Recycling and rubbish

A-Z of what you can and can't recycle

Use our A-Z below to find out what items you can and can't recycle

A

Aerosol cans

Empty aerosol cans can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Important: Please do not squash or pierce aerosols.

Aluminium cans

Aluminium cans can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Aluminium foil

Items such as clean food trays, foil wrapping on biscuits and milk tops can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Important: This does not include foil wrapped crisp packets or pet food pouches.

Asbestos

Asbestos is a toxic material that was once used to make insulation and fireproofing material in construction. It is classed as hazardous waste. Important: We do not accept unwrapped asbestos; you should take household asbestos to our Hornsey Street Household Reuse and Recycling Centre wrapped up in heavy duty plastic wrapping. You can use household rubble sacks that can be bought from supermarkets.

Asbestos can be dropped off by appointment only. Call 020 8884 5645 to make an appointment. Site staff will need to know how much asbestos you need to dispose of and check that there is enough space in the asbestos container.

For hints and tips on safe removal of asbestos visit hse.gov.uk/asbestos

Ash

Small amounts of cold ash or cinders from an open fire can help to keep slugs and snails off your vegetable patch. You can also put small amounts into your general waste (non recyclable) bin at home, once cooled. Important: Never put hot ashes into a bin.

B

Baby clothes

You can recycle baby clothes and shoes at your nearest textile banks or at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre, where they will be re-used or recycled.

You can donate clothes, toys or kit (such as cots, and prams) to a local charity shop or try to sell them second hand.

Batteries - car

Car batteries may be taken to your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre for recycling. Handle with care as car batteries contain acid. You can also ask the garage to take back the old one when you purchase a new battery.

Batteries - household

Regular batteries can be recycled at any shop or supermarket that sells batteries, or at our Household Reuse and Recycling Centres. Instead of replacing batteries, why not buy rechargeable batteries? There’s no need for disposal and you can use them again and again, which will save you money.

Bikes

Bikes can be recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Blankets

Charity shops collect old blankets and duvets.

Books

You can take second hand books to a local charity shop or donate them for re-use in the media banks at your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Bric a brac

Charity shops are always on the look out for crockery, pictures, ornaments etc. And you might be able to make some money by selling items at a car boot sale. Otherwise you can take these items to your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Building materials

Building materials from your home can be taken to your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre. You can recycle hardcore material such as rubble, concrete and soil.

Bulky household items

We can collect bulky waste from your home for a small charge. Please visit our web site for more details.

Buttons

Keep them yourself to update old clothes or donate them to your local charity shop.

C

Cans

Food, drinks and pet food cans can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Cardboard and card packaging

Cardboard and cardboard packaging can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

You can re-use large cardboard sheets in the garden as a weed suppressing mulch by covering them with compost. Shredded cardboard also makes great animal bedding.

Carpet

Currently, we cannot recycle carpet and vinyl flooring at Household Reuse and Recycling Centres in north London, however you can dispose of them there.

Carrier bags

Plastic carrier bags can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home. Single use carrier bags can also be recycled at most major supermarkets. You can re-use them by keeping a stash of bags in your car boot or one in your handbag.

Important: You can say ‘no’ to unwanted plastic carrier bags and use a bag for life instead. Bags for life are readily available at most supermarkets and large chain stores, they come in a variety of styles and designs and can be used over and over again.

Cat litter

Cat litter cannot be recycled or composted so put it in your general waste (non recyclable) bin at home.

Catalogues

Catalogues can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

CDs

You can donate CDs for re-use at your local charity shop, and some charities run recycling programmes for CDs too. Alternatively, CDs in good condition can be put in the media banks at your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Chemicals

The City of London operates a household hazardous waste collection and disposal service for residents on behalf of most of the London Boroughs. They collect wrapped asbestos and boxed chemicals including paint only.

Important: You should ensure that container lids are secured, and if possible, that containers have a label.

Christmas trees (real)

If you have a door to door recycling service, we will collect your real christmas tree for recycling. We also have collection points after Christmas and you can recycle your real Christmas tree at your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Clinical waste

Clinical waste is mainly produced by hospitals, doctors' surgeries and veterinary practices, but also arises from residential homes, nursing homes and private households.

If you are a resident treating yourself at home and have either syringes, sharps and needles (of any kind) or swabs, soiled dressings or similar soiled wastes you should seek advice from your GP, doctor's surgery or local council about free collections.

Important: There are companies that offer services for commercial premises. Please see the waste disposal services section of the Yellow Pages or yell.com for more information.

Clothes

Recycle these at your local charity shop, textile recycling site or the Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Coat hangers

You should leave unwanted coat hangers at the shop when you buy items as they cannot be recycled in north London. Otherwise you can take them to your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Some dry cleaners are happy to accept donations of wire coat hangers.

Coins

Foreign coins and out of date British currency can be taken to your local charity shop. Many banks will collect them too - ask your local branch for details.

Computers

You can take your computer to your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre or request a free collection.

Cookers

You can take your cooker to your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre or request a bulky waste collection.

Cooking oil

Simply collect cooking oil in a empty plastic or glass bottle, once it has cooled, and take it to the Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

After the cooking oil has been collected it is converted into high quality bio-fuel for the distribution and power generation industries. Important: old cooking oil can be home composted, though it's best to mix well with paper or cardboard first.

Crisp packets

These cannot be recycled as they are made from a combination of metal and plastic. You should put them in your general waste bin.

D

DIY waste

General DIY waste from your household can be taken to your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre. DIY generated by a builder or contractor should be disposed of by them as part of their contract with you.

Duvets and pillows

These cannot easily be recycled and should not be placed in textile recycling sites. If they are ‘as new’ some homeless or animal charities may be interested. Pillow cases can be reused as household cleaning cloths. Otherwise they can go into the rubbish.

E

Egg cartons

Cardboard or plastic egg cartons can be recycled as normal. Cardboard egg cartons can also be composted at home.

Egg shells

You can recycle egg shells in your garden and food recycling bin at home. Cleaned and crushed egg shells can be added to your compost as they contain lime, which helps to reduce acidity in the soil.

Electrical items

Any electrical items, large or small, can be recycled at your reuse and recycling centres (RRCs). If your large electrical items, such as washing machines, are still working and in a useable condition, your local re-use organisation may be able to refurbish them and give them a new lease of life and a new home. Some electrical items, like iPads and iPods can also be sold online.

There is much more information about recycling and reusing electrical items on our Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment web pages

Important: Electrical items should not be disposed of in your general waste.

Energy saving lightbulbs

Although standard lightbulbs cannot be recycled, energy saving lightbulbs will last longer and can be taken to your local reuse and recycling centres and recycled in the fluorescent tubes container.

Engine oil

Used engine oil discarded down storm drains can cause considerable environmental damage if it leaches into watercourses and/or groundwater. Oil can be disposed of at your reuse and recycling centres.

Envelopes

Envelopes can be recycled can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home. There is no need to remove the plastic window.

Envelopes in good condition can be re-used by putting a re-use label over the old address and writing the new postal address on.

F

Florescent tubes/bulbs

These can be recycled at your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Foam/polystyrene chips

You can dispose of polystyrene and foam chips in your general waste bin or take them to your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre for disposal. But why not re-use them where possible, for example, for packaging, beanbags or drainage in plant pots.

Foil

Items such as clean food trays, foil wrapping on biscuits and milk tops can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Important: This does not include foil wrapped crisp packets or pet food pouches.

Food

Many residents have a food waste recycling service from home. Check your recycling service here (Your Local Area…)

Important: Please do not use plastic bags to line your caddy. Compostable liners are available from your local council or shopping outlets such as garden centres and supermarkets.

Foreign currency

Foreign coins and out of date British currency can be taken to your local charity shop. Many banks will collect them too - ask your local branch for details.

Fridges and freezers

Fridges and freezers can be recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre or we can arrange a collection for a small charge. If your large electrical items are still working and in a useable condition, your local re-use organisation may be able to refurbish them and give them a new lease of life.

Furniture

We can collect bulky waste from your home for a small charge. You can also consider donating your reusable furniture to a local reuse organisation such as Bright Sparks.

Please visit our web site for more details.


G

Garden Waste

You can recycle your garden waste using your garden waste recycling bin at home, or recycle it at your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Don't forget you can also compost at home.

Gas cylinders

These should be returned to the issuing company. Their address is usually shown on the label on the cylinder. They can also be taken to your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre

Glass (plate)

Unfortunately there are currently no recycling schemes for plate glass. Please do not put plate glass into glass recycling banks or your home collection which are for bottles and jars only. If you are unable to re-use your old plate glass, please take it to your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Glass (Pyrex)

Pyrex cannot be recycled in your mixed recycling bin. Pyrex can be taken to your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Glass bottles and jars

Glass bottles and jars can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Please remember to rinse out the bottles and jars and put the lids into your recycling container separately.

Glasses

Some opticians and charity shops will accept old spectacles for repair and shipment to developing countries.

Greeting cards

Greetings cards can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

But why not re-use the front of your best cards for gift tags?

I

Ink cartridges and toners

There are many charities which welcome unwanted ink cartridges. You can also find local stores who will refill ink cartridges so you can re-use them.

iPod / iPad

Smal electrical items can be recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centres or at local small electrical item recycling sites. Some electrical items, like iPads and iPods can also be sold online.

Important: Electrical items should not be disposed of in your general waste.

J

Jewellery

Unwanted jewellery can be given to charity shops. Or if you want to make some extra cash you could try selling it online.

Jewellery should not be put in with normal mixed recycling.

Junk mail

Junk mail can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Please visit our junk mail page for more information about avoiding junk mail.

K

Knitting needles

An organisation called Tools for Self Reliance send knitting needles and crates of sewing machines to developing countries.

To find out more about how you can help this charity visit tfsr.org.uk

L

Lightbulbs

Standard lightbulbs cannot be recycled, so you should not put them in your recycling bins at home.

Try switching to low energy alternatives (energy saving lightbulbs), which save you money in the long term and can be recycled at all Household Reuse and Recycling Centres (in the fluorescent tubes container) along with any fluorescent tube lighting you need to recycle.

M

Magazines

Unwanted magazines can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

You can also share your magazines with friends and family or donate them to your local doctor, dentist or hairdresser.

Mattress

You can also dispose of used mattresses at your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre or you can book a bulky waste collection.

Medicines and tablets

Medicines and tablets are classed as hazardous waste. If you have any left-over medicines you should consult your local chemist, pharmacy or hospital on how best to dispose of them.

Metal

You can recycle metal at your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre, or take it to any scrap metal merchant.

Important: larger metal items cannot be collected as household waste or in your normal recycling collection.

Mobile phones

Many of the main supermarkets and chain stores provide Freepost envelopes in store so you can post old mobile phones for recycling. Most mobile phone providers will also do this when you upgrade your handset or purchase a new phone. There are also many charity collections operating or you could sell your old mobile phone online.

N

Nappies

Disposable nappies are not recyclable and should be placed in your general waste bin. Disposable nappies are not biodegradable and may take between 300 and 500 years to break down in landfill sites.

Real nappies are a much more environmentally friendly and cost effective alternative. Visit our real nappy pages for more information.

Needle-sticks and syringes

You should dispose of these as per the supplier's instructions, usually by them sealing in a container and putting the container in the general waste (non recyclable) bin at home. Important: Please do not place these items in your recycling bin - needle-sticks or syringes cannot be recycled or re-used.

Newspapers

All newspapers can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

O

Oil (cooking)

Simply collect cooking oil in a empty plastic or glass bottle, once it has cooled, and take it to the Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

After the cooking oil has been collected it is converted into high quality bio-fuel for the distribution and power generation industries. Important: old cooking oil can be home composted, though it's best to mix well with paper or cardboard first.

Oil (engine)

Engine oil can be recycled at your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre. You can also ask your local garage if they collect it.

Important: Pouring oil down drains is illegal and burning oil can lead to a £2000 fine. Waste engine oil can easily be recycled.

Organic waste

Please see food or garden waste.

P

Packaging

Many items we buy come with lots of packaging. You can reduce packaging waste in lots of ways, for example, by buying loose products or products with minimal, reusable or recyclable packaging. Check individual items to see if they can be recycled using your at-home recycling service, or at Household Reuse and Recycling Centres.

Paint

You cannot bring paint tines to the Hornsey Street Reuse and Recycling Centre (it is an enclosed site and not sufficiently ventilated). Please find details of other local Household Reuse and Recycling Centres for safe disposal of paint.

Important: Paint must not be poured down the drain.

Paper

Paper can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Pet bedding

You can compost your pet bedding in your home compost bin. Otherwise you can dispose of pet bedding at a Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Pillows and duvets

See Duvets and Pillows.

Plasterboard

This must be separated from other waste as it contains gypsum. Check to see if your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centres will dispose of plasterboard.

Plastic bags

Plastic carrier bags can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled. Single use carrier bags can also be recycled at most major supermarkets. You can re-use them by keeping a stash of bags in your car boot or one in your handbag.

Important: You can say ‘no’ to unwanted plastic carrier bags and use a bag for life instead. Bags for life are readily available at most supermarkets and large chain stores, they come in a variety of styles and designs and can be used over and over again.

Plastic

Plastics can cause confusion when recycling. Most plastic packaging can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Hard plastics

You can currently recycle hard (rigid plastics) at South Access, Regis Road, Western Road, Kings Road and Hornsey Street Household Reuse and Recycling Centres. This includes:

• Wheeled bins
• Recycling bins
• Milk and beer crates
• Packing crates
• Car bumpers
• Children’s toys and games
• Pipes
• Buckets
• Hard plastic containers

Important: Plastics with small amounts of surface contamination are acceptable, heavy soiling with such substances as mud, cement, paint or adhesive should be excluded. Plastic drums and buckets are acceptable as long as residual contamination has been rinsed out.

Polystyrene/foam chips

You can dispose of polystyrene and foam chips in your general waste bin or take them to your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre for disposal. But why not re-use them where possible, for example, for packaging, beanbags or drainage in plant pots.

Pottery

Some charity shops will take certain pottery items. Or you can re-use broken pottery in the bottom of plant pots for drainage. Pottery can also be recycled at your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Pyrex glass

Pyrex cannot be recycled in your mixed recycling bin. Pyrex can be taken to your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

S

Scrap metal

You can recycle metal at your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre, or take it to any scrap metal merchant.

Sewing machines and sewing accessories

Sewing machines and accessories are accepted by an organisation called Tools for Self Reliance who send them to developing countries. To find out more about how you can help this charity visit tfsr.org.uk.

Shoes

Some charity shops accept shoes or they can be recycled in pairs in the textile banks at your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Spectacles

Some opticians and charity shops will accept old spectacles for repair and shipment to developing countries.

Stamps

Many charities accept used stamps as they can benefit from re-using them.

Sun beds

Household sun beds can be taken to your nearest Household Reuse and Recycling Centre. Important: The sun bed must be dismantled before being taken to a recycling centre. The fluorescent tubes must be removed from the frame and then placed in the dedicated container. The frame can be placed in the electrical recycling container.

T

Telephone directories

Telephone directories can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Textiles

Clothes in good condition can be re-used. Clothes can be passed onto friends and relatives, taken to charity shops or to a jumble sale, or you may be able to sell clothes online. Your Household Reuse and Recycling Centres provide textiles banks where you can put unwanted clothes, sheets, towels and pairs of shoes.

Tissues

Tissues can be put in home compost bins or disposed of in the general waste bin.

Tools

Tools for Self Reliance collect and refurbish hand tools (except gardening tools), for free shipment to developing countries. You can deliver the tools or they can be collected if necessary.

Toys and games

Unwanted toys and games can be donated to your local doctor's surgery or community centre where they can be re-used. Many games console stores will also trade older computer games for new ones and then sell them on to new customers. Most charity shops will also accept donations of toys and games.

Computer games and complete childrens’ games can also can be donated in the media banks at your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

If the toy is made made from hard (rigid) plastic you can recycle it at many of the Household Reuse and Recycling Centres.

Tyres

Over 38 million tyres are discarded in the UK each year, sometimes illegally. If you get your tyres changed at a garage they will dispose of the old ones for you.

V

Vending cups

Plastic vending can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

You can wash out and re-use vending cups for parties or picnics, or put a hole in the bottom and use them for growing seedlings.

Video cassettes

Damaged or worn video cassettes should be disposed of in your general waste bin. Unused cassettes can be donated to charity shops, see your local directory for details. Video cassettes in good condition can be donated via the media banks at your local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre

W

Wrapping paper

Wrapping paper can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre

Y

Yellow Pages

Yellow Pages and other telephone directories can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

Yoghurt pots

Yoghurt pots can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home or recycled at your Household Reuse and Recycling Centre.

If you do not want to throw them away, you could also clean them and re-use them as mini storage containers or planters for kitchen herbs.

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