Do you remember when we all used to have just the one black bin and nothing else? Life was simple then, as we just had to put all our rubbish into it and that was that. Of course now we are more aware of the need to recycle as much as we can. This has introduced us to the idea of having more than one wheelie bin to handle and use each week.

Most of us like the idea of doing our bit to recycle as much as we can. The less we send to landfills the better our surroundings will be, both now and in the future. This is why it’s essential to know what can go into each of your wheelie bins.
 

Are the rules the same for everyone across the UK?

Not necessarily. Some councils have more wheelie bins than others, thus requiring recycled items to be divided up further than they might be in another part of the country. If you’re unsure what can go into each bin you should check the rules for your particular line-up of bins to determine what needs to go in where. You can do this online if you wish; your local council’s website should provide you with the information you need.
 

Remember the wash and squash rule!

When it comes to your recycling bin you should be able to recycle tins, cans, jars and similar receptacles. However you shouldn’t put dirty items into your wheelie bin. Everything should be properly washed and dried before it goes in there.

There are several reasons for doing this. Firstly while cans, tins, jars and so on can all be recycled, dirty ones are essentially contaminated. This means they are no good to be recycled. So if you’ve been doing your bit without cleaning everything first, you may actually have been recycling far less than you thought.

Also, squashing everything means it takes up a lot less room in your bin. You can get can crushers that crush cans down to little metal discs if you like. It’s even possible to get a tin can crusher that is more robust and can squash things like baked bean cans as well as tins. If you tend to get rid of a lot of these types of items and you have a large family, your bin won’t get anywhere near as full with one of these on your side.
 

Try and avoid putting food in your regular non-recycling bin

It’s becoming more and more common for councils to provide a separate means for recycling your leftovers nowadays. In the past any food you didn’t want or that had gone off needed to be put into the normal wheelie bin for non-recyclable rubbish. You could recycle raw peelings and fruit and vegetables if you wanted, not to mention teabags and coffee grounds. However anything that had been cooked, along with fish, meat and poultry of any kind, had to be disposed of in the normal bin.

Now you may not have to do this anymore. If you have a food caddy you can use this instead. The big advantage is that it keeps your main wheelie bin free from smells, rotten food and the chance of getting flies or other nasties in there.

Some councils that don’t have separate food caddies often permit you to put food waste into your brown wheelie bin instead. This is your garden rubbish bin and you’ll normally be able to put food in that is wrapped in newspaper too. Again, remember to check the information you have been given for your own council’s recycling scheme so you can be sure of putting the right items in the right places.
 

Is your bin contaminated?

Eek – no one likes the word contaminated do they? However in this case it doesn’t have to mean your bin is crawling with lice or flies or anything worse. When a recycling bin is contaminated it basically means something is in there that shouldn’t be.

A good example would be if a bin or receptacle designed only for paper and cardboard had foil in it as well. Another example would be if a bin intended for garden waste had cat litter, plastic bags or other similar items in it. There are many other examples too but the main thing to remember is that you should always make sure each wheelie bin only has the things in it that were intended to go in that bin.

Of course it could also mean there are, for example, baked bean cans that haven’t been washed and still have bean juice in them. That’s why we have to remember the wash it and squash it rule.
 

Make sure everyone in your family knows what should go in your bins

This is perhaps the most important step of all if you are going to avoid the chances of contamination and other potential problems. While you may be the person who puts most of the rubbish outside, it is a good idea if everyone in the house knows which items go in which bin. This means you are far less likely to go outside on bin day, only to discover they haven’t taken your bin because it has a mix of the wrong items in it. This is pretty frustrating as you then have to sort through your bin to remove the offending items – and you still have to wait another week at least to get rid of all the rubbish.

As you can see knowledge is the key here. The more you understand what is required to go in each bin you have, the easier it will be to recycle more and send less rubbish to landfills. Together we can all make the most of our wheelie bins and ensure we recycle as much as possible, taking care of our environment while we do it.

So let’s ask that question again – do you know what needs to go inside your wheelie bins?