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What goes in which bin?

This page gives you information on what items you can put in your recycling bin and box and what should go in your rubbish bin and garden waste bin.

It's really important that you follow these guidelines as it helps to reduce contamination and means we can recycle, reuse or compost more of your waste. If you put wrong items in the wrong bin, this could result in the whole bin lorry load being classed as 'contaminated' and rejected for recycling. 

The majority of residents place their general rubbish into black bin bags to keep their bins clean and odour free. This helps our crews who are being exposed to unbagged waste such as pet waste, food waste and nappy waste.

Unfortunately many residents are also placing recycling in black bags into their recycling bin. Black bags and carrier bags can't be recycled in the same way as plastic tubs and pots and therefore contaminate your bin. Any food waste, pet waste and dirty nappies, for example, placed in the recycling bin adversely effects the quality of the material often resulting in large volumes being unable to be recycled.

We have placed stickers on  all household waste rubbish and recycling bins across the county as a reminder of what goes where.

Transcript video Your guide to recycling in County Durham (PDF) [105KB]


Our recycling wagons have separate, split compartments. Your recycling bin is emptied into one side and the glass box is emptied into the other. Glass and recycling are sorted differently at the recycling plant and this means more of your waste can be recycled and turned into new products.

For every item we recycle, we are reducing the need to use raw materials, which helps save energy and precious resources. It only takes a quarter of the energy to make a plastic bottle from recycled plastic as from new materials. Metal and glass packaging can be recycled endlessly, without loss of quality. Imagine how much energy you could save! 

What goes in my recycling bin

Do not place masks, lateral flow device tests, gloves or aprons in your recycling bin. If anyone in your household has symptoms or has tested positive for Covid-19, your items should be double bagged and placed in your rubbish bin.

Do not put your recycling into black sacks or plastic bags - put the items loose into the bin. If you have extra recycling and it won't fit in your bin, put it into a clear/see-through plastic bag and leave it next to your recycling bin.

When recycling, please remember:

  • wash and squash items - this saves space, keeps your bin clean and stops contamination
  • cardboard boxes  can go in your recycling bin - large ones can be flattened and placed next to your recycling bin or you can take them to the household waste recycling centres, please make sure cardboard is dry, we cannot recycle wet cardboard
  • do not put clothes, shoes or bedding in your recycling bin - these should be taken to charity or your local recycling centre

The following items go into your grey recycling bin with the blue lid.

MaterialYes pleaseNo thanks


  • all plastic bottles (squash and replace lids and pumps/triggers)
  • plastic pots (such as yoghurt, cream)
  • plastic tubs (such as margarine, butter, ice cream)
  • plastic trays (such as fruit, meat)
  • hard plastic containers
  • children's toys
  • bags/wrap/film
  • ready meal food trays
  • polystyrene/bubble wrap
  • plant pots
  • black plastic and bags
  • all carrier bags
  • crisp packets
  • black plastic cartons

Mixed paper and card

  • all paper
  • cardboard boxes - large cardboard boxes can be flattened and placed next to your recycling bin, please make sure cardboard is dry - we cannot recycle wet cardboard
  • greetings cards (plain cards without foil, glitter or ribbon)
  • envelopes
  • pizza boxes (supermarket) - only the cardboard outer can be recycled in your recycling bin.
  • kitchen paper
  • baby/facial/cleaning wipes
  • nappies
  • tissues
  • shredded paper 
  • Pizza boxes (takeaway). Put these in your rubbish bin. This is because the box is often contaminated with food and grease.
  • Put the polystyrene disc and plastic wrap from supermarket pizza boxes in your rubbish bin.

Food tins and drink cans

  • all steel and aluminium food tins and drink cans
  • tin foil and foil trays
  • biscuit and sweet tins
  • cutlery or any other metal objects
  • pans
  • oven trays


  • all cartons eg fruit juice, drinks and soup
  • squash and replace lid
  • polystyrene


  • aerosol cans

Plastic recycling in County Durham

Find out more about plastic recycling in the county: Plastic Recycling in County Durham.

The milk bottle journey - video transcript (PDF) [109KB]

Your guide to plastics recycling video transcript (PDF) [100KB]

General plastics recycling in County Durham video transcript (PDF) [106KB]

Plastic bottle recycling in County Durham video transcript (PDF) [103KB]

What goes in my recycling box

The following items go into the recycling box.

MaterialYes pleaseNo thanks

Glass bottles and jars

  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Clean metal only lids and caps can be placed in your recycling bin.
  • broken glass
  • Pyrex
  • light bulbs
  • mirrors
  • flat glass

If you regularly have lots of glass, it's best to request an extra green box for free and split the bottles and jars between them both. Lighter boxes are better for our crews to pick up and empty - you can ask for another box on our Ask for a new bin page.

Soft Plastics

Soft plastics are lightweight plastics that cannot be placed in recycling bins at home. These include bread bags, salad bags, plastic crisp packets, pasta bags and chocolate or biscuit wrappers. You can now recycle your soft plastics a large number of supermarkets and stores across County Durham. Please check with your local supermarket or store before recycling.

Other recyclable items

Find a full list of A-Z household waste items in our  Recycling A- Z (PDF) [160KB] .


What goes in my rubbish bin

If in doubt, keep it out of your recycling bin - if you're unsure whether you can recycle an item, leave it out of your recycling bin and put it in your rubbish bin. The following items go in your rubbish bin.

MaterialYes pleaseNo thanks

Household waste

  • domestic household waste that cannot be recycled
  • used kitchen paper
  • baby/facial/cleaning wipes
  • nappies
  • pet waste
  • polystyrene/bubble wrap
  • plastic bags/wrap/film/crisp packets
  • food waste that cannot be composted
  • ready meal food trays
  • broken glass
  • disposable lighters - if they are unable to be refilled, place in your kerbside refuse bin. You must make sure they are completely empty first. If your broken lighter is predominantly metal (such as a zippo style lighter) it may be recycled at your nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre. Again, you must make sure it is completely empty.
  • recycling
  • rubble or bricks
  • vehicle parts
  • items which may make the bin too heavy
  • batteries
  • clothes/textiles
  • cassettes
  • duvets and bedding
  • vapes
  • unused or expired medication (please return to your pharmacy)

Ecigarettes and vapes

We are currently trialling ecigarette and vape recycling at several points across County Durham. You can recycle undamaged ecigarettes and vaping devices at one of the following Waste electrical and electronic equipment (weee) recycling points - simply place your ecigarettes or vapes in the tube provided.

All of our household waste recycling centres also accept vapes.

What goes in my garden waste bin

Please do not bag your garden waste - put it loose in the bin. The following items go into the garden waste bin.

Material Yes pleaseNo thanks

Garden waste

  • grass cuttings
  • shrubs
  • leaves
  • weeds
  • flowers and plants
  • hedge clippings
  • prunings
  • small branches (thinner than 7cm in diameter)
  • plastic / black bags
  • bio-degradable or compostable bags
  • plant pots / plastic trays
  • kitchen / food waste
  • soil / bricks / rubble
  • nappies
  • paper / plastic / cardboard
  • textiles/clothing
  • pet waste
  • children's toys
  • garden ornaments
  • large branches (thicker than 7cm in diameter)
  • diseased plants / leaves
  • toxic plants such as Rhododendron, Yew, Ragwort, Foxglove, Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed, Hemlock
  • batteries
  • petrol / gas canisters / chemicals

Food and pet waste must not be added to your garden waste to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Soil attached to roots is not a problem, but large amounts of soil make the bin extremely heavy and difficult to empty. You can take any surplus soil to one of the household waste recycling centres.

Plastic and pottery cannot be composted. Please reuse where possible or dispose of these in your rubbish bin or at a household waste recycling centre.

Diseased plants/leaves - advice from the Forestry Commission

If leaves are from a tree free from infection they can continue to be composted and disposed of using our garden waste scheme.

Leaves from infected trees or trees suspected of being infected should not be removed from the site, so do not put them in green waste bins for composting as this risks spreading the disease. Burning them on site is the best option.


It is really important that you don't put batteries of any kind in any of your bins. They can cause fires in our refuse vehicles or at the waste sorting facilities. Most supermarkets have battery recycling areas or you can take them to one of our small electrical waste collection points. 

Small electrical waste 

Unused or broken electrical items, small enough to fit in a carrier bag, can be taken to one of our collection points across the county. Please don't put them in any of your bins. A full list of our collection points can be found here.

Nappy contamination

If you do choose to use disposable nappies, please ensure you place them in the correct bin. Nappies cannot be recycled and should be placed in your rubbish bin. We are supporting Keep Britain Tidy's nappy contamination campaign 2021 which aims to educate parents, grandparents, childminders and carers that disposable nappies should never be put in the recycling bin and to encourage them to dispose of nappies correctly. Please don't put any nappies in your recycling bin as this is contamination.

Finding out when your collection day is

Please enter your house number and postcode into My Durham. You can download a collection calendar which tells you when your bins will be emptied.

What happens if you put the wrong things in the wrong bin

You will find a yellow sticker on your bin and a letter through your door to help you to understand how to 'Bin it right'. You may also receive a home visit to explain recycling in more detail. 

If you continue to place non recyclable items in your recycling bin you will receive an orange sticker and will have to remove said items and place your bin out on next collection day. 

Bin It Right Bin It Right - mobile version

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