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J&B Recycling Knowledge

What can I put in my recycling bin

What can I put in my recycling bin?

Recycling is an essential part of our daily lives, and knowing what we can and cannot put in our recycling bin is crucial. By recycling, we can reduce waste, save resources, and minimise our impact on the environment. But with all the confusion about what can and cannot be recycled, it's easy to get overwhelmed. In this blog post, we'll help you understand what you can put in your recycling bin.

What CAN I put in in my recycling bin?

Firstly, it is very important to check your local authority’s website to understand the recycling guidelines in your area. Different regions have different recycling programs, and what's recyclable in one area may not be in another. By checking your local authority's website, you can make sure you're following the correct recycling guidelines, reducing contamination, and helping to ensure that your waste is being recycled properly. A little research can go a long way in making a positive impact on the environment!

Recycle Now have a very handy tool whereby you can check how to dispose of household items based on your postcode >> CLICK HERE to visit their website.

As a rule of thumb, apart from paper products, only packaging materials should be put in your recycling bin at home or at work (unless you work in a specialist industry and have a specialist provision). So, for example, a frying pan made from metal is recyclable, but it should not be put in your recycling bin at home because it is not metal packaging.

Paper and Cardboard

Paper and cardboard are two of the most common materials that can be recycled. This includes items such as newspapers, magazines, cereal boxes, cardboard boxes, and office paper. Be sure to remove any plastic wrapping or other non-paper materials before popping them in your recycling bin.


Plastic is a little trickier than other materials when it comes to recycling. Not all types of plastic can be recycled, and different recycling programs have different requirements, so always read the label, and check on your local authority website.

Generally, plastic bottles, containers, and trays made of type 1, 2 or 5 plastic can be recycled in most schemes. Lots of drinks bottles now come with the lid connected to the bottle – this is to help with recycling as the lids are small and can be lost in the sorting process if not attached. If the top isn’t attached to the bottle, we recommend you squeeze all the air out and screw the top back on.

Plastic films generally can’t be recycled in your kerbside recycling scheme, though most supermarkets provide take back schemes. Check on your local authority website to see which types of plastic they accept.


Glass containers, such as jars and bottles, can be recycled. Some local authorities have a separate bin to collect glass, so be sure to check the guidance to make sure you are putting glass items in the right bin. Be sure to wash out any leftover food items such as jam and sauces. We recommend removing any metal lids which can be put in the recycling bin. Corks however cannot be recycled at the kerbside.

Aluminium and Steel

Aluminium cans, foil, and steel cans can be recycled. Make sure to clean them thoroughly before placing them in your recycling bin. As mentioned above, items that don’t constitute ‘packaging’, such as pots, pans, cutlery, should not be put in your recycling bin at home. They can be taken to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre (tip), where any recyclable materials can be recovered.

What should I NOT put in my recycling bin?

Contaminating recycling waste can have serious consequences, including reducing the value of the recycled material and potentially contaminating other recyclables. It's crucial to make sure that you only put accepted items in your recycling bin and that they are clean and free of any non-recyclable materials. By taking the time to sort your waste properly and ensuring that your recycling is free of contamination, you can help to protect our environment and support the recycling industry. Every small action can make a big difference in creating a more sustainable future.

Non-Bottle or Jar Glass

Glass items such as drinking glasses mirrors, light bulbs and Pyrex must not be put in your recycling bin as they can’t be recycled in the same way as glass bottles and are classed as contamination by the re-processors as they have a detrimental impact on their finished product.

Electronic Waste

Electronic waste, such as computers, TVs, and cell phones, can be recycled. However, they should not be placed in your regular recycling bin. Electronic waste from households can be taken to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre for disposal. Waste Management services, such as ours, provide electronic waste disposal for businesses.


Batteries should not be placed in your regular recycling bin as they pose a significant fire hazard, and they contain toxic chemicals that can harm the environment. Many stores and recycling centres have programs to recycle batteries safely. Check with your local recycling centre to see where you can take your batteries.

Vapes and E-cigarettes

Vapes and e-cigarettes cannot be recycled because they contain electronic components and rechargeable batteries that can pose a safety hazard and are not compatible with most recycling programs. The rechargeable batteries used in vapes and e-cigarettes contain hazardous chemicals that can cause fires or explosions if damaged or punctured during the recycling process. Additionally, the plastic cartridges and packaging that come with vapes and e-cigarettes may not be accepted by all recycling programs due to the presence of multiple materials or non-recyclable plastics. Therefore, it's essential to dispose of vapes and e-cigarettes properly and safely, usually by taking them to designated collection sites or following the guidelines provided by the manufacturer.


Toys are generally not accepted in kerbside recycling bins because they are made of multiple materials that are difficult to separate, and often contain non-recyclable plastics or metal parts. In addition, toys can be made of materials that are not suitable for recycling or may contain hazardous chemicals that could contaminate the recycling stream. For instance, some toys are made with PVC plastic, which can release toxic chemicals like dioxins when incinerated, and is not accepted by all recycling programs.

Ideally donate your used toys to a charity so that they can be re-loved again! Alternatively, if your toy has reached the end of its life cycle, you can take it to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre, where they might be able to recover any recyclable materials.

Food Waste

Food waste should not be put in your recycling bin because it can contaminate the recycling stream and make it more challenging to recycle other materials. When food waste is mixed with recyclables, it can attract pests, create odours, and promote the growth of bacteria and mould, which can make the recycling process more challenging and costly.

Additionally, recycling facilities are not equipped to handle food waste and do not have the proper infrastructure to compost it. Food waste requires specific conditions to break down properly, such as the right amount of heat, moisture, and oxygen, which cannot be provided in a typical recycling facility.

Instead of putting food waste in your recycling bin, consider composting it at home or taking it to a designated composting facility. By composting your food waste, you can reduce your environmental impact, improve soil health, and create a valuable resource for gardening and landscaping.


It might surprise you to know that we find a lot of nappies in our recycling facility – they definitely shouldn’t end up here (clean or dirty)! Nappies cannot be recycled because they are made of a complex mix of materials, including plastic, paper, and absorbent materials like superabsorbent polymers. These materials are tightly bonded together to create a durable and effective product, making it difficult to separate them for recycling.

Moreover, nappies are often contaminated with human waste, which can pose health risks to workers and cause issues with the recycling process. Recycling facilities are not designed to handle this type of waste, and it can contaminate other materials in the recycling stream.

It's essential to dispose of nappies properly by placing them in the general waste bin or taking them to a designated disposal facility. Some areas may also offer separate nappy disposal services or composting program.

Medical Waste

Medical waste, such as tablet strips, used syringes, needles, dental retainers (e.g. Invisalign) and other medical instruments, should not be put in your recycling bin because they can pose a safety hazard to workers and contaminate the recycling stream. These items may contain biological or chemical substances that can cause injury or illness if not handled properly. Moreover, they are often made of a different type of plastic or contain metals that cannot be recycled in typical recycling programs.

It's essential to dispose of medical plastic waste properly by following the guidelines provided by your local health department or medical facility. This may include using designated sharps disposal containers, which are specially designed to hold and dispose of medical sharps safely or taking them to a designated medical waste disposal facility.

In conclusion

This list isn’t exhaustive. Here at J&B Recycling we sort over 200,000 tonnes of materials every year and we find lots of contaminates – nothing really surprises us! Hopefully by helping raise awareness about what we do and don’t want, we can help increase recycling rates and reduce contamination.

Recycling is an important step in protecting our environment and preserving our resources. By knowing what can and cannot be recycled, we can all do our part to reduce waste and make a positive impact on our planet. Remember, when in doubt, check with your local recycling program to make sure you're doing your part correctly. Let's work together to keep our world clean and green.

J&B Recycling provide waste management solutions for local authorities and businesses across the North of England. Our main Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) is based in Hartlepool and we have a second site in Middlesbrough, making us ideally placed for collections across Teesside (Hartlepool, Stockton, Middlesbrough and Darlington). We also have a site in Washington and we operate established collection routes throughout Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland, North Tyneside and Northumberland. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if we can help with your waste collection.

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