Get it sorted

Household recycling

Find out how to correctly sort your boxes and what happens to your recycling after collection.


Let's get it sorted!

Learn more about what goes where in Bristol’s kerbside recycling system. Click on each type of container to find out what it should be used for.

In the box:

  • Paper
  • Magazines
  • Glass

In separate, untied bags:

  • Usable and dry textiles
  • Batteries
  • Shoes (tied in pairs)
  • Small electric items such as toasters, mobile phones and remote controls
  • Spectacles

Next to the box:

  • Engine oil (in a sealed container)
  • Car batteries

Give these items a quick rinse, squash them if they’re squashable and place in the green box:

  • Cans
  • Plastic bottles
  • Lids and caps
  • Plastic packaging (no black plastic or plastic film)
  • Aerosols (empty with the lids removed)
  • Foil

All your leftover cooked and uncooked food should go in the brown food bin, including:

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Cheese and dairy
  • Meat, fish and bones
  • Plate scrapings
  • Eggshells
  • Bread, pasta, rice and cereal
  • Coffee grounds and tea bags

You can use newspaper, a compostable liner or an old plastic bag to line your food waste caddy.

All your clean cardboard recycling should go in the blue bag. Remember, it all needs to fit inside the bag with the lid closed in order to be collected so you will need to flatten, fold or cut up any boxes.

  • Boxes (remove tape)
  • Cartons (rinsed and squashed)
  • Greetings cards (no glitter)
  • Brown paper
  • Cardboard tubes

Watch our 'Get It Sorted' video

Download a guide

Do you have your own recycling boxes and bins? This is the guide for you.

pdf icon

Kerbside recycling guide
(2 MB)

Do you share recycling bins with your neighbours? This handy guide for mini recycling centres (MRC) will tell you everything you need to know.

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Mini recycling centre (MRC) guide
(2 MB)

What happens to your recycling?

Cardboard squashed into a baled


Once your cardboard has been collected it is transported to the local reprocessing plant. It is then flat packed and baled before being soaked, pulped and repurposed back into new cardboard packaging.

Blue and clear plastic bottles


After your plastic is collected, the crews transport it to our waste transfer station to be compacted into bales. The bales of plastic go to the local processing plant where the plastic is broken down and cleaned. These smaller pieces of plastic can then be melted and moulded into new plastic items.

Green and clear glass bottles


Glass can be melted down and turned into new items over and over again, so it’s important to always put it in your recycling box rather than your wheelie bin. It is transported to the local reprocessing plant where it is separated into different colours, items such as light bulbs and windowpanes are removed. The glass is then melted down and moulded back into new glass items.

Glass recycling
Bales of cans for recycling


Recyclable metal is taken it the local processing plant to be separated. The metal elements are then melted and treated to make new raw materials. Once completed, the recycled metal can be used in the production of a new product.

Metal matters
image of wildflowers

Garden waste

Bristol’s green and garden waste is composted and used by local farmers as fertiliser. You can also buy the compost from our Reuse shop at the Avonmouth Recycling Centre.

Top tips for garden waste
Container full of colourful food waste

Food waste

Bristol’s food waste is taken to GENeco in Avonmouth where it is processed by an ‘anaerobic digester’. This is a bit of kit which acts like a giant stomach and turns the food waste into methane-rich biogas which is used to generate electricity and gas for 6,500 homes in Bristol.

Food waste reduction tips

Received a 'Get it Sorted hanger' on your box? Here's why…

We are trailing a new way for our crews to tell residents about issues with the way their recycling is presented. This is to encourage residents to recycle more and waste less.

The new hangers will be rolling out in a few areas of the city to test if we can help residents correct any issues and ensure Bristol can recycle as much as possible. It will also help keep our crews safe as well.

If you receive a hanger, don’t be disheartened, its there to help you understand how to present your recycling properly. On the back you will see a list of issues the crew may have encountered with your recycling.

We ask that you please rectify the problem for your following week’s collection. If there are continued problems the crews will not be able to collect your recycling.

Yellow box hanger

Red box hanger

Thank you sticker

FAQ – Get it sorted box and bag hangers

If you have received a box or bag hanger saying there’s a problem with your recycling you can find out more about the trial to help residents recycle more in these frequently asked questions.

Residents are encouraged to look at the webpage: where there are downloadable leaflets and a short animation which shows what goes in each container, or they can call 0117 922 2100 for more help. Details are on the box and bag hanger.

Anyone can request a translation of the box and bag hanger into any language should they need. A translation offering this service is in Polish and Somali is on the handle of the hanger.

The hanger left on your box should have more information about what the problem was. Simply follow the advice on there to help ensure you get it right next time. It’s good to check that you have the right items in the correct container and remove any non-recyclable items.

If you would like to find out more about how to sort your recycling, please visit

Please remove the item and put the box or bag out for collection the following week and it will be collected. To avoid passers-by putting unwanted items in your containers keep them off the street between collections.

The crews will have taken a photo of the container so we will be able to see it. Contact Bristol City Council 0117 922 2100 to discuss what the issue is.

You can order the boxes online at or for boxes and bags call 0117 922 2100.

The box and bag hangers have been made from recycled material and can be recycled in your black box as paper.

Once you have received a hanger with information on how to improve your recycling, we’ll keep an eye on how you are getting on. By simply following the information given, there should be no reason your recycling isn’t collected next time. However, if after four weeks we do not see any improvement, it may be that we will no longer be able to collect your recycling until you get it sorted correctly. To find out more about how to do this visit

It’s important to us and the health of the city that we recycle as much as possible. When recycling isn’t sorted properly, and the wrong items are placed in a container, it can make it hard to recycle and in the worst case, result in our reprocessors rejecting a whole bale of materials.

Items such as used tissues or PPE put in the recycling can also put our crews at risk. We believe this trial will help residents understand any mistakes they might be making and help them to correct it, ensuring we recycle more and waste less.