Bin roulette: what can I recycle?

by | Feb 26, 2018 | Comment, Hints and tips

Every day we’re reminded that we should be recycling more, that we should sort our waste correctly, and all do our bit for the environment, protecting our increasingly limited resources and helping to make our village, town or city a nicer place to live.

Unfortunately, it’s never quite that simple.

With the myriad of different coloured bins, boxes and bags supplied by our local authorities, and the often confusing and conflicting rules on what goes where and what can and can’t be recycled, it’s no wonder that people get easily confused as to what they’re actually meant to be doing with their household waste every week, or fortnight.

As an example, here’s what can and can’t be collected in the various receptacles provided to households in our local area:

Black box – mixed household plastics (items should be rinsed and – where possible – squashed flat)


  • Plastic bottles inc. milk cartons
  • Yoghurt pots
  • Margarine tubs
  • Ready meal trays
  • Plastic trays and fruit punnets


  • Plastic film
  • Carrier bags
  • Flexible packing covers
  • Polystyrene

Green box – paper and card


  • Telephone directories (do you still have one?)
  • Writing paper
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Junk mail
  • Cardboard packaging
  • Greetings cards
  • Catalogues


  • Drinks cartons (e.g. Tetra Paks)
  • Cardboard milk cartons
  • Foil and foil-lined packaging

Blue box – glass and cans (items should be rinsed and – where possible – e.g., cans, squashed flat)


  • Glass bottles
  • Jars
  • Tins and cans
  • Drinks cans
  • Empty aerosols
  • Takeaway containers and clean foil


  • Milk bottles, bottle tops and lids
  • Windows, light bulbs and broken glass
  • Drinks glasses and Pyrex dishes
  • Crisp packets, sweet wrappers and other foil lined packaging
  • Pottery, ceramics and plastics

Now this only applies to the Selby district – where we are based – and every local authority will most likely have slightly different rules and different bins or boxes etc., so we’d recommend visiting your local council website to find out exactly what you’re meant to be doing with your waste.

It’s well worth doing this, as there are often items you would expect to be fully recyclable and disposed of in a particular bin, that are not accepted – a fairly common one being shredded paper. If you’re a shredding fiend, it’s entirely possible that you shouldn’t actually be putting all your shredded paper into the bin marked for paper – although, again, you should check in your area.

Another commonly misplaced item is plastic. There are many different types and forms of plastic, some of which your council will want in a recycling bin, some of which they won’t – the regularly accepted plastics being marked 1 (PETE/PET), 2 (HDPE) and 4 (LDPE) – see the full list of plastics on our General Recyclables page.

There’s nothing worse than getting home in the evening to find that your bin hasn’t been emptied due to you putting the wrong item in there – and yes, we know that once your bin is in the street, rogue items can end up in them – but taking a few minutes to confirm your particular refuse requirements could save you some stress, and help to make sure you’re doing your small part for the environment.

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