Students in Bristol

This is your place to find out everything you need to know about recycling and waste in Bristol as a student.


Welcome to Bristol!

As a university student in Bristol, recycling can make a real difference to your new city. Getting passionate about sustainability improves many other areas of city life too, including reduced waste rates, cleaner streets and parks, less litter in wildlife spaces, and tidier, more accessible pavements.

Knowing how the recycling system works shows you care for where you live and understand why it’s an important part of improving the health of the city and planet.

You have the power to shape Bristol

Taking charge of your waste and recycling is an immediate way to have a positive impact on Bristol. While you’re studying in Bristol, you are a citizen of the city. Whether you’re here for a year, several years or planning to stay for good, you can help make Bristol an even greener and cleaner city through your actions. Recycling and proper waste management also shows respect for your housemates, your neighbours and your new home town.

Bristol university students sitting on a bench looking at the city of Bristol

How does recycling help the planet?

Recycling is crucial to the future health of our planet

Recycling helps us conserve our natural resources because it reduces the need to grow or extract new raw materials from the Earth. Often it takes more energy to grow and form new materials than to recycle an existing one. This, in turn, reduces the amount of climate-changing emissions.

Food waste

Recycling your food waste stops it going into landfill where it produces high levels of methane – a gas with a 21x greater global warming potential than CO2. Food waste collected in the brown caddy bins in Bristol goes to GENeco, a local anaerobic digestion plant, where it generates electricity annually for over 6,500 homes.


Overflowing bins around the city can lead to litter ending up in our parks, forests and rivers. Bristol is fortunate enough to have many green spaces, so it’s especially important that we put our litter in the bin or take our litter home if a public bin is already full.

A step further?

Proper recycling is extremely important, but not the entire solution. Check out some of our tips for reducing your overall waste here.

Bristol waste and recycling bins and boxes

What goes in your recycling boxes

In Bristol, we have a kerbside sorting system where residents sort recyclable materials into designated recycling boxes. This helps our crews complete their rounds efficiently and means we gather great quality recycling.

Visit our ‘Get It Sorted’ page for a full breakdown of what goes where in your different recycling boxes and bags. 

Get it sorted

Students on the move!

Moving out? Exams are nearly over and summer is beckoning, but first you need to decamp from your student house and get that deposit cash back into your pocket. Find everything you need to know about sorting out your move out waste and recycling.

Students on the move

Bristol student recycling guides

Not sure what day we collect your waste and recycling? We have handy calendars for the full year that you can download or print off. Just download the collection calendar here.

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 guide
(2 MB)

Bristol Waste employee clears fly-tipped waste and recycling

University students can report recycling and waste issues too!

Have you ever spotted abandoned rubbish and wanted to do something about it? You can help keep your local area clean and tidy by reporting issues you see on the street. If unreported, piles of rubbish or dumped items can continue to pile up – not a pleasant sight!

Types of problems you can report on the Bristol City Council website:

three students sitting around a table with laptops laughing

Did you know that Bristol and South Gloucestershire have different collections?

If you are a student at University of West England (UWE), you may be a resident under South Gloucestershire Council. Be aware that Bristol Waste’s rules and services apply to Bristol residents only. Check out South Gloucestershire’s Recycling Guide for Students here.

Two students litter picking with litter picks, bags and high-vis

Get involved

Litter picking is a rewarding way of helping keep Bristol clean and free from rubbish. Hosting a litter pick can be a great way bring friends together and get involved with your local community. There are dozens of established groups across the city with new ones popping up all the time.

Simply fill out one of our forms and we’ll supply you with the litter picking sticks, high-vis vests and bags!

Rent a litter picking kit
University students moving boxes

Moving out?

Not sure what to do with your waste and recycling when you move out? Whether you’re leaving halls or your own house, save yourself some worry and have a read of our moving out guide for students.

Move out guide