Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about what you can and can’t recycle in Suffolk? Or are you interested in why you can or can’t recycle certain things? This frequently asked questions page should help. And remember, if you have any more questions, you can get in touch with us through our contact form. Who knows, your question could end up being added to this page.

What can and can’t I put in my recycling bin?

Click here to find out

When is my recycling bin collected?

Your recycling bin is collected once a fortnight and the collection day will vary depending on where you live in Suffolk, so if you’re unsure about when to put your bin out please ring your local council. You can find all their numbers by visiting our Contact Page

Can I put glass in my recycling bin?

No, glass should not be placed in your household recycling bin. Please take your glass bottles and jars to your nearest bottle bank or local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

Why can’t I put glass in my recycling bin?

Glass should not be placed in your household recycling bin, because the sorting facility is not set up to accept it. Please take your glass bottles and jars to your nearest bottle bank or local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

There are a number of reasons for this.

  1. The bottle banks are really well used. About 70% of all the glass bottles and jars used in Suffolk are currently being recycled through the glass bank network (that’s about 16,000 tonnes of glass recycled every year in Suffolk).
  2. A move to collecting glass separately at the kerbside may cost the taxpayer more money than the existing glass bank system.
  3. There is new national legislation which strongly discourages the collection of glass mixed with other materials, especially paper. This is because glass breaks down into tiny pieces and then contaminates the paper.
  4. Since 2015, many improvements have been seen at glass bank sites. Glass banks have been introduced at 21 new locations as well as extra bins at 19 existing locations across Suffolk. All banks have been clearly labelled to encourage the collection of colour separated glass, to ensure better quality and encourage more glass recycling.

Can I put bottle tops and lids in my recycling bin?

No loose bottle tops or lids please. Anything smaller than 4cm won’t get recycled as it falls through in the sorting process. However, your bottle tops can be recycled if you follow these easy steps:

Plastic bottle tops
To make sure your plastic bottle tops get recycled, please wash, squash your plastic bottles and put the top back on. This way they will get recycled with the bottle.

Metal bottle tops and lids
Please leave metal tops on glass bottles and jars when you recycle them at a glass bank. This way they will get recycled with the bottle.

Food Can lids
These can be placed in your recycling bin as they are bigger than 4cm.

Aerosol can lids
Aerosol lids can be placed separately in your recycling as long as they are larger than 4cm diameter.

Can I recycle black plastic items?

Black plastic can be included in your recycling bin. Due to the dark colour, black plastic is notoriously difficult for some sorting machines to detect, however our recycling contractor works hard to recover as much of this material as possible

Can I recycle textiles and clothes in my recycling bin?

No textiles and clothes please. We are no longer accepting any textiles in your kerbside recycling bin, bagged or loose. Please donate clothing to charity shops, or to take it to your nearest recycling banks instead.

Why can’t I recycle textiles and clothes in my recycling bin?

In 2012 we introduced a trial scheme for bagged textile recycling. We have found that a lot of the textiles we were collecting were good quality items that would be better dealt with in textile collection banks or charity shop. Most textiles and clothing arrive at the sorting facility loose, either because the bag they were in has split, or it was not securely tied, or because they have been put in the recycling bin without a bag. They end up being dirty and damaged and can’t be recycled. For these reasons, it is no longer operationally practical or cost effective for us to continue to collect textiles in the recycling bin.

Where should I recycle textiles and clothing?

This does not mean we are any less committed to the recycling of textiles. Please take your textiles and clothes to a textile bank or local charity shop instead. This way, more of your textiles will be reused or recycled rather than risk being damaged or contaminated in the recycling process. And it helps raise money for your chosen charity.

Find your nearest clothing bank here.

Find your nearest charity shop here.

You might even want to hold your own swishing event. Read more here.

What should I do with my leftover textile recycling bags?

If you have any bags left, please use them to take your textiles to a bring site, or donate your good quality items to a charity shop.

Why is it important not to put food waste in my recycling bin?

Food waste can spoil the clean recycling and be dangerous and unpleasant for the people who sort it. Make sure that any food packaging is empty, clean and free from any food residue.

Can I recycle crisp packets and food pouches?

No – these are made from mixed materials which are difficult to separate for recycling. Please put them in your rubbish bin.

Can I recycle plastic bags and film?

Please don’t put them in your recycling bin at home as they can cause operational problems at the sorting facility. You can recycle them at your local Recycling Centre or Supermarket.

Can I recycle polystyrene?

No, we cannot accept polystyrene for recycling. Please place it in your rubbish bin or place in the non- recyclable rubbish container at your local Recycling Centre.

Can I recycle gas canisters?

Do not put gas canisters in your recycling bin or your rubbish bin as they can cause explosions and be dangerous. However, some empty gas canisters can be taken for recycling at your local Recycling Centre. Calor and Flo gas canisters are stored in separate cages. Please ask site staff, so they can be placed in a safe place.

Can I recycle small items less than 4 cm?

No. Anything smaller than 4cm, such as loose bottle tops or shredded paper, won’t get recycled as they fall through in the sorting process and it isn’t cost effective to sort small items further.

However, you can ensure plastic bottle tops are recycled by simply washing and squashing your plastic bottles and then popping the top back on. The bottle top will then be recycled along with the rest of the plastic bottle.

Metal lids and tops can be recycled with glass bottles and jars at a glass bank.

Collect foil into a tennis ball size before putting in your recycling bin.

Try to keep paper as large as possible in your recycling bin. Shredded and torn paper can be:

    • Added to your compost bin at home,
    • added to green waste collections in Waveney, Suffolk Coastal and Ipswich,
    • or put in an envelope or paper bags and taken to a bring bank.

Can I recycle nappies?

No. Please always put disposable nappies in your rubbish bin. Disposable nappies should never go your recycling bin. 1500 nappies are picked from the recycling every day, which is not a pleasant task! If you are interested in trying re-usable cloth nappies click here.

I have saucepans with glass lids, can the lids go in my recycling bin?

No thank you, we cannot accept any glass for the reasons stated above. However, any metal saucepan, pots, pans and trays (including non-stick pans and cast-iron cookware) can all be included in the recycling bin – even if these have wooden or plastic handles.

Can I put electrical items in my recycling bin?

No, all electricals should be taken to your local Recycle Centre (or, in Ipswich and Suffolk Coastal to a recycling bank for small electricals). Electricals and batteries contain precious and hazardous material, please don’t put them in your general rubbish bin either.
Batteries can be taken to a Recycling centre or supermarket.

Can I recycle all books?

If your books are in good enough condition to be read again,  it is better to donate them to a charity shop for reuse.  Otherwise all books are acceptable in your recycling bin but you need to remove any spiral bindings before recycling. Plastic or metal bindings can be recycled at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

Can I recycle aerosol sprays that contained hazardous material?

No unfortunately not. We cannot accept paint, pesticides, weed killers, oven cleaners, fertilisers or insecticides in your recycling bin even if they are empty. However, these containers can be placed in your rubbish bin as long as they are empty. Alternatively, please contact your local Council for advice.

What happens to the waste in my rubbish bin?

Waste from Suffolk’s rubbish bins is no longer sent to landfill, but is instead taken to the energy-from-waste facility in Gt Blakenham (efw) where it is used as a fuel to make electricity (enough for 30,000 homes!) Whilst this is a much better environmental solution for Suffolk’s waste, it is important to make sure we only send non-recyclable waste to the efw. By recycling as much as we can, we are making sure that we are getting the best use from our resources and it ultimately costs the taxpayer less.