Blue Bag FAQs

Find out below all you need to know about why we are asking you to PACK YOUR BAG!


About the cardboard bag trial

We are introducing a new bag for cardboard to make collections easier for residents and crews. The new bag will help Bristol increase its recycling rates, enable crews to sort the recycling more quickly, reducing congestion and our carbon footprint, as well as giving residents more space for the growing amount of card used.

Following a successful trial in Stockwood, each household will be provided with a new blue reusable bag for their cardboard, instead of placing it in the green box. The bag, which is 100% recycled and recyclable, will be rolled out across the city from Monday 21st October and the rollout will be completed by the end of February 2020.

In the UK we use approximately 5 billion cardboard boxes every year, that’s around 83 boxes per person and that means a lot of cardboard going into your recycling boxes. For every tonne of cardboard recycled, it saves 17 tress, 7,000 gallons of water and 4,000kw of electricity. Nearly 3,000 extra tonnes of Bristol’s cardboard could have been recycled last year. Just think of the difference that could make!


Do I need to do anything differently?

Instead of putting card and brown paper in your green box, we ask that you put it in the blue bag. The date of your collection will not change, recycling will need to put out before 6am on your collection day. You just put your new bag out with your regular recycling collection. Once you have received your blue bag, cardboard must be presented within this and will not be taken if it is presented in the green box.


What can go in the bag?

This bag will be used for cardboard, brown paper and clean food and drink cartons only, no other recycling or waste should go in this bag. White and any coloured paper will continue to be placed in your black box. Examples of what should go in the bag are cardboard packaging, cereal boxes, egg boxes, birthday cards, clean cartons and tissue boxes. We ask that all card please be flattened and all tape removed. No dirty pizza boxes or paper drinks cups please.


How big is the bag?

The bag is 45 cm square and holds 90 litres.


Will you take excess cardboard? I have more than will fit inside the bag.

We will only take cardboard presented inside the blue bag, however the bags have a large capacity. Cardboard not presented in the bag will not be collected. If you have a lot of cardboard, you may choose to put it out over a couple of collections, or take it to your nearest Household Reuse & Recycling Centre (Avonmouth or St Philips). Large sheets of cardboard (i.e. television packaging boxes, etc) should be flattened and either folded or cut into smaller pieces so they can fit into the bag and therefore the vehicle. We will not accept polystyrene. Cardboard that is not broken down in this way will not be collected. Please do not leave cardboard outside on the pavement between collections as they block access and can attract street litter and flytipping.


What we will do with empty bags after collection?

We will place your new blue bag into the recycling containers that you presented for recycling and return to your kerbside. Please remember to take your containers in after collections.


Can I still put card in my green box?

No. Once you have received your blue bag, only card presented in the blue bag will be collected.


What won’t you collect?

We will only empty your blue bag if it contains cardboard only. If it contains any other materials that should instead be in your black or green box, the bag will not be emptied. Cardboard heavily contaminated with food waste will also not be collected.


What if I don’t want to use the bag?

The bag is being introduced to improve roadside collection efficiency; reducing the time spent sorting materials, ensuring we reduce congestion on the roads and our carbon footprint. We are asking everyone to use them and won’t collect cardboard at the kerbside any other way.


Will I have to give the bag back?

We have no plans to ask for the bags back. However, the bags are the property of us at Bristol Waste and as such they could be collected in the future.


What happens to the cardboard Bristol Waste collects?

When you leave cardboard for collection, it could be back on the shelf or wrapped around a parcel in as little as 14 days. The cardboard is sent to a reprocessor who pulps and recycles it into more cardboard products.


My blue bag has gone missing. How do I get a new one?

Just like your black and green boxes, we recommend that residents write their house name/number on their recycling bag to be sure you have the right one when removing it from the kerbside.

If your bag is lost or stolen, please call Bristol City Council 0117 922 2100 to request a new one. Once all the bags have been delivered across the city you will be able to order one online as well


I live in a flat – will I be getting a blue bag?

Households that currently have recycling boxes you place at the kerbside, including flats, will receive a new bag for cardboard. If you currently live in a property that uses a mini recycling centre, there will be no changes and you can continue to use the facility as usual.


Why did you choose a bag and not a box?

With each property having two boxes already and following a successful trial in Stockwood we believe that the bag will be easier for the residents to store and use. The bag will be better value for money for the city.


Does this replace the new blue box we’ve heard of?

Yes, this was the most practical option.


What is the bag made of?

We are proud to say the new bags are 100% recycled and recyclable which includes the weight in the bottom to stop them blowing away. This is a world first for this type of bag and was an important part of our procurement process. They are made from a hard-wearing plastic material, designed to have a long life and endure the full range of Bristol seasons!


Where have they come from?

In all our decision-making we are mindful to choose the most sustainable option suitable. At the time of ordering the best option for us was a manufacturer in China. To reduce the carbon footprint we chose to have them transported by ship instead of flown.


How can it be recycled?

If your bag breaks and needs replacing, we will collect the broken bag when your new bag is delivered. The whole bag, including the weight, will be recycled alongside our other hard plastic streams.


Can I have more than one bag?

The bags hold much more capacity than the previously used green boxes. Twice the amount in fact which should be ample for most households. You will only be issued with an extra bag if you can demonstrate a particular need, on a regular basis. For those times when you have excess in a week we’d suggest holding some cardboard back for the following week’s kerbside collection or take to your nearest Household Waste & Recycling Centre.