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Materials A-Z

Want to know how to recycle or dispose of something?

Look at our A to Z list of the materials that you might want to dispose of, and it will tell you how you can recycle or dispose of them best.

  • A

    Aerosol cans

    Empty uncrushed aluminium and steel aerosol cans can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at your home. They can also be taken for recycling at your nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre. Important: Please do not squash or pierce aerosols.

    Aluminium cans

    Aluminium cans can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home. They can also be taken to your nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    Aluminium foil

    Items such as clean food trays, foil wrapping on biscuits and milk tops can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home. Important: This does not include foil wrapped crisp packets or pet food pouches.

    You can also recycle clean foil at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    Asbestos

    Asbestos is a toxic material that was once used to make insulation and fireproofing material in construction, it is classed as hazardous waste. Important: We do not accept unwrapped asbestos; you should take household asbestos to our Hornsey Street Household Waste Recycling Centre wrapped up in heavy duty plastic wrapping. You can use household rubble sacks that can be bought from supermarkets.

    Asbestos can be dropped off by appointment only. Call 020 8884 5645 to make an appointment. Site staff will need to know how much asbestos you need to dispose of and check that there is enough space in the asbestos container.

    For hints and tips on safe removal of asbestos visit hse.gov.uk/asbestos

    Ash

    Small amounts of cold ash or cinders from an open fire can help to keep slugs and snails off your vegetable patch. You can also put small amounts into your general waste (non recyclable) bin at home, once cooled. Important: Never put hot ashes into a bin.

  • B

    Baby items

    You can donate clothes, toys or kit (such as cots, and prams) to a local charity shop or try to sell them second hand.

    You can also donate baby clothes and shoes to the textile banks at your Household Waste Recycling Centre, where they will be re-used or recycled. The media banks also collect complete children's games and books.

    Batteries - car

    Car batteries may be taken to your Household Waste Recycling Centre for recycling. Do handle with care as car batteries contain acid. You can also ask the garage to take back the old one when you purchase a new battery.

    Batteries - household

    Regular batteries can be recycled at our Household Waste Recycling Centres and local supermarkets. Instead of replacing batteries, why not buy rechargeable batteries? There’s no need for disposal and you can use them again and again, which will save you money.

    Bikes

    You can donate unwanted bikes for re-use or recycling at a local bike scheme. The bike will be refurbished and sold back into the community. You can buy a bike from one of these schemes too, which is usually really good value.

    Blankets

    Charity shops collect old blankets and duvets.

    Books

    You can take second hand books to a local charity shop or donate them for re-use in the media banks at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    Bric a brac

    Charity shops are always on the look out for crockery, pictures, ornaments etc. And you might be able to make some money by selling items at a car boot sale. Otherwise you can take these items to your Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    Building materials

    Building materials can be taken to your Household Waste Recycling Centre. You can recycle hardcore material such as rubble, concrete and soil.

    Bulky household items

    There is a scheme for donating furniture and electrical goods for re-use in each area in north London. See our re-use pages for more details on the scheme. Furniture and electricals deposited under this scheme will be taken to a local community organisation where they will be refurbished and sold back to low income families at a low cost.

    There are schemes where bulky items can be picked up from your home. Some re-use groups and councils offer this service, they will pick up quality items and give them a new home. Important: - There can be a charge for the ‘pick up from home’ service.

    Buttons

    Keep them yourself to update old clothes or donate them to your local charity shop.
  • C

    Cans

    Food, drinks and pet food cans can all be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home, they can also be taken to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    Cardboard and card packaging

    You can recycle this in your paper and card recycling bin at home. Card can also be taken to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre. You can re-use large cardboard sheets in the garden as a weed suppressing mulch by covering them with compost. Shredded cardboard also makes great animal bedding.

    Carpet

    Currently, we cannot recycle carpet and vinyl flooring at Household Waste Recycling Centres in north London, however you can dispose of them there.

    Carrier bags

    Plastic carrier bags can be recycled within your household recycling collections in some boroughs. Check your borough's information to be sure. Please do not put any recyclables (including food) for collection at home in plastic bags. Single use carrier bags can also be recycled at most major supermarkets. You can re-use them by keeping a stash of bags in your car boot or one in your handbag.

    Important: You can say ‘no’ to unwanted plastic carrier bags and use a bag for life instead. Bags for life are readily available at most supermarkets and large chain stores, they come in a variety of styles and designs and can be used over and over again.

    Cat litter

    Cat litter cannot be recycled or composted so put it in your general waste (non recyclable) bin at home.

    Catalogues

    Catalogues can be recycled in your paper and card recycling bin at your home. They can also be recycled at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    CDs

    You can donate CDs for re-use at your local charity shop, and some charities run recycling programmes for CDs too. Alternatively, CDs in good condition can be put in the media banks at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    Chemicals

    The City of London operates a household hazardous waste collection and disposal service for residents on behalf of most of the London Boroughs. They collect wrapped asbestos and boxed chemicals including paint only.

    Important: You should ensure that container lids are secured, and if possible, that containers have a label.

    Christmas trees (real)

    Recycle your real Christmas tree at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre. Your Christmas tree can also be chopped up and recycled via your kerbside garden and food recycling collection service, if you have one available (check with your local council about what services they provide).

    Clinical waste

    Clinical waste is mainly produced by hospitals, doctors' surgeries and veterinary practices, but also arises from residential homes, nursing homes and private households.

    If you are a resident treating yourself at home and have either syringes, sharps and needles (of any kind) or swabs, soiled dressings or similar soiled wastes you should seek advice from your GP, doctor's surgery or local council about free collections.

    Important: There are companies that offer services for commercial premises. Please see the waste disposal services section of the Yellow Pages or yell.com for more information.

    Clothes

    Household Waste Recycling Centres provide textile banks where people can deposit their unwanted clothes, sheets and pairs of shoes. Around 80% of these items are re-used and 20% recycled.

    Clothing in good condition can also be taken to charity shops or taken or local jumble sales. For more information on clothing visit our clothing page.

    Coat hangers

    You should leave unwanted coat hangers at the shop when you buy items as they cannot be recycled in north London. Otherwise you can take them to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    Coins

    Foreign coins and out of date British currency can be taken to your local charity shop. Many banks will collect them too - ask your local branch for details.

    Commercial waste

    Any property that is commercially rated must pay for the removal of their waste by a licensed waste carrier. You can either ask your local council or a private waste disposal/recycling company to collect it or take it to a private waste disposal/recycling facility yourself. Check out our business pages for more information

    Compost bins

    Getting a home compost bin is an easy, low-cost way to dispose of organic kitchen and garden waste. Compost bins can also be bought from garden centres and DIY stores.

    Composting

    Composting is an excellent way to recycle garden and kitchen waste. You can make your own compost to make your garden flourish.

    Computers

    Why not ask your local school if they would like a computer donated to them. Alternatively you could try donateapc.org.uk or computersforcharities.co.uk. Be sure to clear your hard drive, etc. before donating your computer. Otherwise you can take your computer to your nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    Cookers

    Your local re-use group may be able to refurbish your old and worn out cooker to give it a new lease of life for a new home. See our re-use pages for more details. They can also be recycled at Household Waste Recycling Centres.

    Crisp packets

    These can not be recycled as they are made from a combination of metal and plastic. You should put them in your general waste bin.

  • D

    DIY waste

    General DIY waste from your household can be taken to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    Domestic waste

    Your local council is responsible for the collection of your domestic waste.

  • E

    Egg cartons

    If you buy cardboard egg cartons rather than plastic or polystyrene ones, you can recycle them in your paper and card recycling bin at home. Important:  Cardboard egg cartons can be reused in a variety of ways; you can break them up and add them to your compost to provide aeration; playgroups and schools can use them for craft projects; and they can also be used as seed pots and planted straight into the ground as they are biodegradable.

    Egg shells

    You can recycle egg shells in your garden and food recycling bin at home. Cleaned and crushed egg shells can be added to your compost as they contain lime, which helps to reduce acidity in the soil.

    Electrical items

     

    Any electrical items, large or small, can be recycled at your reuse and recycling centres (RRCs). If your large electrical items, such as washing machines, are still working and in a useable condition, your local re-use organisation may be able to refurbish them and give them a new lease of life and a new home. Some electrical items, like iPads and iPods can also be sold online.

    There is much more information about recycling and reusing electrical items on our Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment web pages.

    Important:
    Electrical items should not be disposed of in your general waste.

    Energy saving lightbulbs

    Although standard lightbulbs cannot be recycled, energy saving lightbulbs will last longer and can be taken to your local reuse and recycling centres and recycled in the fluorescent tubes container.

    Engine oil

    Used engine oil discarded down storm drains can cause considerable environmental damage if it leaches into watercourses and/or groundwater. Oil can be disposed of at your reuse and recycling centres.

    Envelopes

    Envelopes can be recycled in your paper and card recycling bin at home. Envelopes in good condition can be re-used by putting a re-use label over the old address and writing the new postal address on. If you remove the plastic windows from envelopes they can be home composted.

  • F

    Fax junk mail

    To reduce the amount of junk faxes you receive visit mpsonline.org.uk/fpsvisit

    Florescent tubes/bulbs

    These can be recycled at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    Foam/polystyrene chips

    You can dispose of polystyrene and foam chips in your general waste bin or take them to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre for disposal. But why not re-use them where possible, for example, for packaging, beanbags or drainage in plant pots.

    Foil

    Items such as clean food trays, foil wrapping on biscuits and milk tops can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin at home. Important: This does not include foil wrapped crisp packets or pet food pouches.

    You can also recycle clean foil at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    Food

    You can recycle your food waste at home in your garden and food waste recycling bin, supplied by your local council. You will probably have a kitchen caddy to collect your waste food in, so you just need to make sure the caddy has a compostable liner inside.

    Important: Please do not use plastic bags to line your caddy. Compostable liners are available from your local council or shopping outlets such as garden centres and supermarkets.

    Food waste that can be recycled at home includes:

    • Cooked and uncooked food
    • Raw and cooked fruit and vegetables
    • Meat and fish, including bones and skin
    • Cheese and other dairy products
    • Eggs and egg shells
    • Bread, cake and pastries
    • Teabags and coffee grinds

    Find out how to waste less food by visiting our food waste pages.

    Foreign currency

    Foreign coins and out of date British currency can be taken to your local charity shop. Many banks will collect them too - ask your local branch for details.

    Fridges and freezers

    Fridges and freezers can be be recycled at your Household Waste Recycling Centre. If your large electrical items are still working and in a useable condition, your local re-use organisation may be able to refurbish them and give them a new lease of life. Visit the re-use s to find your nearest scheme.

    Furniture

    You can donate quality furniture for re-use at a number of re-use centres across north London. Visit the re-use page to find your nearest centre.

    Your local council may operate a collection service for items such as tables, chairs, beds, fridges and freezers. Most items can also be taken to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre free of charge.

  • H

    Hazardous waste

    Hazardous waste is any form of waste which can harm human health or the environment, or is difficult to handle. Each of the items on the list below is classed as hazardous waste:

    • TV and computer monitors
    • Fridges and freezers
    • Fluorescent light tubes
    • Infectious clinical waste
    • All waste containing asbestos
    • Waste oils
    • End of life vehicles
    • Lead acid (automotive) batteries

    You must separate out any hazardous waste from your general household waste before taking it to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre. Ask advice from the centre staff and do not put any hazardous waste in with the general waste skips. Your local council may be able to collect your hazardous waste;  to find out if this service is available, please contact your council directly.

    Household refuse

    Your local council is responsible for the collection of your domestic waste.

    Household Waste Recycling Centres

    Household Waste Recycling Centres are open to all residents of north London. There are nine centres where you can recycle and dispose of your waste free of charge. At most centres you can recycle a wide range of different materials as well as donate items for re-use in the local community. Check the details for your local centre to see what it accepts.

    Important: Trade waste is not accepted at any Household Waste Recycling Centre.

  • G

    Garden Waste

    You can recycle your garden waste using your garden waste recycling bin at home, or recycle it at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre. In your home recycling bin you can recycle grass cuttings, leaves, hedge clippings, plants and small branches.
    Don't forget you can also compost at home.

    Gas cylinders

    These should be returned to the issuing company. Their address is usually shown on the label on the cylinder. They can also be taken to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre

    Glass (plate)

    Unfortunately there are currently no recycling schemes for plate glass. If you are unable to re-use your old plate glass, please take it to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre. Important: Please do not put plate glass into glass recycling banks or your home collection which are for bottles and jars only.

    Glass (Pyrex)

    Pyrex cannot be recycled in your mixed recycling bin. Pyrex can be taken to your Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    Glass bottles and jars

    You can recycle glass bottles and jars in your mixed recycling bin at home or at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre. Please remember to rinse out the bottles and jars and put the lids into your recycling container separately.

    Greeting cards

    You can recycle greetings cards in your paper and card recycling bin at home. But why not re-use the front of your best cards for gift tags? The Woodland Trust runs a special Christmas card collection scheme and you can donate old Christmas cards at TK-Maxx and Marks and Spencer stores.

  • I

    Ink cartridges and toners

    There are many charities which welcome unwanted ink cartridges. You can also find local stores who will refill ink cartridges so you can re-use them.

    iPod / iPad

    Any electrical items, large or small, can be recycled at your Household Waste Recycling Centres. If your large electrical items, such as washing machines, are still working and in a useable condition, your local re-use organisation may be able to refurbish them and give them a new lease of life and a new home. Visit the Re-Use pages to find out about your nearest scheme. Some electrical items, like iPads and iPods can also be sold online.

    There is much more information about recycling electrical items on our Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment webpages.

    Important:
    Electrical items should not be disposed of in your general waste.
  • J

    Jewellery

    Unwanted jewellery can be given to charity shops. Or if you want to make some extra cash you could try selling it online.

    Junk mail

    Paper and card can be put into your mixed recycling bin. Please visit our junk mail page for more information about avoiding junk mail.Junk Mail

  • K

    Knitting needles

    An organisation called Tools for Self Reliance send knitting needles and crates of sewing machines to developing countries.

    To find out more about how you can help this charity visit tfsr.org.uk.

  • L

    Lightbulbs

    Standard lightbulbs cannot be recycled, so you should not put them in your recycling bins at home.

    Try switching to low energy alternatives (energy saving lightbulbs), which save you money in the long term and can be recycled at all Household Waste Recycling Centres (in the fluorescent tubes container) along with any fluorescent tube lighting you need to recycle.

  • M

    Magazines

    Unwanted magazines can be recycled in your paper and card recycling bin. You can also share your magazines with friends and family or donate them to your local doctor, dentist or hairdresser.

     

    Mattress

    Used mattresses can be recycled by a local re-use organisation, instead of being sent to landfill. You can also dispose of used mattresses at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    Medicines and tablets

    Medicines and tablets are classed as hazardous waste. If you have any left-over medicines you should consult your local chemist, pharmacy or hospital on how best to dispose of them.

    Metal

    You can recycle metal at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre, or take it to any scrap metal merchant.

    Mobile phones

    Many of the main supermarkets and chain stores provide Freepost envelopes in store so you can post old mobile phones for recycling. Most mobile phone providers will also do this when you upgrade your handset or purchase a new phone. There are also many charity collections operating or you could sell your old mobile phone online.

  • N

    Nappies

     

    Disposable nappies are not recyclable and should be placed in your general waste bin. Disposable nappies are not biodegradable and may take between 300 and 500 years to break down in landfill sites.

    Real nappies are a much more environmentally friendly and cost effective alternative. Visit our real nappy pages for more information.

    Needle-sticks and syringes

    You should dispose of these as per the supplier's instructions, usually by them sealing in a container and putting the container in the general waste (non recyclable) bin at home. Important: Please do not place these items in your recycling bin - needle-sticks or syringes cannot be recycled or re-used.

    Newspapers

    All newspapers can be recycled in your paper and card recycling bin at home or recycled at any of the Household Waste Recycling Centres.

  • O

    Oil (cooking)

    Simply collect cooking oil in a empty plastic or glass bottle, once it has cooled, and take it to a Household Waste Recycling Centre. Be sure to check that your local centre accepts cooking oil first.

    After the cooking oil has been collected it is converted into high quality bio-fuel for the distribution and power generation industries. Important: old cooking oil can be home composted, though it's best to mix well with paper or cardboard first.

    Oil (engine)

    Engine oil can be recycled at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre. You can also ask your local garage if they collect it. Important: Pouring oil down drains is illegal and burning oil can lead to a £2000 fine. Waste engine oil can easily be recycled.

    Organic waste

    You can recycle your food waste at home in your garden and food waste recycling bin, supplied by your local council. You will probably have a kitchen caddy to collect your waste food in, so you just need to make sure the caddy has a compostable liner inside.

    Important: Please do not use plastic bags to line your caddy. Compostable liners are available from your local council or shopping outlets such as garden centres and supermarkets.

    Food waste that can be recycled at home includes:

    • Cooked and uncooked food
    • Raw and cooked fruit and vegetables
    • Meat and fish, including bones and skin
    • Cheese and other dairy products
    • Eggs and egg shells
    • Bread, cake and pastries
    • Teabags and coffee grinds

    Find out how to waste less food by visiting our food waste pages.

  • P

    Packaging

    Many items we buy come with lots of packaging. You can reduce packaging waste in lots of ways, for example, by buying loose products or products with minimal, reusable or recyclable packaging. Check individual items to see if they can be recycled using your at-home recycling service, or at Household Waste Recycling Centres.

    Paint

    There are lots of environmentally friendly paints available to buy from most DIY stores. You can take paint to our Household Waste Recycling Centres for safe disposal.Important: Paint must not be poured down the drain.

    Paper

    Paper can be recycled in your paper and card recycling bin.

    Pet bedding

    You can compost your pet bedding in your home compost bin. Otherwise you can dispose of pet bedding at a Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    Plasterboard

    This must be separated from other waste as it contains gypsum. Check to see if your local Household Waste Recycling Centres will dispose of plasterboard.

    Plastic bags

    You can recycle single use plastic carrier bags at most major supermarkets and can be put in your plastic recycling bin in some boroughs. Check what you can put in your bin

    You can "shop smart" and say no to unwanted plastic carrier bags; use a bag for life instead. These are readily available at most supermarkets and large chain stores, they come in a variety of styles and designs and can be used over and over again.

    Plastics

    Plastics can cause confusion when recycling. In most of the north London boroughs you can recycle mixed plastics in your mixed recycling bin. You can take all plastics (apart from carrier bags) to be recycled at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    Hard plastics

    You can currently recycle hard (rigid plastics) at South Access, Regis Road, Western Road, Kings Road and Hornsey Street Household Waste Recycling Centres. This includes:

    • Wheeled bins
    • Recycling bins
    • Milk and beer crates
    • Packing crates
    • Car bumpers
    • Children’s toys and games
    • Pipes
    • Buckets
    • Hard plastic containers

    Important: Plastics with small amounts of surface contamination are acceptable, heavy soiling with such substances as mud, cement, paint or adhesive should be excluded. Plastic drums and buckets are acceptable as long as residual contamination has been rinsed out.

    Polystyrene/foam chips

    You can dispose of polystyrene and foam chips in your general waste bin or take them to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre for disposal. But why not re-use them where possible, for example, for packaging, beanbags or drainage in plant pots.

    Pottery

    Some charity shops will take certain pottery items. Or you can re-use broken pottery in the bottom of plant pots for drainage. Pottery can also be recycled at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

  • S

    Scrap metal

    You can recycle metal at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre, or take it to any scrap metal merchant.

    Sewing machines and sewing accessories

    Sewing machines and accessories are accepted by an organisation called Tools for Self Reliance who send them to developing countries. To find out more about how you can help this charity visit tfsr.org.uk.

    Shoes

    Some charity shops accept shoes or they can be recycled in pairs in the textile banks at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre or at many local supermarkets.

    Spectacles

    Some opticians and charity shops will accept old spectacles for repair and shipment to developing countries.

    Stamps

    Many charities accept used stamps as they can benefit from re-using them.

    Sun beds

    Household sun beds can be taken to your nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre. Important: The sun bed must be dismantled before being taken to a recycling centre. The fluorescent tubes must be removed from the frame and then placed in the dedicated container. The frame can be placed in the electrical recycling container.

  • T

    Telephone directories

    Telephone directories can be recycled in your paper and card recycling bin at home and at all Household Waste Recycling Centres.

    Textiles

    Clothes in good condition can be re-used. Clothes can passed onto friends and relatives, taken to charity shops or to a jumble sale, or you may be able to sell clothes online. Some Household Waste Recycling Centres provide textiles banks where you can put unwanted clothes, sheets, towels and pairs of shoes.

    Tissues

    Tissues can be put in home compost bins or disposed of in the general waste bin.

    Tools

    Tools for Self Reliance collect and refurbish hand tools (except gardening tools), for free shipment to developing countries. You can deliver the tools or they can be collected if necessary.

    Toys and games

    Unwanted toys and games can be donated to your local doctor's surgery or community centre where they can be re-used. Many games console stores will also trade older computer games for new ones and then sell them on  to new customers. Most charity shops will also accept donations of toys and games.

    Computer games and complete childrens games can also can be donated in the media banks at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

    If the toy is made made from hard (rigid) plastic you can recycle it at many of the Household Waste Recycling Centres.

    Tyres

    Over 38 million tyres are discarded in the UK each year, sometimes illegally. If you get your tyres changed at a garage they will dispose of the old ones for you.

  • V

    Vending cups

    You can wash out and re-use vending cups for parties or picnics, or put a hole in the bottom and use them for growing seedlings. You can put these in your plastics recycling container in most boroughs. Check your local borough's information.

    The save-a-cup scheme also collects these cups for recycling.

    Video cassettes

    Damaged or worn video cassettes should be disposed of in your general waste bin. Unused cassettes can be donated to charity shops, see your local directory for details. Video cassettes in good condition can be donated via the media banks at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre

  • W

    Wrapping paper

     

    You can recycle wrapping paper in your paper and card recycling bin at home.

    You can also recycle wrapping paper at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

  • Y

    Yellow Pages

    Telephone directories can be recycled in your paper and card recycling bin at home and at all Household Waste Recycling Centres.

    Yoghurt pots

    In all boroughs yoghurt pots can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin. If you do not want to throw them away, you could also clean them and re-use them as mini storage containers or planters for kitchen herbs.