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Reduce your waste

Ideas to help you cut down the amount of waste you produce, and ways you can increase how much you recycle.

In 2023, Westminster’s recycling rate increased by around 4 percentage points to nearly 25%. We're especially proud of this increase as across the country the average recycling rate decreased by nearly 1 percentage point in the same year. Westminster is now the most improved borough in London for recycling as well as one of the top ten most improved boroughs across the entire country. 

This is largely thanks to our innovative food waste recycling service. Visit the eating sustainably page of the Fairer Environment hub to find out more about reducing and recycling food waste.  

However, with a London average household recycling rate of 33% we still have a long way to go. If we are to reach our target of becoming a net zero city by 2040, we need to dramatically reduce the amount of waste we produce, and improve recycling rates as much as possible. 

There are lots of ways for us all to reduce the amount of waste we produce, especially single-use plastics.  

Reduce plastic in the bathroom

Bathroom and hygiene items traditionally contain a lot of plastic, but there are alternatives: 

  • We offer residents a voucher to try out reusable nappies rather than disposable nappies. Find out more information here.
  • Over 4.3 billion disposable period products are used every year in the UK alone. Around 4.5 million of these are flushed into our water systems causing blockages and adding to ocean plastic pollution. Try using reusable, washable period products rather than disposable ones.  
  • Use bars rather than bottles for items such as soap, shampoo, conditioner and facial cleanser. 
  • Use toothbrushes with removable heads that can be swapped out when worn, or bamboo toothbrushes to reduce single-use plastic waste.
  • Switching to a reusable safety razor is a great way to reduce your waste as you keep the body of the razor and just switch out the blades.
  • Swap your plastic sponge to a loofah plant sponge. 
  • Look for re-fillable versions of many common items such as deodorant and bathroom cleaning products.
  • To avoid the plastic packaging, switch to a bamboo or recycled toilet paper subscription service. Find more information from provider 'Naked Sprout' here.

Reduce plastic on the go

Recycle at home

The main items that can go in your mixed recycling are: 

  • Paper and cardboard. Please flatten cardboard boxes. 
  • Plastic bottles, tubs, cartons, and food containers, including lids and caps. Please rinse containers out quickly first. 
  • Glass bottles and jars. 
  • Empty aerosol cans and rinsed aluminium foil. 
  • Food and drink cans. 

The following items should always go in your household rubbish: 

  • Plastic film and clingfilm. 
  • Crisp packets and wrappers. 
  • Other soft plastic, for example the inner bag for cereals. 
  • Takeaway coffee cups. Please remember to use your own reusable coffee cup instead! 
  • Wet wipes, tissues, and paper towels. 
  • Polystyrene packing or bubble wrap. 

Please enquire at your local supermarket, as some have collection points for recycling plastic bags or soft plastics.  

Check our recycling pages for more details about the services on offer for residents in Westminster. 

Other recycling

There are lots of items that can be recycled even though they can’t go in your mixed recycling at home. You can recycle the items below at specific locations across Westminster: 

Bulky items can be either taken to the Household Waste Recycling Centre at Smugglers Way, or you can arrange a bulky waste collection

Come along to one of our Community Mobile Recycling Centres to recycle your hard-to-recycle items as well as take part in the Swap Shop and take home some preloved items. We hold these events every few months in different locations through Westminster so keep an eye on the website for upcoming events. Find out more about Community Mobile Recycling Centres

If you’re not sure how to dispose of something, please visit our A-Z of recycling, which covers a wide range of items. 

Remember that if your item is still in good working order then it’s best to try and donate it to a local charity shop. 

Published: 28 May 2024

Last updated: 7 June 2024