What Happens To The Plastic I Put In A Skip?

Plastic waste is a pressing environmental issue that continues to challenge societies around the globe. The average life of a plastic bag is just 25 minutes, so its environmental impact is disproportionately large. Once discarded, these bags can take between 100 and 500 years to decompose. This blog post delves into the lifecycle of plastic waste, focusing on what happens to the plastic you put in a skip.

The Short Life and Long Legacy of Plastic Bags

Plastic bags are ubiquitous in our daily lives but have a surprisingly short lifespan. On average, a single-use plastic bag is used for just 25 minutes before being thrown away. Despite this brief period of utility, these bags can persist in the environment for centuries.

In 2015, British law mandated that shops charge customers for single-use carrier bags. This legislation led to a significant reduction in plastic bag usage—by about 300 million bags. However, despite this progress, plastic still constitutes much of our rubbish.

The Scale of Plastic Waste

Britons use an estimated 5 million tonnes of plastic per year, almost half of which is packaging material. The problem with plastic waste is its durability; it does not decompose quickly and can cause considerable environmental damage if it ends up in landfills or oceans.

Environmental Impact

Plastic waste pollutes rivers and oceans and poses severe risks to wildlife. Over 8 million individual pieces of plastic enter the sea every day, leading to catastrophic effects on marine ecosystems.

Disposal Challenges

Local authorities find it challenging to manage such waste effectively. Compounding the issue is China’s decision to no longer accept exported plastic waste due to its volume and contamination issues.

What Happens To The Plastic I Put In A Skip?

Disposing of your plastic waste in a skip embarks on a complex journey involving sorting, recycling, or recovery processes.


The first step involves sorting the collected waste at specialized facilities. Here, plastics suitable for recycling are separated from other materials.


Once sorted, recyclable plastics undergo decontamination processes to remove any impurities or non-recyclable elements.


Economically viable plastics are then sent off to recycling facilities and processed into new products. This step helps reduce the demand for virgin materials and minimizes environmental impact.


Plastics that are not suitable for recycling are often recovered rather than sent to landfills. One common method is energy recovery through incineration. While this process generates energy from waste materials, it also has its own set of environmental concerns.

Government Initiatives and Future Goals

The UK government has set ambitious targets for reducing plastic pollution. By 2025, they aim for all packaging to be recyclable, reusable, or compostable.

Legislative Measures

Over the years, various legislative measures have been introduced to reduce single-use plastics and promote sustainable alternatives.

Public Awareness Campaigns

Public awareness campaigns play a crucial role in educating citizens about proper disposal methods and encouraging responsible consumption habits.

A Collective Responsibility

While legislative changes like charging for single-use carrier bags have led to significant reductions in plastic usage, there is still much work to be done. Understanding what happens to the plastic you put in a skip can help you make more informed decisions about your consumption habits and disposal methods.

By taking collective responsibility—through individual actions like reducing single-use plastics and supporting recycling initiatives—we can make meaningful strides towards mitigating the environmental impact of plastic waste.

We recommend Martlands Skip Hire for all of your skip hire needs. They offer a range of different skip sizes and operate their own waste treatment facility, so as little of your waste goes to landfill as possible.

Wigan Skip Hire 01942 417456
Southport Skip Hire 01704 779345
Skelmersdale Skip Hire 01695 769123
Bamber Bridge Skip Hire 01772 364 399
Chorley Skip Hire 01257 752399
Ormskirk Skip Hire 01704 779345
Leyland Skip Hire 01772 364399


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