A-Z of Recycling
It's not only rubbish that can be recycled. Most household goods can be recycled and made into new things.
Thought of something we haven't? Contact us and we'll find the answer.
Aerosols can be recycled with your mixed recycling. Make sure they're empty and put them in your recycling bag, basket or bin for collection.
Aluminium foil and lids:
Please see foil.
Waste and recycling collection arrangements do not change for bank holidays except on Christmas Day when there are no residential collections. Keep an eye out for the Westminster Reporter, e-newsletter and website if Christmas Day falls on your normal collection day. Micro Recycling Centres will be open 8am to 8pm on Christmas Day.
Westminster residents can recycle household batteries (lead and dry cell) at local libraries, CityWest Homes estate offices and the mobile recycling centre. Selected schools also have a battery collection container for use by their pupils and parents.
High street retailers that sell batteries such as Boots, Tesco, Sainsbury and Ryness also accept batteries for recycling .
Instead of buying normal batteries, why not buy rechargable batteries - they last longer and are better for the environment.
Car batteries can be recycled at the Reuse and Recycling Centre or ask your supplier to take the old one back.
See also mobile phone.
You can now buy biodegradable or recycled bin liners in most supermarkets.
Find out about other recycled household items
Blue recycling bags and black boxes:
The council delivers blue bags twice a year. If you run out call us on 020 7641 2000 and we will deliver some more. You can also pick blue bags up at libraries.
If you find that your recycling box cannot fit all your recyclable materials in feel free to order another box.
All items bought at The Body Shop can be returned for recycling.
Books in good condition can be donated to the many charity shops around Westminster or you could try using a site like www.readitswapit.co.uk or www.bookmooch.com where you can swap your old books for someone else's.
You can also bring your books to the mobile recycling centre, and there are 10 bins for books in Westminster at the following locations:
- Paddington Street , (Outside Paddington Street Gardens) W1U 4JT
- Inverness Terrace W2 6JA (by entrance to Hallfield Estate)
- Moscow Road W2 4JS (outside LEB substation)
- Warwick Avenue W9 2PT(By Tube Station)
- Marylebone Road NW1 5PT (Outside Council House)
- Marylebone Road NW1 5LS (junction with Luxborough Street)
- Aberdeen Place W9 1AE (junction with Cunningham Street)
- Acacia Road NW8 6DN (outside St John's Wood Station)
- Wellington Place NW8 7PB (near public toilet)
- Erasmus Street SW1P 4HX (Junction with Cureton Street)
The books are collected by the charity READ International and sorted; those suitable and in good condition are distributed among schools in East Africa or sold online to raise funds, those unsaleable are recycled.
Bottles and jars:
Bottles and jars can be recycled. Just put them in your recycling bag, basket or bin for collection. Please rinse before recycling, and include bottle tops and jar lids.
We can't recycle bubblewrap at the moment but it can be easily reused to wrap up valuables which are going in storage or being posted. If you cannot reuse it put it in with your rubbish.
See Light bulbs
Bulky household waste
Cans and tins can be recycled. Just put them in your recycling bag, basket or bin for collection. (Please rinse out first).
Find out what happens to your recycling
Make sure that any staples are taken out of boxes or packaging and squash the cardboard flat. It can then be recycled in your bag, basket or bin.
What else can I recycle?
We cannot take carpets for recycling. Please do not leave carpets out with your normal rubbish for collection as you could be fined. Call the Environment Action Line to arrange a bulk waste collection on 020 7641 2000.
You can now recycle cartons in your mixed recycling container (blue bags, boxes or baskets) as well as by placing them in mixed recycling bins and the 60+ cans/plastic bottle bins across the city.
Or you can bring them to the mobile recycling centre.
Remember to rinse and squash your cartons, and screw the lids back on before recycling.
The cartons will be sorted from the other items at the Materials Recycling Facility.
See Videos, CDs and DVDs.
Flatten down the cardboard and add them to your recycling bag, basket or bin for collection.
What else can I recycle?
China plates and ornaments:
If these are unbroken, you can donate these to a charity shop. Otherwise please put these in your rubbish as they cannot be recycled.
Old cards and paper can be re-used for making present tags or paperchains. Otherwise, you can recycle them by putting them in your recycling bag, basket or bin for collection. Remember: metallic paper cannot be recycled - try not to buy it!
After Christmas, you can recycle your tree by taking it to one of our collection sites.
Civic Amenity Sites
Sorry, we can't collect clingfilm for recycling. Reduce the amount of clingfilm you use by storing sandwiches and food in sealable plastic containers.
All your unwanted clothing, in good or poor condition, can be taken to a SCOPE textile bin. See Textile recycling.
Most coffee cups cannot currently be recycled as they can cause problems with our sorting machines and contaminate the paper stream. Why not reduce the number of coffee cups you use by using a reusable coffee cup or mug.
Most charities have a scheme where you can donate your unwanted foreign currency.
Composting in Westminster is easy. Discounted composting bins are available to all Westminster residents.
Find out more about composting
If your computer is in good working order you could try selling it using local classified advertisements or online on ebay. If you can't sell it you could give it away within your community using freecycle.
Alternatively computers, IT equipment and flat screen monitors up to 16" screen size can be taken to one of our small appliances recycling bins. See electrical goods for details.
Old-style CRT computer monitors are classified as hazardous waste. See electrical goods for details.
Also see printer cartidges.
Any item mixed with recycling that is not specified on the container is 'contamination'. Large amounts of contamination can lead to the rest of the recycling in the container, or recycling lorry, being disposed of as rubbish rather than being processed for recycling. Common 'contaminants' include plastic films, polystyrene, food and household items.
Natural corks can be used to make a notice board or, if sliced finely, can be put in a compost bin. Plastic corks cannot be recycled.
All households in Westminster have a doorstep recycling service.
Drinks bottles and cans:
These can be recycled - just put them in your recycling bag, basket or bin for collection. Please rinse out your bottles before you put them out.
Find out what else can be recycled
Duvets and pillows:
If these are clean and in good condition, charity shops will take them. Alternatively, take them to one of our textile banks. Don't put them out with your rubbish as you could be fined. Contact the Environmental Action Line on 020 7641 2000 to arrange a bulky waste collection.
Cardboard eggboxes can be torn up and added to your compost bin or they can be added to your mixed recycling.
Plastic eggboxes, like other plastic trays, can now also be recycled in Westminster.
Find out what can and can't be recycled.
All waste electrical and electronic equipment must be collected seperately from general rubbish to be reused or recycled.
You can also bring your small appliances to the mobile recycling centre.
We can accept the following items in the small appliances recycling bins:
- Phones and chargers
- Remote controls
- Electronic toys
- Electric toothbrushes
- Hair straighteners
- Small DIY tools
- Keyboards, mice, speakers etc
NB the chute size is 40 cm (16").
We can't accept these items:
- TV monitors
- Light bulbs
- Anything that will not fit in the chute (over 40 cm or 16" in size)
*Please note technically you can recycle computers using these bins, but there have been cases of theft of electrical items from the bins and we are not liable for the theft of personal data from your equipment if placed in the recycling bins, and residents are advised they should remove SIM cards from mobile phones. A guaranteed safe method of disposal of computers is to use your retailer's take back scheme, arrange a bulky waste collection with us, or take your computer to one of the reuse and recycling centres.
Before considering disposal please consider repair. Companies exists that are happy to repair a range of large electrical items. One example is here. Westminster City Council does not endorse a particular company for repairs and accept no responsibility for any agreements entered into.
Fridges, freezers, other large domestic appliances, old-style TVs, computers etc that no longer work can be taken to the Reuse and Recycling centres.
Alternatively you can arrange a bulky waste collection at a cost of £20 for up to 10 items: call the Environmental Action Line on 020 7641 2000. All electrical items collected will be recycled.
Switch off electrical appliances not in use. Televisions, computers and stereos still use 50% of the electricity on standby as they do when they're on.
If you can't reuse old envelopes, recycle them. You don't need to remove the transparent window - just put it in your recycling basket, bag or bin.
Environment Action Line:
If you have any questions about recycling, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 020 7641 2000.
It's easy to recycle on your estate. Find out how.
Old fabric can be dropped off for reuse or recycling in the SCOPE clothes & shoes bins around the City.
See Textile recycling.
Cooking fat should not be poured down the drain as it causes blockages. Seal it in a container and put it out with your normal rubbish. Alternatively, mix it with bird seed and leave it to solidify. You can then put it out on your windowsill or from a tree and feed the birds in the winter.
To reduce unwanted marketing faxes, register with the Fax Preference Service on 0845 0700 702 or register online at mpsonline. Recycle any you do get.
See Water filters.
Everyone in Westminster has access to a recycling service. If you live in a portered block, ask your porter for details on the recycling service in your block.
Aluminium foil and foil trays can be recycled with your mixed recycling. To recycle your foil please clean it thoroughly and compress it into a ball or push it into an alumnium can. Loose sheets of foil cannot be distinguished easily from paper at our materials recovery facility.
Please note crisp packets and other foil-like films cannot be recycled; they need to go in with your household rubbish.
Save your family £50 a month by planning your shopping better, using up leftovers and making the most of your fridge/freezer.
Research suggests food waste makes up the largest part of a household's rubbish so throwing out less food waste can help the environment and save you money.
For loads of information on how your household can reduce food waste and save money, visit Love Food Hate Waste.
Freezers and fridges:
From the 1st July 2007, the WEEE (Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment) Directive requires WEEE to be collected seperately from general waste to be reused or recycled. For more information on WEEE click here or to contact recycling.
To recycle your freezer or fridge, see Large electrical appliances.
There are lots of companies who will take old furniture for recycling or you can donate it to charity shops and second-hand shops.
If your items are in good condition, you could try selling them second hand using local classified adverts or by using websites such as ebay. Alternatively you can give them away using local networks such as freecycle.
Alternatively you can arrange a bulky waste collection by
calling the Environmental Action Line on 020 7641 2000. Any items suitable for reuse will be donated to charity and the remainder will be landfilled. Please do not put furniture out with your rubbish as you could be fined.
Westminster residents can also take furniture to the Reuse or Recycling Centre at Smuggler's Way SW18
See also, office furniture
Garden chemicals are classified as hazardous household waste and must be disposed of carefully. Contact 020 7332 3433 for the hazardous household waste collection and disposal service which is free of charge.
Using a compost bin or heap is the best option for your garden and for the environment. See composting.
Alternatively please dispose of your garden waste with your normal rubbish. Large trunks and logs will require a special collection which can be arranged by calling the Environmental Action Line on 020 7641 2000.
Gas bottles are classified as hazardous household waste and must be disposed of carefully, due to the trace amounts of gas that may remain and cause explosions at the recycling facilities.
In most instances the company or organisation that provided the gas cylinder will arrange to collect it so that they can re-use it. If the cylinder is an LP gas cylinder the customer should contact the LP Gas Association on: 08457 626379
Wrapping paper can be recycled as normal in your basket, bag or bin. Avoid metallic paper as it cannot be recycled.
Glass bottles and jars can be recycled. Just put them in your recycling bag, basket or bin for collection.
Broken sheet glass, window pane glass, mirrors, pyrex and filament light bulbs (non-energy saving) cannot be recycled as they are made of a different type of glass. Please wrap in newspaper and add to your household rubbish.
Old glasses in good condition can be donated for developing countries around the world. Ask your local optician if they collect them or send them in a sturdy box to Vision Aid Overseas, 12 The Bell Centre, Manor Royal, Crawley, W. Sussex, RH10 2FZ.
Westminster residents can also take spectacles to the Reuse or Recycling Centre at Smuggler's Way SW18
Grass can be composted easily. See composting.
To find out what the council is doing to encourage green living see our green pages.
Hazardous household waste
Chemicals, batteries, electronic equipment and liquid paint are all classified as hazardous waste and should not be disposed of with your rubbish or mixed recycling.
In most homes over 50% of materials put in the household rubbish bin can be recycled.
What can I recycle?
Westminster residents can take a large range of household items such as TVs, furniture and garden waste to the Reuse or Recycling Centre at Smuggler's Way ., SW18
See printer cartidges.
Glass jars can be recycled. Just put them in your recycling bag, basket or bin for collection.
What else can I recycle?
To stop receiving unsolicited addressed mail, register with the Mailing Preference Service.
You can now buy recycled kitchen towel from supermarkets. Better still, use cotton dish cloths, which can be re-used. Kitchen towels cannot be recycled in Westminster.
You don't have to remove the labels from cans and bottles. Just remember to rinse them out before you recycle them.
Laser toner cartridges:
See printer cartidges.
Leaves can be put into your compost bin. See composting. If you have no access to a compost bin place the leaves in your waste bags.
Put jar lids, metal screw caps, plastic bottle tops, tray lids and clean plastic yoghurt pot lids in with your normal recycling.
Energy saving light bulbs and fluorescent tubes contain small amounts of mercury, which is hazardous, and should not be put into your rubbish or mixed recycling.
Energy saving light bulbs should be taken for recycling to the Reuse and Recycling Centre at Smuggler's Way , the mobile recycling centre in Pimlico, or to selected retailers such as Ryness. There are several Ryness stores in or near Westminster:
- 37 Goodge Street, W1T 2PU
- 45 Old Compton Street, W1D 6HH
- 45 Westbourne Grove, W2 4UA
- 8 Strutton Ground, Victoria, SW1P 2HP
Filament bulbs (old-style, halogen or non-energy saving) cannot be recycled and should be put in your household rubbish, wrapped in paper.
Replace your old light bulbs with energy saving ones they last eight times longer, use a quarter of the energy and give the same brightness. LED lighting, though more expensive, is becoming a better long-term investment as it is even more energy-efficient.
Look out for toilet paper made from recycled paper - most supermarkets now stock it. When the roll is finished, you can put the cardboard roll in your normal recycling collection.
Magazines can be recycled. Put them in your recycling basket, bag or bin for collection.
Mattresses can be recycled through furniture recycling organisations. Don't put them out with your rubbish as you could be fined. Contact the Environment Action Line on 020 7641 2000 to arrange a bulky waste collection.
Unfinished bottles of medicines or tablets should be returned to your local chemist.
Metal tins and cans can be recycled. Just put it out in your bag or basket or put it in your local recycling bin.
Scrap metal can be taken to the Reuse and Recycling Centre at Smuggler's Way .
If you have a small electrical item made of metal such as a microwave you can take it to one of the small electrical bins in Westminster.
Plastic milk bottles can be recycled and should be added to your mixed recycling.
Glass milk bottles cannot be recycled - they are made from a different kind of glass to other bottles and jars. Please return them to your milkman or to the shop you bought them from.
Milk containers (plastic):
Rinse these out, squash and add them to your mixed recycling.
Milk containers (carton/Tetra Pak):
Rinse these out, squash and add them to your mixed recycling.
If they are intact and reusable try your local second furniture store. Alternatively, use eBay or freecycle.
Large mirrors can be collected as part of the bulky waste collection service. Call 020 7641 2000 to organise a collection. Don't put them out with your rubbish as you could be fined.
Missed recycling collection:
Did we miss your recycling? There may be a reason for this. Was the box or bag put out on time? Did it have the correct materials in it? Were the containers washed out?
If the answer is yes to all of these questions, call 020 7641 2000.
You could also take your paper, glass, cans and other materials to your local micro-recycling centre.
Simply Drop, Greensource, Oxfam, Redeem and Scope will all accept your old mobiles and chargers. Contact any of them to find out how to donate, or contact us to request an envelope. Alternatively bring your phones and chargers to the mobile recycling centre.
Please remove all SIM cards.
Although nappies can't be recycled, you can use real (cloth) nappies to help protect the environment. Westminster offer a rebate for the washing of nappies.It is £48 for all residents who decide to use real nappies for the first time. Find out more about real nappies.
These can be recycled. Put them in your box, bag or bin for collection.
What happens to my recycling?
Every residential property in Westminster should now have access to the recycling collection service. Please use the search facility to check if your building has a service.
If your building is not serviced please telephone the Environment Action Line on 020 7641 2000 or email the recycling team email@example.com.
Contact Loop Environmental Network, London Recycling, New Leaf Recycling or Office Green to organise a collection of your old office furniture
Westminster City Council offer a commercial collection service.
Engine oil and cooking oil can be taken to the Reuse and Recycling Centres at Smuggler's Way .Cooking oil should never be poured down the sink. As a last resort cooking oil can be put into a container and placed in your normal rubbish.
Most packaging can be recycled using the recycling services in Westminster
If an item cannot be recycled try to reduce the amount of this type of packaging you purchase at the supermarket. When you next go out shopping, make an active choice not to buy goods which have a lot of packaging (e.g. If you can, choose to purchase loose fruit and vegetables rather than pre-packed).
For more information on the work being carried out nationally to reduce the amount of packaging being wasted please visit the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) website.
Leftover paint can be donated to Community Repaint for use by individuals, families and organisations in need. There are several collection points in London which can be found on the Community Repaint website.
For small quantities of paint remove the lid and leave the paint to dry out, or dry it out on some newspaper, and then put it out with your household rubbish. Liquid paint is hazardous to the collection crews and should not be put out for collection.
For larger quantities (up to 50L) you can arrange a free collection. See the hazardous household waste page for details.
All forms of paper can be recycled. Junk mail, letters, envelopes, birthday cards, office paper, telephone directories, magazines, card and cardboard - all can be added to your normal recycling.
See also books
If your pet's food comes in a can, it can be recycled. Rinse it out and add it to your recycling.
You can now recycle plastic bottles, pots, tubs and food trays, including plastic tops and lids.
It is not particularly helpful to look at the plastic types, as in Westminster you can recycle all of types 1 & 2 but only some of types 5 & 6.
If an item cannot be recycled try to reduce the amount of this type of plastic you purchase at the supermarket. When you next go out shopping, make an active choice not to buy goods which have a lot of plastic packaging (e.g. If you can, choose to purchase loose fruit and vegetables rather than pre-packed).
Over ten billion plastic bags are used each year in the UK - about 167 per person.
Plastic bags can't be recycled in Westminster as they are very lightweight and get caught between the sheets of paper at the sorting facility. They can then damage the machinery at the paper recycling plant.
When you next go shopping, why not take some plastic bags with you. Better still, purchase a "Bag for Life" or take a canvas bag to carry your shopping in - not only are they stronger but they can be reused many times.
This cannot be recycled. When buying new things, make a conscious effort to buy things with as little packaging as possible. More and more distributors are also switching to eco-friendly alternatives such as starch- and wool-based padding.
Some charities collect old stamps to raise money. Try searching on the internet to see if your favourite charity runs a stamp collection scheme. If you cannot find a charity then send them to the Royal National Institute for the Blind.
Alternatively you can leave them on the envelope and put the envelope in your recycling bag/box.
You can refill many different types of printer cartridges or recycle them by taking them to specialist shops such as Cartridge World.
Redeem and other charities and organisations will take your used printer cartridges and recondition and refill them. They are then resold. Try to contact your favourite charity first to see if they have an appeal you can contribute to.
You can request a Freepost envelope that you can send your inkjet cartridges for recycling by visiting Simply Drop. Alternatively send us an email with your name and address and we will send you one .
You can also bring your cartridges to the mobile recycling centre every Sunday in Pimlico.
This can not be recycled as it can explode when heated up in the glass recycling furnace. If you have broken pyrex glass, wrap it carefully and put it out with your normal rubbish collection.
Do you have any questions? Call us on 020 7641 2000 or contact the recycling team.
If you have a garden, why not collect rainwater in a water butt for use on your plants? You can buy water butts for your garden with free delivery to your home by using the special offer for Westminster residents. Click here for details.
To contact the recycling team call 020 7641 2000 or use the online contact form.
Soil and rubble can be taken to Smuggler's Way. Don't put it out with your rubbish as you could be fined.
Alternatively, you could hire a skip or skip bags. Check in your telephone directory or search the internet to find local skip hire companies.
Schools are entitled to a free recycling service. If you would like your school to get involved, contact us or call the Environmental Action Line on 020 7641 2000
Find out more about recycling at school
See plastic bags
We accept shredded paper but if you put it in a paper envelope it will help our recycling machines to turn the paper into new products more easily.
Around a third of all the food we buy ends up being thrown away and most of this could have been eaten. It's not just peelings, cores and bones, but rather excess food from cooked meals, and food that ends up passing its use by date.
Did you know? If we stopped wasting food which could have been eaten, It would have the same impact on reducing carbon emissions as taking 1 in 5 cars off UK roads.
Here are a few tips to being a smart shopper:
- Shop more carefully. Use a shopping list - only buy the things you really need (you'll save money too)
- Avoid over packaging - Do you need to buy items individually wrapped? Is the wrapping made from recycled materials?
- Buy local produce where possible.
- Avoid 2 for 1 offers - think, will you get through the additional product before it's use by date?
- Look out for recycled products - toilet rolls, tissues, bin bags and paper products.
- Buy refill items where possible - washing powders, fabric conditioners and refillable cartridges.
- Take your own reusable shopping bags to the supermarket - the UK gets through 8 billion plastic bags every year.
- Get a compost bin wormery to compost food scraps.
There are more useful hints and tips from Love Food Hate Waste.
Takeaway food containers:
If the container is made of plastic you can clean it and place it in your recycling. Polystryrene containers cannot be recycled in Westminster. The best action for the environment is to find an alternative use for the containers such as storing small DIY parts.
See Electrical Goods
Old-style TVs (CRT screens) are classified as hazardous waste and must be disposed of carefully.
Your unwanted clothing and fabrics can be reused or recycled by donating at one of our on street SCOPE textile recycling bins. Place all your clothes, shoes, belts, bags, duvets, sheets, curtains and table cloths together in the bin, ensuring all material is clean. All items suitable for reuse will be sold at a SCOPE charity shop in London and any items unsuitable for reuse will be recycled. You can also give your textiles to the mobile recycling centre in Pimlico on Sundays.
Textile recycling bank locations are listed here
Timber and wood:
Small amounts of small items such as wooden spoons and chopping boards can be put in the refuse.
See loo rolls
Most charity shops and other organisations will accept toys in good condition. Alternatively bring them to the mobile recycling centre for reuse or recycling.
See junk mail.
Vegetable peel can be put into your compost bin. See composting.
Old videos, CDs and DVDs in working order can be donated to your local charity shop or bring them to the mobile recycling centre for recycling.
Watch our recycling video here
Washing powder boxes:
Squash them flat and add them to your recycling.
There are many ways you can reduce, reuse and recycle water in the home:
- Keep a bottle of water in the fridge instead of running the tap until the water runs cold
- Don't leave the tap running as you brush your teeth, wash your hands or shave
- Shower instead of bath
- Put a "hippo" or brick in your loo cistern to reduce the amount of water used with each flush
- Use a waterbutt to collect any rain for watering houseplants
See also rainwater
We are aware that used water filters can be recycled at many local high street shops (see list below). Please contact your local shop first to check if they have a recycling bin for water filters.
- Robert Dyas
- Cargo Home Shop
If you would like to find out more about recycling water filters then Brita have a very interesting website on recycling, click here to visit.
Please recycle yellow pages by putting in your recycling basket, box or blue bag
Yoghurt pots can be added to your mixed recycling. Please rinse to remove any residue from them before recycling.
See also Plastic
Batteries have zinc in them - see batteries for how you can recycle them.
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