What can you recycle?

What can we recycle & how can we recycle it? Find out the answer to these simple, but critical, questions here so you can do your bit for the environment!


what can you recycle: plastic crates full of empty plastic packaging and rubbish

Key Steps

  1. Check if your waste is recyclable. Read our article on zero waste living for tips on reducing the amount of rubbish and recycling you produce to begin with.
  2. Wash any packaging that contained food before placing them in the recycling.
  3. Put your recycling out for collection each week. Check out our ideas for recycling storage if you struggle to find room for everything.
  4. If your local council doesn't collect certain types of recycling then check for nearby recycling centres or consider reusing your rubbish at home - food scraps are the perfect way to start composting. Read more about composting in our sustainability article.

Many of us are now choosing to recycle our household waste in an effort to become more environmentally friendly, but there’s still a lot of confusion about what can, and what cannot, be recycled. The good news is that many different materials can be recycled, although what we can recycle at home, and what we can recycle at local recycle centres does vary.

Home recycling options will differ based on what your local council will accept, but generally you can recycle the following items at home:

  • Plastic Bottles – including drinks bottles, toiletry bottles, and cleaning solution bottles
  • Cardboard – including egg boxes, cereal boxes, and old toilet roll / kitchen roll tubes
  • Paper – including magazines, newspapers, junk mail, directories, and plain wrapping paper
  • Glass – including glass food jars, wine and spirit bottles, and old mason jars
  • Metal Tins – including fizzy drinks cans, food cans, and tins made from steel or aluminium

Recycling these items at home really can make a huge difference to the environment. You can also do your part by recycling other materials, too. Old clothing and textiles, broken electrics, and furniture can all be recycled at your local recycling centre.

Making plastic bottles from recycled plastic uses 75% less energy than it does to make plastic bottles from non-recycled materials!

How Can We Recycle?

Unfortunately, some of what we want to recycle may not be suitable for recycling. This is often because the material contains other materials or substances that cannot be made into recycled material. That’s why it’s so important for us to know how to recycle, and how to prepare our waste for the recycling process.

  • How to recycle plastic – Rinse with washing up liquid and remove spray nozzles
  • How to recycle cardboard/paper – Ensure any sticky tape / packing tape is removed
  • How to recycle glass – Rinse with washing up liquid and remove corks
  • How to recycle metal tins – rinse with washing up liquid, beware of sharp edges

In the UK, we’re very fortunate that we have many different choices for how we dispose of our recycling. Scheduled local council collections are one option, but we can also visit recycling centres, use the collection bins in supermarket car parks, or arrange for special council collections for larger goods.

Recycling Made Easy!

Recycling doesn’t have to be difficult. By organising your kitchen and keeping your recycling bins tidy, doing your part for the environment is actually really simple. If you plan on popping to a local recycling centre, or taking your waste to the bins at your local supermarket, it’s a good idea to keep similar materials together for ease. This means that when you reach the recycled paper bin, for example, you can toss your paper collection in without needing to sort through a big pile of cans and glass bottles!

Unfortunately, while many of us are making the effort to do our part, it’s estimated that around 60% of the waste we throw out could have been recycled. Therefore, it’s very important that we learn more about what can be recycled, and the best ways to recycle, to ensure we’re doing everything we can to protect the future of our planet and set a great example for future generations. For more tips, check out our other recycling article!

Originally published