Why has my recycling bin not been collected?

If your recycling bin has been tagged, it cannot be collected as it may contain:

  • wrong items that can not be recycled
  • items that are too dirty from contact with non-recyclable materials, like food and liquids

Putting the wrong items in your recycling bin can spoil the rest of the recycling collected. This results in:

  • your bins not being collected
  • recycling going to waste
  • extra financial costs for the council - this money could otherwise go towards other vital services in Southwark, like schools, community support and vulnerable care

This guide tells you what to leave out and what to put in each of your bins so we can collect it on your next scheduled day.

Remember if in doubt, leave it out

What to do with the wrong items in my recycling bin

Make sure you have removed the incorrect items from your bin before your next recycling collection day so we can collect it.

Items you should not put in the recycling bin include:

Wrong items

Where should it go

Food waste

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This can spoil good quality recyclable materials, particularly paper and cardboard, so remember to empty and rinse out any food containers before putting them in your recycling bin. Find out more about food waste.  

Recycle your food waste separately. We collect food waste free of charge from street level properties with space to store their own bin. If you don’t have a food waste caddy, you can order one for free. Or, if you have access to a garden, you can compost at home.

If those options aren’t available to you, please put food waste in your rubbish bin.

Tissues, nappies and sanitary items

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Put it in your rubbish bin.

Did you know that you can request a free trial pack of reusable nappies? Using real nappies can help reduce your household waste by nearly half and it can also save you up to £500 per child.

Clothing and textiles

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Textiles can cause a lot of issues at our recycling facility and can break the machinery by getting tangled.

Textiles in an unusable condition can be recycled separately at the Reuse and Recycling Centre and textile banks located across the borough.

Bin bags and plastic bags

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Put your recyclable items loose in your blue bin without using plastic bags.

You can reuse plastic bags or take them to your local supermarket collection point to recycle them.

Plastic film and wrapping

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This includes items like bread bags, plastic packets and cling film. These items can be recycled at some supermarkets, to find out more visit the Recycle Now website. Otherwise, please put them in your rubbish bin.


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Polystyrene cannot be recycled and needs to go in the rubbish bin. It easily breaks down into tiny pieces which spoil other materials collected for recycling.

Electricals and batteries

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Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) should not be placed in either your recycling or your rubbish bin. This is because they often contain hazardous substances which can start fires in our collection vehicles or at our facility.

If the items are still working, you can donate them to charity. If not, you can dispose of them at the Reuse and Recycling Centre or at some electrical retailers.

Garden waste

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Put in your garden waste bin for collection (you will need to sign up for garden waste collections) or compost at home

I need further assistance

If you cannot remove the wrong items or need further advice or assistance, please contact us by email environment@southwark.gov.uk or phone 020 7525 2000. 

Page last updated: 06 July 2023


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