Recycling around the home
Build confidence recycling items from every room of your home using this guide.
Table of Contents
Common recyclable items:
- Shampoo/conditioner bottles – rinse, dry, and replace the lid
- Shower gel/bubble bath/moisturiser bottles – rinse, dry, and replace the lid
- Cardboard boxes/toilet roll tubes – flatten
- Bathroom cleaner/bleach bottles – include spray dispenser
- Deodorant/shaving foam aerosols – empty, remove plastic caps, and recycle separately
- Hand wash bottles – remove the pump dispenser
Harder to recycle items with solutions:
- Toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, disposable razors and contact lenses – recycle through Terracycle. If you haven’t got a local collection point, consider posting instead
- Wooden toothbrushes are compostable. Remove bristles and break up the handle for quicker decomposition
- Metal razor blades – store in a tin and recycle with metal recycling.
- PPE face masks – some shops offer PPE recycling collections. Try Wilko or Morrisons in the UK
- Cosmetics and make-up – recycle through Terracycle or find shops with recycling collections. (In the UK, try Body Shop, Boots, Neal’s Yard, and L’Occitane)
- Medicine blister packs – may be possible to recycle through Terracycle or at Superdrug in the UK
Don’t recycle these items:
- Mirrors – if in good condition, gift or sell. If broken, Pinterest has craft ideas
- Tissues – flush down the toilet or put in the bin. Not recyclable with paper
- Wipes – cannot be flushed unless certified with ‘Fine to Flush’ logo. Not recyclable
- Cotton wool/buds – some paper or wood based cotton buds can be composted
- Disposable nappies and menstrual products – put in the waste bin. Some councils have a recycling option for nappies. Plastic outer packaging can be recycled with other soft plastics (e.g. at a supermarket)
- Covid-19 testing kits – test kits go in the rubbish bin, or turn lateral flow tests into plant labels
Common recyclable items:
- Food waste – check if your local council collects food waste or compost veg scraps at home
- Furniture polish/air freshener aerosols – empty, remove plastic caps (recycle with plastics)
- Bleach bottles – empty and replace the lid
- Surface cleaner bottles – rinse and replace the trigger spray
- Dishwasher tablet/kitchen wrap boxes – flatten
- Kitchen foil/pie cases/takeaway trays – rinse and scrunch into tennis ball sized ball
- Kitchen roll tubes – recycle with cardboard
- Pizza boxes – empty and remove greasy parts
- Plastic pots, tubs and trays – check if your council collects these. Remove plastic film.
- Cooking oil – save and take to a Household Recycling Centre.
- Soft or flexible plastics – widely recycled at supermarkets and larger grocery stores such as Co-op
Have you tried reusing bottles, tubs, jars, and bags at a refill station yet? That way you’d have less to throw away and recycle!
Common unrecyclable items:
- Sponges and scouring pads – natural sponges/pads are a better option.
- Receipts – shiny receipts can’t go in paper recycling as they are coated in chemicals (BPA or BPS). Refuse or opt for email receipts
- Compostable/biodegradable packaging – these cannot be recycled (unless your council states otherwise).
- Black plastics – contact your local authority to see if they accept black plastic or not. Check out Recycle Now for more info.
Living Room Recycling
Common recyclable items:
- Envelopes – with or without windows. This is a useful guide
- Newspapers, magazines and leaflets
- Tissue boxes – flatten and remove tape
- Aerosol air fresheners – empty, remove plastic caps (recycle with plastics)
Here are some harder to recycle items with possible solutions…
- Spectacles – ask your optician to replace the lens only so you can keep the frames. Some councils recycle from the kerbside. Search online for a charity collecting specs
- Batteries – many councils collect at kerbside. Supermarkets/shops selling batteries and Household Recycling Centres will have collection points, schools and libraries may collect. Find your nearest battery drop off point by clicking here
- Light bulbs – some local councils collect at kerbside. Energy-efficient bulbs can be taken to Household Recycling Centres and some stores. Incandescent bulbs can’t be recycle
- Electronics – some councils collect small electronics from the kerbside. If not, take to Household Recycling Centre or see if the retailer offers recycling/take-back options
- CDs/DVDs/cassettes/video games – unrecyclable. See alternative suggestions in stage three
- Furniture – sell, gift or donate where possible. Recycle at a Household Recycling Centre. Some local councils offer bulky item collections for a charge
Tip: The Repair Cafe has useful tips for fixing items, inc. furniture, toys and electronics.
Common items which are recyclable:
- Deodorant and hairspray aerosols – empty, remove plastic caps (recycle with plastics)
- Tissue boxes – remove plastic, flatten and recycle with cardboard
- Perfume and aftershave bottles – empty and replace lid
- Plastic tubes – if you can recycle plastic pots, tubs and trays at home, then pop tubes from hand creams and lotions in as well. Exceptions are tubes smaller than 40×40 mm, toothpaste tubes and tubes that contain DIY products like mastic.
- Magazines – donate to libraries, hospitals or doctor/dentist surgeries. Magazines and newspapers are recycled with paper
Check your local council for more info on what you can recycle at home. Also, see our hacks for more help.
Here are some harder to recycle items with possible solutions:
- Books – sell, gift or donate. Check if they are accepted at the Household Recycling Centre
- Toys – sell, gift or donate. Check if your local Household Recycling Centre accepts them. Remove all batteries and recycle them separately
- Mattresses – if in good condition, donate to charity. Alternatively, when buying new, ask if the company will recycle your old one
- Pillows and duvets – Homeless or animal shelters may accept donations. Feathers can be composted.
Beauty and grooming products – glass pots can be recycled. Several high street retailers collect empties. Look on Recycle Now for a list of what is accepted in stores. Terracycle also offers beauty/grooming product collections
In the Garden
Here are some harder-to-recyclable items from the garden, garage, or shed:
- Tools – sell, gift, or donate to a reuse organisation or community group. Broken? Check if your Household Recycling Centre will accept them. Electrical tools – some local councils accept small electricals at the kerbside
- Hazardous waste –chemicals, paints, etc. shouldn’t be poured down the sink. Take it to your local Household Recycling Centre. They may have a paint reuse/recycling scheme in place.
- Car/motorbike parts – batteries may be recycled at garages, scrap metal yards, collected at the kerbside, or taken to the Household Recycling Centre. Tyres – try the local tyre shop or Household Recycling Centre.
- Bikes – sell, gift, or donate to a local bike repair/reuse shop. Household Recycling Centres will recycle the metal.
- Plastic plant pots – if your council collects plastic pots, tubs and trays they may accept plastic plant pots but check as some don’t. Some garden centres have take-back schemes
- Wood and timber – take to a Household Recycling Centre or search for a local wood recycling organisation
Ideas of what to do with your garden greens:
- Let the grass grow – take part in ‘No Mow May’, or simply mow less often. Worried about what the neighbours will say? Pop a ‘blue heart‘ in your garden!
- Grasscycling – leave your grass clippings to decompose in the grass, naturally. Check out Gardening Know How for a how-to guide
- Leaf mold – make leaf mold by gathering fallen leaves. It makes an excellent soil conditioner. The BBC shows you how
- Branches and logs – make log piles for visiting wildlife
- Compost – a great solution to turn garden waste into something useful again, learn more about composting here
- Garden waste collections – need a regular collection or a one-off, check what your council offers and what you can include. Generally, it’s garden waste only and homegrown fruit/veg. No food or packaging of any kind should go in. Check if animal (herbivore only) waste can be included. Household Recycling Centres also accept garden waste
Tip: Let grass dry before putting it into a garden waste bin. Wet grass makes the bin heavy and smelly. If possible, spread it out over a small area for a few days to dry first!
Something missing? You may find that item in our ‘How to recycle like a pro’ blog post.