for the tough life of a wheelie bin?  

“It’s true that under normal circumstances PP and PE are immiscible and incompatible in the melt phase. If compounded, the part would have few end uses as the material is inherently weak. The two polymers are often difficult to separate due to their similar densities, presenting a challenge for the recycling industries, however, due to the technology we have developed, the performance and strength of the blended materials is extremely powerful.“ 

How has this breakthrough been achieved?  

“The new formulation is a mixed polyolefin, where we use a blend of polypropylene (PP),  polyethylene (PE) feedstocks and our patented BrightFusion additive to produce the exact properties required to maximise strength and integrity, creating a reliable, heavy-duty recycled polymer from a wide variety of post-consumer waste sources that could see wheelie bins containing at least 97% of recycled plastic material.” 

What’s the next step for this new formula?  

“We are now in discussions with manufacturers who supply local authorities with wheelie bins to trial the formula in the main structure of the bins, which will undergo rigorous testing with sledgehammers and weights to substantiate the plastic’s durability.  

This new technology has the power to protect the environment AND the future of the UK’s reprocessing industry by reducing reliance on virgin plastic when wheelie bin grind is in short supply.” 

What else is the technical team at Bright Green Plastics working on?  

“We’re working on an ongoing basis to develop bespoke formulations and solutions to improve the standards of recycled plastic in the UK, and make it easier for firms, across a wide variety of industries, to incorporate recycled materials into their products.  

All plastic production has the potential to be formed of recycled materials. With our ongoing developments and partnerships, such as our recent collaboration with the University of Liverpool, University of Manchester and Unilever, we’re on a mission to ensure no plastic waste ends up in landfill or the incinerator.”