Coronavirus COVID-19: Latest updates

Many council services are reduced or disrupted. Check our coronavirus page for the most up-to-date information. Read the latest and sign up for updates.

Recycling contamination

What can you NOT put in the blue top bin?

The main thing we need to avoid when recycling is contamination. Food and the wrong type of plastics are our biggest contaminants of recycling. Contamination is when the wrong items – such as bags of general rubbish, hard plastics, nappies and dirty fast food packaging – are placed in a recycling bin. Contamination can happen with both the blue top bin for mixed dry recycling and the green top bin for food and garden waste. When a recycling bin is contaminated, the good quality recyclable items become spoiled and often this means that none of the contents can be recycled.

These items need to go in your black top rubbish bin: 

  • food or food-coated trays
  • hard plastics – hangers, toys and garden furniture
  • soft plastics and films – carrier bags, film lids, cling films, sweet wrappers
  • plastic / foil pouches – pet food, coffee packets
  • coffee cups
  • tissues, paper towels and wipes
  • plastic tubes – creams, toothpaste
  • blister packs - medicines, cough sweets
  • crisp packets
  • polystyrene
  • clothes and textiles
  • electrical goods
  • wood

Please do not put your mixed dry recycling in black sacks as our collection crews can't tell what's in them. 

If you can’t clean an item or are unsure whether it can be recycled, always put it in the black top rubbish bin.

What we do if a bin is contaminated

If a blue or green top wheelie bin is contaminated, our crews put a red tag on it to show that the bin mustn’t be collected as recycling. If a bin is tagged, it may take longer to be emptied and we can permanently remove bins that are tagged regularly. 

With large communal bins at blocks of flats, we lock the main lid of the blue recycling bin to prevent contamination so that large items such as black sacks of general rubbish and bulky items cannot be put in them. There is a flap where clean, recyclable items can be deposited.

For lots more information on recycling, different types of plastic, tips around waste prevention and lots more, pay the London Recycles website a visit.