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What can I recycle?

In Leicester, we provide orange bags for recycling in houses and small properties, and communal bins for most flats.

What can I put in orange bags/shared recycling bin?

You can put the following items in your orange bags. Please make sure you rinse all items that contained food or drink - no food waste will be accepted.

  • Paper
  • Envelopes (plain and with windows)
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Leaflets and junk mail
  • Catalogues and directories
  • Paper bags (without fabric handles)
  • Wrapping paper (without glitter or foil)
  • Diaries and calendars (paper pages only, hardback covers should go in the bin)
  • Books (paper pages only, hardback covers should go in the bin)

  • Corrugated cardboard boxes and packaging
  • Kitchen and toilet roll tubes
  • Cardboard food packaging such as cereal boxes and ready meal sleeves
  • Greetings cards (without foil, glitter, decorations, or battery powered music and lights)
  • Drink and food cartons, for example Tetra Pak

  • Glass bottles
  • Glass food and beauty jars
  • Perfume bottles

  • Tins and cans
  • Chocolate and biscuit tins
  • Kitchen foil including yoghurt lids and chocolate wrapping – please scrunch together into a ball
  • Foil food and takeaway trays and pie cases

  • Plastic bottles and lids
  • Single-use plastic pots, tubs, trays, punnets, and containers
  • Plastic takeaway containers.


  • Rinse - please make sure all items that have contained food or drink are clean and dry. 

If you have orange bags: 

  • Fill up your bags - you can use as many orange bags as you need for your recycling
  • Tie your bags - securely tie the top of the bags, as this helps to reduce litter
  • Collection - put your bags out next to your black bin on your collection day.
  • Large card - flatten large cardboard boxes and place underneath orange bags.

What if I have a communal bin?

Place recycling loose into bins or use transparent carrier bags/bin liners. Orange bags are not issued to residents with communal bins.

Biffa is responsible for the collection, treatment and disposal of all of Leicester’s waste and recycling and works to ensure it is dealt with in an environmentally responsible manner. 

All of the recycling collected in Leicester is transported to one of Biffa’s sorting centres, called MRF’s (Material Recovery Facility). A combination of specialist technology and hand sorting is used to separate the mixed recycling into categories such as glass, aluminium, PET (such as water bottles) and HDPE (such as milk bottles).

Each of these sorted materials are then sent to a facility designed especially to clean and recycle that particular material and turn it into a product that can used to make new items.

The global export markets for the materials separated are subject to change. To ensure the best environmental outcome possible, if a suitable market cannot be identified by Biffa, some materials may not be sent for recycling until such time that a reliable market can be established. The next best option is to send these materials to Energy from Waste plants where they are used to create electricity for the national grid. This is only done as a last resort.

What should go in black bins/shared general waste bins?

The following items cannot be recycled and should be placed in the refuse bin.

  • Polystyrene or styrofoam
  • Nappies
  • Tissues and kitchen roll
  • Crisp packets, sweet wrappers, or mixed material food pouches
  • Toothpaste tubes
  • Hard plastics such as Tupperware, CD and DVD cases, coat hangers and plant pots.
  • Mixed materials such as Jiffy bags and laminated paper
  • CDs/DVDs and video tapes
  • Plastic or foil wrapping paper
  • Bubble wrap
  • String/cord
  • Balloons, streamers and banners
  • Tinsel, baubles, bows, ribbons, cracker novelties.
  • Wallpaper, tissue or crepe paper
  • Mirrors
  • Broken glass
  • Drinking or decorative glasses or ceramics
  • Toughened glass such as pyrex or oven dishes
  • Spectacles
  • Corks
  • Plastic or stuffed toys
  • Firework cases
  • Food waste or peelings
  • Pet bedding such as wood shavings, straw, or hay
  • General waste such as hoover contents or cigarette ends


What should go in garden waste bins?

If you subscribe to the garden waste service you can compost garden waste such as leaves, grass cuttings and hedge trimmings. Visit our garden waste service page for full details.

What should be taken to a recycling centre?

The following items cannot be recycled in the orange bags and shared recycling bins but can be recycled or disposed of at one of our recycling centres.

Items marked as hazardous must always be recycled correctly as they can be dangerous if disposed of incorrectly.

Please remember that if your items are too large for you to dispose of, for example large furniture or mattresses, you may be able to dispose of them for free through our bulky waste service. If items are still in good working order please consider other options such as donating them to our reuse shop.

  • Batteries including all household, lithium (hazardous), and car batteries (hazardous)
  • Saucepans, frying pans, baking trays, knives, and other metal items
  • Paint (hazardous), paint tins and pots
  • Energy saving lightbulbs and fluorescent tubes (hazardous)
  • Wood
  • Clothing and footwear
  • Linen, towels and other textiles
  • Building waste, rubble, bricks, tiles and soil
  • Garden waste, such as larger branches, hedge cuttings, real Christmas trees and turf
  • Electrical and electronic items (hazardous) such as electric toothbrushes, toasters, kettles, hairdryers, straighteners, power tools, cables and wires (any items powered by a battery or that has a plug)
  • Hard plastic items such as children’s toys and storage boxes
  • Cooking oil
  • Engine Oil
  • Asbestos (hazardous)
  • Chemicals and bottles previously containing chemicals (hazardous)


Clothing, shoes and textiles cannot be recycled in orange bags or recycling bins. They can be donated or recycled at our reuse shop or placed in one of the textile recycling banks across Leicester. For more ideas of what you can do with your unwanted clothing see our reduce and reuse page.

You can recycle the same materials as in the orange bags at home at many of our recycling banks. You can also recycle clothes and shoes at some sites where there are textile banks.

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