Getting your recycling sorted – the best thing for Bristol and for the planet

13 bins, what a load of rubbish!

As global leaders gather at COP28 to discuss climate change, Bristol retains its crown as number one core city for recycling. But how? 

Is it the mythical THIRTEEN bins that several national news outlets have speculated we have this week?! Well, there may be some truth to that (spoiler alert. We don’t have 13 bins).  

Bristol has a declared climate emergency and recycling has a big part to play in helping, but with just five bins (and an optional sixth if you choose to use the garden waste service), how do we manage it? 

Bristol recycling: #GetItSorted

So why do we do it?  

Separating recycling at home really matters. What it gives us is really good quality recycling that is not contaminated with lots of other material types.

That means we can choose who we sell our recycling to; a good quality product is more desirable than something that needs sorting, which in turn means we can try and keep it within the UK, and we can charge more for it, which means we can reinvest more into sustainability and recycling.


And by collecting recycling weekly, it’s a really handy system for residents to dispose of their waste easily and responsibly, which means less goes in the black bin; helping the environment and saving the city money. It also prevents overflowing bins. 

An illustration showing Bristol's recycling containers: black box, green box, blue bag and brown food waste bin

The system works 

  • Last financial year Bristol households reused, recycled or composted 45.6% of their total household waste – 5.3% more than the national average. 
  • The city’s residual waste has fallen by 10kg per household per year, since 2020-2021. 
  • Food waste recycling in Bristol has increased by more than 20% over the last few years. 

It seems some people outside the city were surprised when the Prime Minster talked about a ‘seven bin system’ in September 2023, but the residents of Bristol didn’t even blink. They have no trouble in using our six-bin system and generally no complaints on the number of bins – even when we rolled out an additional bag for cardboard a couple of years ago.  

It’s true, local authorities must find the balance between making it as easy as possible for households to recycle and making sure that what is put out for collection is of high enough quality to actually be recycled. But as a company who has sustainability at its heart, what is clear to us is that no matter what announcements are made, and what goals are moved, we must not roll back on our own ambitions. We are committed to help Bristol waste nothing. We do not need a target to know it is the right thing to do. And if you feel the same, why not sign up to our 30-Day Waste Nothing Challenge? 

We’ve distilled all our knowledge, insights and zero waste hacks into daily challenges, set by experts, full of waste reducing, money saving ideas and activities.  

And a friendly reminder to please take your bins and boxes off the streets between collections. It ensures the streets are accessible to everyone wanting to move around the city and helps prevent littering and fly-tipping.  

Thanks to everyone else for being top recyclers and helping Bristol maintain its No.1 spot for recycling! 

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