HDPE plastic bottles

HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) 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.

A series of pioneering research and development projects led by WRAP, with industry partners developed 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.

The Dairy Roadmap (Formerly known as the Milk Roadmap) has set targets for the use of rHDPE in new milk bottles of 10% by 2010 (achieved), 30% by 2015 and 50% by 2020.
WRAP has supported the industry to meet the roadmap targets through work such as an R&D project to improve the quality of rHPDE so that more of it can be used in milk bottles in place of virgin HDPE.
WRAP also developed guidance for HDPE milk bottle designers and dairies to maximise the recyclability of HDPE milk bottles. This in turn increases the quantity and quality of rHDPE available to use in new milk bottles. rHDPE can also be used to make many new products, including drainage pipes, recycling bins, outdoor furniture and containers.