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:

  • Glass
  • Paper
  • Magazines

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.

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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

'Get It Sorted' bin tags

Is there a yellow or red ‘Get It Sorted’ tag on your recycling box? This is how our crews explain issues with the way your recycling is presented. It is to help residents recycle more and waste less.

The new hangers will 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, it’s 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 tag

Red box tag

Thank you sticker