What goes in my green-lidded bin?

Thank you for putting the right things in your green-lidded bin. If you’re unsure about a particular item or have general questions about your recycling, this page should help.

Putting only the right items in your green-lidded bin means these things can go on to be recycled as you want to see.

The wrong things in green-lidded bins can contaminate otherwise good recycling in the bin or even in the lorry load itself, meaning less can be recycled and an increase in sorting costs.

Households are trying hard to put the right things in, but in a world full of different types of materials and items it’s easy to get caught out. Items such as soft plastics, for example, can show recycling symbols or use messages like ‘100% recyclable’ even though in practice it’s not possible for them to be recycled in your green-lidded bin. Sometimes we might put things in green-lidded bins that we feel should be recycled, or that we hope can be.

The first and best thing to do is check our Right Thing Right Bin leaflet. That’ll tell you at a glance what can and can’t go in all your household bins.

Find information on the paper and card bin

In the main it’s items such as plastic tubs and bottles, glass, tins and cans and no paper or card. If you’re unsure the first and best thing to do is check our Right Thing Right Bin leaflet in the downloads section to the right. That’ll tell you at a glance what can and can’t go in all your household bins.

At a glance, items which must not go in green-lidded bins include:

  • Paper and cardboard (such as paper, magazines, newspapers, greetings cards without glitter/foil, cereal packets, household packaging, etc. These should go in your purple or purple-lidded bin only, or in the black bin if damp, soiled or shredded), never the green-lidded bin.
  • Any takeaway packaging (black bin only for this even if it looks clean, unless it’s clear or light plastic which is rinsed and dry. Please don’t put parts of packaging which look clean in the recycling – it should all go in the black bin.)
  • Tissues or kitchen roll (black bin only)
  • PPE such as masks (black bin only for these, bagged)
  • Batteries or electrical items (these should not go in any household bins as they cause a hazard, but taken to your local recycling centre instead).
  • Soft plastics such as plastic bags and bread bags (these can go instead to soft plastics collection points at various shops and supermarkets or the black bin if not possible)
  • Polystyrene (black bin only for this)
  • Clothes/textiles (these can go to your recycling centre or donation points, or if not possible can go in the black bin as a last option)
  • Food pouches and crisp packets (local Terracycle schemes may be able to help, or put in the black bin if not possible)
  • Black or brown plastic food trays (black bin only)
  • Hard plastics e.g. old toys, plant pots (these are best being donated if in good condition, taken to your local household recycling centre or if not possible then the black bin as a last option with all batteries removed)

We take lots of things which are recyclable, however sadly in reality not all items can go in your green-lidded bin at home even though they may carry recycling symbols or even say they things like ‘100% recyclable”. It’s best to look up the type of item you have against local information – like our Right Thing Right Bin leaflet – rather than relying only on what the packaging says.

We collect the same items as other district councils in Lincolnshire, besides one or two local differences which you don’t need to worry about in North Kesteven. These items have been the same for a long time. There are two things which may feel like lots has changed: we’re asking households to put paper and cardboard only in their purple or purple-lidded bin, and we’re also focusing on contamination across both recycling bins.

Our role is to collect your waste, so it can go on to be processed and recycled. If wrong things go in bins they can contaminate the rest of the items in the bin, and even the lorry load itself, meaning that some items are lost and can’t be recycled. If everyone does their best to sort their recycling at source, at home, we can ensure that as much as possible stays clean dry and uncontaminated and can go on to be recycled as households expect. It’s all about taking responsibility for the things we put in our bins at home. 

Once collected and moved on to the contractor in Lincolnshire, recycling is sorted using a part automated/part manual process. Staff at the contractor still need to sort the right materials into the relevant waste streams and to quality assure the materials that are sent to them.

The contents of your green-lidded recycling bin are taken to a waste transfer station where it is bulked up with the rest of the day’s waste from that waste stream (i.e., all mixed dry recycling together, separate from paper and card and from residual waste). Correctly sorted recyclable waste from the green lidded bin goes to the recycling contractor in Lincolnshire to be sorted into plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays, glass, and metals which are sent on to processors for recycling.

Our contractors maintain high standards in how the materials are processed and recycled and are obliged to report on the end destinations of these materials that have been recycled. Where possible all materials are recycled and used in the UK and if not a small amount may be sent to Europe where they are used to create new recycled products. All non-recyclable waste we collect in Lincolnshire is sent to the Energy from Waste facility at North Hykeham where it is used to create renewable energy and is not sent to landfill.

They can’t go in at all, even if they look clean. It’s the black bin only for these please where they’ll be made into electricity. Takeaway food packaging absorbs grease and food residue, sometimes hard to see, which means they can’t be recycled. Whilst we appreciate that some people may tear off cleaner parts of packaging to go into their purple-lidded bins, our crews collect 10,000 bins each day and are also unable to check whether the rest of box is in the bin too.

Households are trying hard to put the right things in, but in a world full of different types of materials and items this is difficult at times. Sometimes we might put things in green-lidded bins that we feel should be recycled, or that we hope can be, but this isn’t what’s best for the environment as these things can’t be recycled from your green-lidded bin and  may contaminate other good recycling and incur increased sorting costs.

If in doubt, don’t put it in and hope. The first and best thing to do is check our Right Thing Right Bin leaflet. That’ll tell you at a glance what can and can’t go in all your household bins.

It’s better that items which aren’t recyclable - if they can’t be reused, donated or go to collection points – are put in the black bin. There we can be sure they won’t contaminate otherwise good recycling, which impacts on how much can be recycled, and causes increased sorting costs.

From the black bin they’ll be made into electricity from waste. Very little in Lincolnshire goes to landfill.

It’s best if you can try to find other uses for non-recyclable items first. Soft plastics such as carrier bags and crisp packets for example can go to soft plastic collection points in lots of supermarkets and shops. 

These are things such as plant pots and old toys, and can’t be recycled from your green-lidded bin. It’s best they are reused, donated or taken to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre, or if not possible put in the black bin with any batteries removed. 

Why not get creative and see what solutions there are? A local gardening centre near you for example may take plant pots back to be reused or recycled, or you could donate good condition children’s toys to local groups.

We don't have any green bins smaller than the standard size. In the trial areas it was found that the standard size bins were about right to meet most people's needs so it might be that things balance out once you've been recycling in the new system for a while. Please contact recycling@n-kesteven.gov.uk to discuss. Hope that helps! 

We really do hope households will stick with it and keep up their fantastic efforts - already in the loads being collected there is less contamination than before and the materials look cleaner and drier.

It's important we all keep at it - recycling is one of the most direct things we can all do at home to help reduce the world's dependency on new materials and natural resources. 

We'd be really keen to speak with anyone who is vulnerable in any way and feels they're struggling so we can offer the most appropriate assistance and advice - if you know of anyone please do encourage them to give us a call or contact recycling@n-kesteven.gov.uk.