HDPE categorisation tool

In the UK around 120,000 tonnes of plastic HDPE milk bottles are used and disposed of each year.

This online tool provides guidance to dairies who supply fresh milk in HDPE milk bottles to the UK retailers, in order to help them to maximise the recyclability of the milk bottles they put onto the UK market.

By designing milk bottles to be as recyclable as possible, the quality and quantity of recycled HDPE (rHDPE) that can be used in new milk bottles is maximised.

This initiative helps the industry achieve the recycled content targets it has set within the Dairy Roadmap (formerly known as the Milk Roadmap). This roadmap aims to increase the use of recycled HDPE (rHDPE) in new milk bottles from 10% in 2010 (achieved), to 30% by 2015 and 50% by 2020.

There are numerous elements of bottle design that affect its recyclability and WRAP has worked with key industry players including the three biggest dairies, UK food grade rHDPE reprocessors, plastic bottle manufacturers and grocery retailers to develop a recyclability categorisation matrix.

This matrix indicates which elements of milk bottle design are ideal (category A, green), not ideal, but not detrimental (category B, amber) or detrimental for recycling (category C, red).

The online tool enables dairies to measure the percentage of their sales that are in category A, B or C; identify which elements are limiting recyclability so that they can be addressed (maximising the percentage of category A bottles); and enables them to measure the recyclability of their bottles against the combined industry benchmark.


Benefits of using the tool

This tool will help to:

  • make separation and reprocessing of HDPE easier and more efficient;
  • create a stable and affordable supply of high quality rHDPE; and
  • close the loop and therefore save 1 tonne of CO2 for every 1 tonne of rHDPE used in place of virgin HDPE.

This can be achieved by:

  • ensuring milk bottles are designed with recyclability in mind;
  • avoiding using materials that are known to significantly contaminate and reduce the quality of rHDPE;
  • encouraging collaboration between bottle manufacturers, dairies, retailers and reprocessors; and
  • encourage the use of fewer packaging materials in HDPE bottles to allow for ease and efficiency of recycling and maximise the amount and quality of food grade material that is processed.


For dairies, to help you to confidentially calculate your current performance against these recyclability categories please register or login here.

Note: If your dairy has not yet been set up you will need to create a new account – select the “register/login (dairies only)” option.

Anybody can access the tool to view the recyclability matrix and carry out a “quick check” of a particular design combination to see how recyclable that type of bottle is.

To do this, select the “Quick Check (non-registered users)” or “recyclability categorisation matrix options”.