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by Craig Pryce September 24, 2021

With constant changes to what can and cannot be placed in particular household waste containers, many householders are confused by what should be placed in which bin.

With the prospect of every household across the UK having seven wheelie bins each by 2024, it’s time for clarity around what does and doesn’t belong in the general waste bin.

This waste container is the bin that items get thrown into when a householder isn't sure if something is recyclable or not, but this behaviour needs to change for the environment's sake.

So, let’s dive into what can and cannot be placed in your general waste bin.

What colour bin is used for general waste?

Firstly, you may be wondering which colour is used for the general waste bin. This varies around the country, but the most common colour for the general waste bin is black.

Other standard colours include blue and green.

What you can’t put in your general waste bin

A trailer full of garden waste with a pitchfork and a green bucket, located in a garden

We’ll start with the ‘do nots’ as they are arguably more important. So, what can you not put in a black bin?

Your black/general waste bin is for any waste that doesn't belong in the rest of your containers.

Every household currently has a different set of bins, depending on location, and for that reason, it isn't easy to be specific.

However, we can provide some examples.

If an item doesn't suit your mixed recycling bin, garden bin, or food waste bin, it goes in your general waste bin.

Likewise, if you have an item that doesn't belong in your paper and cardboard bin, glass bin, or garden waste bin.

In addition, your general household waste bin isn't for anything hazardous, large, or heavy.

In summary, then, these items are often not to be placed in your general waste bin:

  • Recyclables (plastics if they can go in your recycling bin, paper, cardboard, aluminium, glass)
  • Garden waste (such as soil and large branches)
  • Food waste
  • Bricks/rubble
  • Gas bottles
  • Hazardous waste (such as batteries, paint, needles and syringes, low-energy lightbulbs, fluorescent lightbulbs, asbestos)
  • Electrical waste (anything with a plug)
  • Liquids
  • Textiles
  • Commercial waste

If your black bin contains any of the above items, then your local council reserves the right to refuse to empty it.

What you can put in your general waste bin

A cat litter box with a pink scoop located on a painted wooden floor next to a bengal cat

We've looked at what you can't put in your general waste bin, but what should you put in a black bin?

‘General waste’ refers to:

  • Dirty nappies
  • Used sanitary products
  • Carrier bags
  • Cat litter and bagged dog mess
  • Pet bedding
  • Plastic types that your local council can’t recycle
  • Kitchen towel, tissues, and napkins
  • Cigarette butts (once fully extinguished)
  • Cotton wool and buds
  • Full vacuum cleaner bags or the contents of your vacuum cleaner
  • Non-recyclable food packaging
  • Heavily soiled pizza boxes
  • Light bulbs
  • Broken household glassware such as Pyrex dishes and mirrors
  • Food waste where a separate food waste bin isn’t supplied

If you have waste you are unsure about, then contact your local authority before placing it in a bin; placing non-recyclables in your general waste bin could ruin entire batches of recycling, and placing recyclables in your general waste bin means they aren't going to be recycled, which is terrible news for the environment.

If you’d like to know where to buy a black wheelie bin (or a general waste bin in another colour), you can browse the selection on our website or get in touch to discuss your requirements.

Craig Pryce

Craig Pryce

With over 17 years of experience in the waste and recycling industry, Craig is passionate about making recycling easier and reducing the negative impact of litter. He has been the managing director of Wheelie Bin Solutions (WBS) since January 2016, and prides the company on his expert knowledge, top-quality products, and customer service. His proudest moment was when WBS supported the 2012 Olympic Games, working in partnership with Contenur UK to supply over 9000 bin containers to all Olympic venues. Craig is always keen to share his knowledge, so whether you need advice about the benefits of a wheelie bin lock, or ideas for alternative uses for your wheelie bin, Craig will ensure your recycling and waste disposal habits are gold medal worthy.