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Tuesday, 2 October 2023

Waste and recycling: a quick guide

You can recycle a wide range of rubbish, from paper and glass to batteries, televisions and clothes. This saves energy and raw materials, and reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill sites. You can also help to reduce waste at home by composting and by repairing and reusing items.

The waste hierarchy

There are many ways of disposing of waste. The waste hierarchy lists these methods in a sliding scale, from the most environmentally friendly option to the least for many types of waste:

  1. Prevention – the best option, this focuses on reducing waste being produced in the first place
  2. Reuse – for example, using old food containers as lunch boxes or old plastic bags as bin liners
  3. Recycle – taking materials from old products to make something new, like making car parts from old metal drinks cans
  4. Energy recovery – creating energy from waste, for example by burning it to produce electricity
  5. Disposal – the worst option for most types of waste as this often involves burying rubbish in landfill

Reduce waste

Recycling can help save materials and energy. It's even better to reduce the amount of things that are wasted in the first place.

The best way of doing this is simply using less. Try asking yourself if you need a product before buying it and taking your own bags when you go shopping.

You can also be careful about what you buy. Choose items that will last longer and try to buy products you can use again instead of disposable items.

For more ideas on reducing waste, see ‘Reducing waste, reusing and repairing’.

Reuse and repair

Repairing or reusing items means that they will last longer and won’t need replacing with new items so quickly.

Even when you have finished with something, someone else will often be able to use it. Secondhand furniture, clothes and electrical items like mobiles are especially popular: why not pass them onto friends and family? You could also sell them, donate them to charity or pass them on via sharing schemes.

Try looking for items you want from auction sites or giveaway sites like Freecycle or Freegle. You may even bag yourself a bargain.

For more ideas on reusing and repairing, see ‘Reducing waste, reusing and repairing’.


Paper, glass, plastic bottles, garden waste, fridges, shoes, batteries – all of these and more can be recycled, helping to save energy and new materials.

Most councils run recycling collections from your doorstep, while waste and recycling centres (the local tip) can also accept many other materials for recycling.

An average family can double or even treble the amount they recycle. If you haven’t already started, find out how to recycle your waste by using the link below to ‘Recycling at home’.

What can be recycled

Waste and recycling centre opening times

Find locations and opening times for your local recycling centre

An average family can double or even treble the amount they recycle.

Most councils run doorstep collections for materials such as paper, glass, plastics and cardboard. Local civic amenity sites (your local tip) can also accept many other materials for recycling.

Everything can be recycled, from wood, shoes, textiles and TVs, to electrical equipment, light bulbs, fridges and freezers. Even small items of furniture can sometimes be recycled.

Check with your local council to see what can be recycled in your area.

Buy recycled products

Products made from recycled goods save raw materials and increase the demand for recycled materials. You can buy recycled household goods and fashion items like shoulder bags, plastic trays, pencil cases and aluminium foil.

Find out more by reading ‘Buying recycled products’.

Compost your garden and food waste

Around a third of all household waste collected by local authorities is organic waste (garden and food) which could be composted.

If organic waste is sent to landfill, it produces methane, which has strong climate change effects. Composting waste like tea bags, vegetable peelings, shredded paper and egg boxes reduces these climate change effects and saves valuable space in landfill sites.

It's easy to make compost, and it provides a rich and natural source of nourishment for your garden. Many councils provide compost bins at a reduced rate, so contact your local council to find out what is available in your area.

Dispose of hazardous waste items safely

Some items contain hazardous materials and need to be carefully disposed of to avoid environmental problems like water pollution. Examples of things that need to be disposed of at a proper facility include: paint, batteries, electrical equipment and oil.

Electrical equipment and batteries can all be recycled and the precious resources used to make new items.

You can find more information using the links below.

More useful links

Additional links

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Recycle your used batteries

You can recycle batteries where you see this sign

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