The Difference in Recycle Bin Colour


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In the last decades, recycling has gone from a novelty to an everyday part of life. From having just one domestic dustbin to the current variety of coloured household bins found today.

Colour coding has been used to identify the purpose and materials that can be recycled, but now with so many varieties, what do they all mean? If you are confused, this list is for you.

Waste And Recycling

Not all of your waste can be recycled. Most households will have either a black bin or a green bin for their domestic waste. These should only be used for waste that can’t be recycled or composted.

Food waste can contaminate recyclable materials, so make sure to separate any paper or card that has been contaminated, put the uncontaminated in your paper recycling bin and put the rest in your green or black wheelie bin. The food waste itself may be good for composting.

There is a long list of plastics that can’t be recycled, or must be thoroughly cleaned. Make sure you make yourself aware of what plastic items can and can’t be recycled.

With some diligence and research, you can significantly reduce the waste that ends up in your black or green bin and always use biodegradable bin bags.

Blue Recycling Bins

The use of blue recycling bins changes throughout the country. Blue ones are most commonly used to collect ‘dry’ recyclables. This includes paper and cardboard items such as newspapers and magazines, cereal boxes and other paper or card packaging.

In some areas, they are used for collecting metal recyclable materials such as drink and food cans and biscuit tins. Check your bin lid for information about what rubbish to put in it.

blue recycle bin in office

Red Recycle Bin

Red recycling bins are generally used for plastics, however, ascertaining which plastics can be recycled can be confusing. Common household items such as plastic drinks bottles, shampoo and body wash containers, cleaning product bottles (after rinsing), yoghurt pots, and food trays are all recyclable and can be collected from your red bin.

However other plastics such as plastic bags, polystyrene, black plastic trays, plastic wrapping, bubble wrap, and hard plastics such as flower pots and coat hangers can not be recycled and should be separated and put in your black/green wheelie bin.

red recycle bin with plastic

Brown Recycle Bin

To add to the recycling confusion there are the brown recycling bins. In some parts of the country, they are used for mixed recyclable waste products and containers such as aerosol cans, plastic bottles, aluminium cans, tin foil, glass bottles, plastic lids and other household items.

You could find you are in an area where a brown bin is for organics such as garden waste and food waste.

A green bin could be used for a number of different purposes depending on your location. The most common is for glass recyclables such as bottles & jars.

In other areas, they are used for the collection of ‘dry’ recyclables instead of a blue recycling bin.

In some areas, you may have a green food waste recycling container that’s for food organics that are converted into energy and fertilizer. Residents with a green container can dispose of household rubbish and food organics such as fruit and vegetable peelings, leftovers, tea bags and coffee grounds. Recycling your organics is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Yellow Recycle Bin

We have a few more colours to add to your household recycling containers.

Yellow bins are mainly used for textile collection, it’s unlikely you would have one at home, but if you work with textiles or produce a lot of textile waste, you may want to think about acquiring a yellow bin.

Grey and Purple Recycle Bins

Grey and purple bins are used for different purposes around the country, so check out the full range of recycling options you have in your area.

Recycling Tips

For residents of any part of the country, it’s important to make an effort to reduce your environmental impact. Organizing your household rubbish and understanding your recycling responsibilities can help you recycle efficiently and effectively.

Knowing what items you commonly throw away, be it takeaway containers, clothing materials, garden waste, delivery packaging or chip packets, make sure you have the correct recycling bin for your rubbish.

If your bin is kept outside, you may want to sort your rubbish inside into a separate paper recycling bin, a bag for plastic shopping bags which you can re-use, containers for aluminium and other metals, containers for your different plastic waste and use biodegradable bags for your food waste.

Where you store a bin is an important consideration too. Always keep your paper recycle bin somewhere dry and safe from contaminants, keep your plastic waste separate, if your recycling bin is stored outside, make sure the bin has a secure lid.

Before throwing any packaging in your recycling bin, make sure you empty all the contents, check if you need to separate any lids into a different bin, thoroughly clean all plastic packaging, check things like biscuit packets if they are plastic or foil and separate hard plastics from soft plastics.

To make sure everyone in your household knows the correct waste and recycling procedure, you can consider making a paper sign that helps the people in your home use the right bin for the right waste. Of course, you should also add which day, mon fri, your waste is collected.


Waste and recycling is a responsibility we should all take seriously so make sure you know the purpose of each recycling bin in your area. Let’s put a lid on unnecessary waste.