Definition of mixed plastics

The definition of the term 'mixed plastics' has been the subject of industry-wide debate due to varying interpretations of what the waste stream consists of. Much of the discussion has centred on whether or not plastic bottles and commercial waste should be included in any classification of mixed plastics.

In order for the issue of mixed plastics to be properly addressed, it is necessary to establish a comprehensive definition for the term to stop potential confusion and inconsistent specifications for mixed plastic waste.

As part of its work to drive a world class recycling industry and help individuals, businesses and local authorities to reduce waste and recycle more, WRAP uses the following definition when referring to mixed plastics:

"Mixed plastic is a term that covers all non-bottle plastic packaging sourced from the domestic waste stream, and it includes rigid and flexible plastic items of various polymer types and colours that are typically found in the household waste bin. It excludes plastic bottles and non-packaging items."

Under this definition mixed plastics include the ordinary, everyday packaging items people routinely throw away such as plastic trays, films, pots and tubs. This definition does not encompass plastic bottles or other plastic items which are not used in packaging such as plant pots or toys.