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Shrink wrap film is a popular and cost-effective material used in many different businesses, from chocolatiers to book publishers. It can be used for a variety of purposes as well, from shrink wrapping boats to protect them from the elements to provide a tamper-proof seal over exam papers.

However, many myths surround shrink wrap film that are well worth dispelling. One of these is that shrink wrap is unrecyclable and must be disposed of in landfills, but this is simply not the case. Many leading retailers have recycling programs for materials including shrink wrap – some have even generated positive revenue streams by selling bales of recyclable waste to other companies for reuse. Read the rest of our article to learn what shrink wrap you can recycle and how you can do so in the UK.

Can Individuals Recycle Shrink Wrap in the UK?

Rubbish bin full of polyolefin shrink wrap film

Plastic shrink wrap film made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE), typically marked with a recycling number four on the product, can be easily recycled. While decades ago some councils only accepted recycling number one and two products, today most local authorities can recycle LDPE. If your local authority is not able to recover shrink wrap film, then a nearby major supermarket should be able to handle recycling your shrink wrap waste for you.

Many of our shrink wrap films are also made from mixed polyolefin. At the moment, for individuals recycling polyolefin shrink wrap is possible but tougher compared to virgin polymers or LDPE. Many places do take polyolefin shrink wrap for recycling, although you should check with your recycling centre before disposing of your plastic waste.

Some shrink wrap cannot be recycled, unfortunately, depending on its previous use. Shrink wrap used for healthcare or personal hygiene products or as containers around hazardous waste cannot be recovered due to the risks involved if it is reused. Shrink wrap film inseparably attached to a large amount of non-plastic components (like earth, sand, paper, rubber, organic waste, or so on) also cannot be recycled until the excess non-plastic material is separated from the film, and shrink wrap used in food packaging cannot be recycled into packaging for other food, for health and safety reasons.


Can Businesses Recycle Shrink Wrap Film in the UK?

Glass building looking up at clouds

Businesses can recycle waste shrink wrap film easily in the UK. There are many companies which specialise in helping firms manage their waste, which includes recycling their excess shrink wrap film. Particularly as waste disposal costs rise and recycling becomes more popular, more and more businesses are seeing the benefits of recycling shrink wrap film.

On the one hand, recycling your waste shrink wrap adds value to your consumers, giving them the knowledge that the products they buy have a lower environmental impact than your competitors. Particularly for ecologically-savvy clients and customers, this can be an important selling point for your business worth considering.

On the other hand, recycling can directly generate revenue for your business if you sell the excess plastic waste you collect to the right company. Many stores collect waste plastic because, once you have enough bales of waste material, they can be sold on to manufacturers or recycling companies for a profit. Deloitte, in their Sustainability Research Project, reports how one mass retailer reduced waste by 70% through extensive recycling programs, including recycling shrink wrap at distribution centres to be re-processed into lumber products. In doing so, revenue from recycling outpaced their disposal expenses for five years in a

In short, not only can your business recycle shrink wrap, but it can be an essential way to add value for your consumers and act as a supplementary revenue stream for your company. Properly handled, polyolefin shrink wrap can be a much more environmentally friendly packaging material for your business than you might otherwise have assumed.


Don’t Just Recycle – Reduce and Reuse Too

Reuse bag in front of leaves

As we’ve talked about before, there are three crucial ‘R’s of becoming an environmentally friendly business: reducing, reusing, and recycling are all equally important.

Resource minimisation is essential to save your business money and reduce your carbon footprint. By reducing the amount of resource that goes into your packaging solution, you reduce the amount you have to spend on materials, as well as the environmental impact of producing the amount of shrink wrap you desire. Here at Kempner, we offer some of the thinnest shrink wrap films on the market – our own thinnest film is just 8.5 microns thick, while still being as strong as many of our competitors.


If you would like more information about some of the fantastic shrink wrap film options we have available, please contact us for help and advice. With many years in the industry, we at Kempner will be able to find the right product for your business’ needs.