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Glasgow City Council

Waste and Recycling FAQs

Please note that changes to the Kerbside Recycling Service, which was implemented in the North West of the city in March 2024 and will be completed citywide by spring 2025, this will impact what some residents can put in their blue bin.  To find out more go to Kerbside Recycling Service Change.

Blue bin questions

What can I recycle in my blue bin?

Please use the blue bins to recycle card packaging, cardboard boxes, magazines, newspapers, comics, office paper, brochures, yellow pages, junk mail, envelopes, drinks cans, food tins, empty aerosols cans and plastic bottles. Please do not place any other items into the blue bins.

What should I not put into my blue bin?

Please only place the target materials, noted in the question above, within the blue bin.  Please do not put the following into your blue bin: yoghurt pots, margarine tubs, plastic cartons, plastic bags, paint tins, foil - foil can be recycled if it is clean of food and grease, Tetra-Paks, glass bottles, general waste and food waste.

Why can't I put glass into the blue bins?

Small fragments of glass can become mixed with paper. The paper would then be rejected at the paper mill. You can place your glass bottles and jars in your purple bin or at your nearest glass Recycling Points and Recycling Centre.

Why can I only recycle plastic bottles and not all types of plastic?

Plastic bottles are mainly made from Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) - Type 1 Plastic and High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) - Type 2 plastic. They are produced and used in large volumes and there are established end markets allowing plastic bottles to be easily recycled.

Other plastic waste streams such as pots, tubs and trays are made from a wide range of plastic polymer, including PET and HDPE, however, many are blends and can be a lower grade of plastic than the plastic bottles. These are more difficult to identify and separate efficiently. It is also more difficult to secure an outlet for the material as mixed plastics are not in as high a demand as plastic bottles.

Why can't I recycle Tetra-Pak in the blue bin?

Tetra-Pak is packaging used to store liquid food and drinks (e.g. juice and milk cartons, soup). They are made from layers of cardboard, plastic and foil. At present the Materials Recovery Facility at Blochairn cannot separate this material from the other materials collected within the blue bin. Tetra-Pak recycling bins are located at the council's four household waste recycling centres and are uplifted separately by our re-processing partner.

Will more material be collected in the blue bin in the future?

Yes.  Policy changes within the resource and recycling sector will significantly influence the Council's collection services and how materials are collected and processed in the future.  This will include, but not be limited to, the Deposit Return Scheme for single-use drinks containers, Charter for Household Recycling, and Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging Waste. 

The Council has committed to meeting the requirements of the Charter for Household Recycling and its associated Code of Practice which will require the collection of additional material streams within the Council's blue bin service, including non-bottle plastic and cartons.  An appraisal of options is currently under way (October 2021) to align the Council's recycling services to the aforementioned.  

What happens to my blue bin material once it has been collected?

The material collected in the blue recycling bin is taken to the Council's Materials Recovery Facility at Blochairn for sorting. Via a process of mechanical and manual separation, the different material streams are transported to our re-processing partners for recycling.

Where can I recycle other household materials I have?

Many household items not collected within the domestic bins can be recycled at your local Recycling Centres.

Supermarkets now have facilities to collect soft plastics, commonly called flexible packaging e.g. used plastic carrier bags, bread bags, film lids on fruit, crisp and snack packets.  Sainsbury's, Tesco and the Co-op offer these facilities.

Drop off collection points for specific material streams are also available via the website Terracycle.

Why does recycling from the blue bin often end up in a general refuse truck?

There are no specific collection vehicles allocated to collect specific material streams.  A vehicle used to collect general waste one week may be used to collect the contents of the blue bin the following week.  Vehicles are cleared of all contents before being used to collect different material streams.

Why can't I recycle the plastic trays I get with my takeaway?

Takeaway containers come in different material types.  The hard plastic takeaway trays are predominantly made from Polypropylene (PP - plastic type no.5).  Although recyclable the Council does not currently target this material type for collection and the current technology within the Council's Material Recovery Facility would make it difficult to separate from other material streams. A review of MRF operations is currently being undertaken.  Once cleaned, these containers can be re-used to store other household items. 

Brown bin questions

What can I put in my brown bin?

All compostable garden waste such as - grass cuttings, leaves, hedge trimmings, plants and garden weeds.  Plastic bin liners or carriers bags should not be placed in the brown bin because they are not compostable and can negatively impact the quality of compost produced at the re-processing facility. All garden waste has to be placed loose in your brown bin. Food waste can also be placed within the brown bin using compostable food waste liners.

What should I not place in my garden bin?

Plastic bin liners or carriers bags should not be placed in the brown bin because they are not compostable. All garden waste should be placed loose in your brown bin.

Soil, rubble and stone should not be placed in your brown bin as it will make the bin too heavy for the hoist on the collection vehicles and for crews to move safely.  These materials can be recycled at your local household waste recycling centre.

Can I deposit organic garden waste at the recycling centre?

Yes, if you bring any organic garden waste in a plastic bag or sack, please deposit the contents only - not the plastic bag - into the garden waste skip/bay, otherwise the skip/bay will become contaminated.

Where does my brown bin material go once it has been collected?

The material is produced into a range of composts by the Council's contracted partners.  The film highlights the process this material stream undergoes.

Purple bin questions

What can I put in my purple bin?

The following items can be placed within the purple bin:

  • Wine Bottles
  • Beer bottles
  • Jam jars
  • Coffee jars
  • Sauce bottles

Bottle lids/caps can be kept on the bottles.  These are removed at the re-processing plant and recycled separate from the glass 

What should I not put in my purple bin?

Please do not place the following items into your purple bin:

  • Light bulbs
  • Drinking glasses
  • Plates
  • Cups
  • Pyrex glass

The glass noted above is a different composition of the glass within bottles and jars and can negatively impact the quality of the glass when it is sent to be recycled, primarily into new bottles and jars 

General questions

What is my bin collection day?

Please refer to the collection calendar on the Council website.

What if my bin has been damaged or gone missing?

Please contact the Customer Care Centre to report it.  Reports can also be logged online.

My recycling bin has not been collected?

If you have checked your recycling bin is not contaminated and it has not been uplifted by 6pm on your collection day, please report this to the Customer Care Centre or via our online form.

What should I do if I have excess waste from time to time?

It is council policy that we cannot take extra bags beside a bin. If you cannot keep it until the next time your bin is due to be emptied, excess waste can be taken to any one of four recycling centres across the city.

What will happen if I put items in the wrong bin?

To ensure that the contents of your blue bin can be recycled, they have to be clean and dry.

Contaminated bins can spoil the other contents within the recycling vehicle so it is important the correct items go in the right bin. If your bin has the wrong items in it, a member of the collection team will leave a sticker/tag on the bin asking you to remove the offending items.

Why do we still send waste to landfill?

Some general waste is still sent to landfill, however, the majority is treated via the Glasgow Recycling and Renewable Energy Centre (GRREC).  Other larger items of waste, called bulk waste, is sent for treatment to a different contractor and any general waste that is not suitable for either of these treatment facilities is sent to landfill.  The Scottish Government has stipulated that no biodegradable material will be permitted disposal within landfill by January 2025.   

What's the point in recycling when it all ends up being dumped abroad anyway?

The majority of materials collected for recycling are processed in Scotland and the UK, with only a small tonnage being sent for treatment via energy from waste facilities within Europe.  The destination of materials can change, but predominantly:

  • Paper and card are recycled within paper mills in Manchester and Birmingham
  • Plastic bottles are processed in various plants in Scotland and England
  • Aluminium and steel cans are processed in the UK
  • Glass is processed and re-manufactured back into glass bottles in Scotland
  • After processing via the Council's Material Recovery Facility, poor quality recyclable material, which also contains general waste is sent for further treatment to recover recyclable material.  The leftover material, after this secondary processing, is produced into a refuse derived fuel, which is used within energy from waste facilities in Scotland and Europe.

I live in a traditional tenement with 8 flats. How many blue bins should there be and can we get more?

A traditional close for eight flats should have four blue (dry mixed recycling), six green (general waste), and one grey (food waste).  All are 240 litre wheeled bins.  If space and access permits, additional blue bins can be provided.

Due to the large difference in access arrangements, space available for bin infrastructure, stairs etc, that are found across these property types, some traditional tenements may have different bin sizes or bins may be located to the front of properties, rather than within the tenement backcourts. 

Due to persistent problems with contamination (placing the wrong material in the bin) some of the grey 240 litre food waste bins were removed from some backcourts and replaced with larger 500 litre bins near to the front of properties.

Why aren't there more street litter bins that take recycling?

The Council has used various iterations of 'Recycle on the Go' litter bins within the City Centre and some of the major parks across Glasgow.   Even with smaller openings on the bins to allow bottles/cans/paper/magazines, contamination of bins is a recurring problem.  The Council will continue to explore options to expand the network of these bins.  The GRREC is able to extract metal cans from the general litter stream and with the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme for single-use drinks containers (due July 2022 - although may be delayed) the provision of hundreds of additional takeback facilities (via retail outlets) for drinks cans, plastic and glass bottles will make it easier to recycle these material streams.

What if I have a large household? Can I have an extra general waste bin?

Households that have a large number of occupants, or have an occupant(s) who generate large volumes of medical waste, can apply for an assessment to receive a larger bin, subject to them using the existing recycling facilities to the fullest extent. Please complete the to arrange an assessment.

My bin was not emptied on its designated day, what do I do?

If you presented your bin on the correct day and date before 7am and it has not been emptied, by 6pm of that day, please utilise the online form, MyGlasgow app or contact the Customer Care Centre (0141 287 9700). Arrangements will be made for your bin to be emptied as soon as possible. Please also check to make sure your bin has not had a sticker placed on it highlighting that it is contaminated with items that should not have been placed in the bin.

I forgot to put my bin out on time? Do I need to wait until the next scheduled uplift?

Yes, unfortunately it is not possible to make separate arrangements in this case. If possible, take some of your waste to one of the Council's household waste recycling centres, or wait until your next collection day or perhaps, with permission, try to use a neighbour or relative's bin.

How many bins can I have?

The council will provide, as standard, the following recycling bins for all properties who receive a kerbside collection (houses):

  • One blue 240 litre recycling bin for comingled collection of paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and food and drink cans
  • One brown 240 litre recycling bin for the collection of organic garden waste and food waste
  • One purple 140 litre recycling bin for the collection of glass bottles and jars

If you do not have any of these recycling bins and would like one, please utilise the online form.

Should (for general waste) be required, a charge will apply.

Flats, tenements and multi-storey properties will have communal bins for general waste, blue bins (for recycling paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and food and drink cans) and grey bins for the collection of food waste.  The type and size of bin provided to these property types may differ due to access requirements and available space.  Bins will be located within backcourts, bin storage areas or located at the front of properties dependent on local circumstances.

These property types are not provided a glass or garden waste service.  A network of public recycling points for glass bottles and jars are located across the city, predominantly in areas of high density housing.  A map of these sites is available on the Council website.

There is a sticker on my recycling bin which says that it is contaminated? What should I do?

You need to remove the contaminated material from the bin and put it in the correct bin. Once you have removed the contaminated material, your bin will be emptied on the next scheduled day for that bin.

My bin has been broken or stolen. Do I need to buy a bin? How long until it is delivered? 

If the loss or damage is not the result of the cleansing and waste service operations, a will have to be purchased. Replacement bins can be ordered online.

Bins will be delivered as soon as possible after the request has been placed. Whilst waiting for a bin you should try to take any waste to the council's recycling centres or perhaps, with permission, try to use a neighbour or relative's bin.

Are there any other options for recycling?

There is an emerging market for recycling that target materials that are not normally collected by local authorities.  Some of the major supermarkets, including the Co-op, Tesco and Sainsbury's provide collection points for soft plastics.  Common items that fall within this category include;  

  • dry food flexible packaging e.g. bread bags, crisp/sweet packets,
  • Other food flexible packets e.g. salad bags, peelable film lids
  • Non-food flexible packaging e.g. carrier bags, clothing bags, toilet/kitchen roll bags

Further information on these collection points are available on the respective supermarket websites.

The Glasgow Cup Movement, which is coordinated by Keep Scotland Beautiful and supported by Glasgow City Council, collects single use coffee cups for recycling at various outlets for coffee in the city. Further information on collection points can be found here

Terracycle provides a recycling service for a wide range of product packaging with many locations for the drop-off of materials based in Glasgow. You can access their website here.

Food Waste questions (Brown bins at houses/Grey bins for flats)

Can I put my food waste directly into the brown bin rather than using liners?

Yes. Although it is advisable to use the liners to minimise spillages.

I don't have a brown bin due to lack of garden space or have decked/paved over my garden area. How do I participate?

If you have space to position a brown bin, but do not have a garden, a brown bin will be provided, if requested, to enable participation in the food waste collection service.

I have a large family/garden and my brown bin is full every 2 weeks with garden waste.  Can I get another brown bin? 

Residents can apply for an assessment to be undertaken to determine whether an additional brown bin will be provided.  Please arrange an assessment via the online form  Brown bins are provided free of charge.

My brown bin is stickered as contaminated / too heavy.  How do I sort it?

Please refer to the website highlighting materials that are accepted within the brown binHouseholders will have to remove any material that is not accepted within the brown bin service.

If my brown bin is full can I put food waste in the green bin?

Yes.  But any food waste placed within the green bin will be sent to landfill or for residual waste treatment and will not be composted.

Can I use plastic bags to line my caddy?

No. Plastic bags can cause issues for our re-processing partners and only compostable liners should be used to line your kitchen caddy.

I require food waste liners. Where can I get them?

If you require additional liners for your caddy, these can be purchased from all major supermarkets and various on-line retailers.

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