Manage waste at home in 3 steps

A woman, standing in her kitchen, is looking at two plastic bottles in her hands before putting them in the recycling bin.

Manage waste at home in 3 steps

Find out how to manage your waste and recycling between collection days, free up more space in your general waste bin and keep smells at bay.

  1. Make more space in your general waste bin
  2. Fit more in your recycling boxes
  3. Reduce smells

1. Free up space in your general waste bin

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

The easiest way to free up space in your general waste bin is to make sure you’re not filling it up with recyclables.

In Bristol, we have kerbside recycling containers for glass, metal, paper, plastic, cardboard and food. You can also recycle things like batteries, shoes, textiles and small electricals. For a full list, visit the Get It Sorted webpage. 

Stop food waste from filling up your bin

A plate of pasta is being scraped into a food waste bin by an unseen person.

More than a quarter of the average wheelie bin in Bristol is taken up by food waste – some of it still in its packaging! The easiest way to free up space is to put food waste in the brown caddy and any recyclable packaging in the black box, green box or blue bag.

(Find out what happens to Bristol’s food waste when you recycle it.)

More ways to recycle in Bristol

Signs at the Avonmouth recycling centre.

Recycling doesn’t have to stop at the kerbside. As well as a household collection service, Bristol has three Reuse and Recycling Centres where you can recycle even more items. 

If you’re already recycling as much as possible at the kerbside and recycling centres, check out the recycling options at your nearest supermarket. Some shops now have soft plastic collection points, helping you to free up even more space in your bin. Use Recycle Now’s recycling locator to find one near you. 

Finally, you might be able to reduce how much you’re throwing away. Visit our blog for ideas or sign up for the Waste Nothing Challenge to see how much you can shrink your waste in just 30 days.

2. Fit more in your recycling containers

Three plastic bottles on a plain background showing how squashing a bottle can make it smaller. The first bottle isn't squashed, the second bottle is flattened, and the third bottle is compressed down into a fist-sized ball.

Squash, fold and scrunch your recycling

Fit as much as possible into your recycling containers by squashing, folding and even cutting up your recycling. 

  • squash plastic 
  • squash aluminium items like drink cans if you can 
  • cut up, fold and squash cardboard 
  • flatten paper and magazines and stack them neatly in the black box 
  • squash drink bottles and cartons while the lid is off and then screw the lid back on. 

Did you know your blue bag can hold a whopping 90 litres? That’s a lot of cardboard!

3. Reduce smells

A person is washing a glass milky bottle at a kitchen sink.

5 ways to reduce bin smells

Food waste is the most common cause of smelly bins, especially if there is unbagged food in the general waste bin. Unlike the wheelie bin, your brown food waste bin has a secure lid mechanism to stop pests and prevent smells.

  • make sure you bag all food waste and put it in the brown bin
  • use a liner to keep your food waste bin clean 
  • if you can still smell your food waste, try double bagging it
  • rinse your recycling containers if they’re mucky (or leave them out in the rain for a day) 
  • rinse plastic, glass and metal food and drink containers before putting them in your recycling. 

Remember, food waste doesn’t have to be wrapped in compostable bags. Reusing plastic bags, such as those from bread or cereal packaging, is a great way to keep your caddy clean and reduce smells.

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