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How recyclable is the packaging of five favourite UK takeaways?

ByMieka Smiles

Mar 16, 2019

Britain is a nation of takeaway lovers.  

From fast food restaurant favourites through to our morning cup of coffee.  

But according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) the type of litter fast food often produces is one of the top three culprits of waste blighting our landscapes.  

Thankfully there is much that we can do to prevent this, including making sure that as householders we recycle as much of the waste produced as possible.  

J&B Recycling is a leading UK waste firm that processes kerbside and business waste from across the country.  

Here Mark Penny, J&B Recycling’s Commercial Manager, talks us through the recyclability of the packaging associated with five of the UK’s top takeaway dishes.  

  1. Wrapped up  

Fish and chips is the UK’s national dish.   

But can the paper that’s replaced traditional newspaper wrap be popped into your recycling bin?  

In short, no. That’s because it absorbs grease and odours, rendering it no good for recycling firms such as J&B. One for the general waste bin.  

  1. Vindaloo!  

Indian and Chinese takeaways tend to be delivered in foil cartons with a cardboard lid or plastic tubs with plastic lid.   

And the good news is – as long as they contain no food and are washed clean – they can be popped into your recycling bin.  

Hungry yet?  

  1. Smell the coffee  

Morning coffee is a must for many.  

But although a provider of pep, can those takeaway cups be recycled?  

Along with soft drink cups from many mainstream fast food restaurants, they can be recycled but they shouldn’t go into your household recycling bin as they need to make their way to specialist recycling facilities. They should be returned to the provider as many will have dedicated recycling schemes just for the cups. Or better still take your own reusable cup with you when you go! 

Tip: The straws are too small for recycling machinery to sort and therefore shouldn’t be put into your recycling bin either.  

  1. Boxed up  

Pizza boxes and fish and chip boxes cause confusion for householders as many local authorities will not accept them into recycling waste.  

But if they are accepted then they must be free of food, any paper lining removed, ideally flattened and not grease-stained.  

Make sure to check rules on your local council’s website.  

  1. Pitta-patta  

What about your late-night kebab and its trademark polystyrene container?  

Expanded polystyrene is not a material that’s commonly recycled in household schemes 

So enjoy your grub and pop the container into your general waste.  


Mark has extra advice for those wanting to up their takeaway eco scale.    

He said: “Food waste can only be recycled if it is collected separately to your other waste. But if you don’t have a separate food waste service any food waste must go in your household rubbish or general waste bin – not the recycling bin.”  

Not putting food waste into your recycling is important as doing so leads to contamination – meaning other materials will be rejected rather than recycled.  

Mark said: “Contamination can be anything from food and liquids left at the bottom of bottles to polystyrene left inside cardboard boxes. Putting recyclables inside a different type of recyclable and then into the recycling bin can also prevent sorting.  

“To reduce contamination, we advise residents to wash out any food remains and pour away excess liquid, especially in plastic bottles. If possible, rinse the container but don’t put it in the dishwasher – it doesn’t need to be spotless.”