Wheelie bins are just a fact of life these days, but with more and more councils offering more than just the standard black bin, it can seem like throwing something away is a brain teaser. The consequence of dealing wrongly with your rubbish can be that you don't get any pick up at all! But we're going to de-mystify your bins for you, so you know what goes where and how to have good bin etiquette!
Disclaimer:Not all councils offer the same variety of wheelie bins, and bin colour can vary by council as well. This is a general guide, and we've covered as much as we can, but if you have a problem or question, it's a good idea to contact your local council!
Your General Bin
Your general bin is just that, general. It's meant for general household waste and is usually black (though in some areas it might be dark green). You can throw pretty much anything into your general bin that doesn't belong elsewhere, so if none of the other bins on this list seem right, then the general bin is your default. Beware though, that in some areas you can get fined if you put recyclable materials into a general bin!
Your Paper Bin
Some areas offer a specific paper wheelie bin or box. Usually this is blue, but it should be clearly marked paper only on the outside. So what do you put in here? Paper, of course, but you can also put cardboard as long as it's flattened out, catalogues, your junk mail, newspapers and magazines. You shouldn't use this bin for food containers, nor for tissues, kitchen towel or tissue paper, nor for greetings cards that have glitter or other decorations on them.
Your Packaging Bin
In some places you might also get a packaging recycling bin, though in many areas this will be combined with your paper bin (usually it's one bin, with an insert for paper products). This bin is also generally blue, though occasionally yellow. This bin is for all kinds of packaging, foil containers, wax containers from orange juice, for example, plastic bags, wrappings (clingfilm, tinfoil, etc), and plastic bottles or containers. If you do not have a separate can or bottle bin, then you can also put tin cans and glass bottles in here (though it's best to check with your council to be sure). But no textiles, no polystyrene, and some councils can be picky about things like greasy margarine tubs.
Your Environmental Waste Bin
You might also have an environmental waste bin, which is usually a light green colour. This is quite a specific bin and is used for things like pet waste (such as cat litter), disposable nappies or sanitary products, the ash from open fires (wait until it cools first though!), food waste (which usually needs to be wrapped up), and sometimes also for polystyrene wrappings too. It's NOT for any waste that can be composted, such as garden waste…
Your Garden Waste Bin
Your garden waste bin is usually brown and it's specifically for waste from your garden. This includes things like grass cuttings, wood cuttings, cut flowers, twigs and branches. It's not for anything non-garden related (so no food, paper or plastics), and it's also not for soil, rubble or stones.
Your Recycling Bins
Finally, you may also have a specific recycling bin (or bins) for certain items. These will always be clearly marked. Most commonly you might have a glass bin, for example, and in some cases even different bins for clear glass and coloured glass. These bins are only for exactly what is specified on the container.
Good Bin Etiquette
In addition to making sure that you use the right bin for the right rubbish, it's also important to have good bin etiquette. This will keep your bin men (and probably your neighbours) happy, and will ensure that your bins are always picked up and emptied. What do you need to know?
- Make sure that the bin lid will close, if it won't the bin is overfull and may not be picked up
- Make sure the bin is not too heavy, if necessary split the rubbish into two loads if you have too much
- If you're planning a party or special event that's going to make lots of rubbish, call your council and see if a special pick up can be arranged
- Similarly, if you're planning on doing a lot of work in the garden, then you might want to ask about an extra garden waste pick up as well
- If your bins seem too small, if the lids constantly don't close or the bins become too heavy, then enquire with your council about the possibility of having more than one bin on your property, or of getting a larger bin size (you may need to pay for either of these options!)
- Ensure that your bin is outside by 7 a.m. on collection day, that it's clearly visible, and that it's out of the way of pedestrians and cars
If you encounter any problems with your wheelie bins or recycling bins your council are the people to call. Damaged bins will usually be fixed or replaced, though sometimes there's a small charge for this more often than not it's free. If you live in a particularly crowded area and want to keep your own bins, it's a good idea to paint your house number on them, though again you'll need to check to make sure your council allows this.
For any strange or unusual rubbish you'll probably need to either take it yourself to the tip or ask your council about special pick ups, this includes things like furniture or electronics, and especially large or heavy items.
And there you have it, everything you need to know about your wheelie bins and recycling bins! Keep on top of this, and you'll never have to worry about your rubbish not being collected!
Photo credit: Smabs Sputzer