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New Recycling and Waste Service - frequently asked questions

The Council is implementing a new recycling service and other collection services designed to be cost effective to operate, simple for residents to use and help keep streets looking tidy across the borough.

Each household will have a wheelie bin for their mixed recycling along with a strong bag for paper and card. These should be presented together each fortnight for collection.

You have a choice over how you present them – if your bag is light enough, you can put it into the top of your recycling bin by placing it on top of your other recycling. Otherwise, please leave it beside your recycling bin.

Your containers will still need to be out by 6am on collection day, and brought back onto your property between collections.

The main change is that recycling will be collected fortnightly from a blue 240 litre wheelie bin (glass bottles and jars, cans/tins/clean foil/aerosols, plastic bottles, plastic pots, tubs and trays) and a blue bag (paper and card). 

Collections will be on the same weekday, in this alternating pattern:

Week 1: recycling and food waste

Week 2: household rubbish, food waste and garden waste (subscribers only)

1: Will my collection day change?

No some people might have a new collection day, but we’ll minimise this to make everything as simple as possible.  Everyone will find that their recycling collection becomes fortnightly, rather than weekly.

2: Why don’t we get calendars any more?

Everyone will have a collection calendar and service leaflet for the first year of the new service.  The Council is on a journey to make services digitally accessible to residents, and has to use diminishing income carefully.  Residents can check their collection day here anytime, and calendars are available there for residents to download/print out themselves if needed.

3: What will happen to the recycling vehicles once the service changes?

The recycling vehicles will be sold for use on recycling services elsewhere.

4: What about my assisted collection?

If we currently give you an assisted collection because of your frailty or ill-health that will continue with the new services.  Keep putting your containers where you do now – as that is the agreed collection point.  You don’t need to contact us.

We may offer you a smaller recycling bin or replace your recycling bin with recycling bags.

If steps or deep gravel mean that you can’t recycle using the box-based service, you will be able to recycle with the new services by using the bags we provide as an alternative to the new recycling bin.


1: Will I need to put shredded paper in a carrier bag before putting it in my blue bag?

Please don’t use a carrier bag to contain your shredded paper, as it will contaminate the load, and may lead to it being rejected. If you have shredded paper, please remember to use the flap on the bag to ‘close’ your recycling bag and prevent the shredded paper making your street untidy.

2: What can be recycled?

All sorts of paper, card, cans, tins, clean foil, empty aerosols, glass bottles and jars, and plastic bottles continue to be recycled.  We are able to add plastic pots, tubs and trays to the new service.  There’s a detailed list of what can and can’t be recycled on our website on our a-z.

3: Why can’t all packaging be recycled?

An increasing amount of packaging can be recycled, and producers are reducing the amount of packaging which can’t be recycled.  Sadly this is something the Council has no control over.

4: Why can’t black plastic be recycled?

Black plastic cannot be seen by some automated sorting equipment.  The Government is encouraging manufacturers not to use black plastic.  You can recycle black plastic cartons and trays through our new service.

5: Where does our recycling go?

We try to ensure that all our material is processed in the UK and is then sold to companies who recycle each material into new items.  After initial reprocessing (such as granulating the plastic) the material is simply a raw material, and will be remade wherever there is a market.

6: Will I be able to recycle tetrapacks?

No.  These are made of so many different materials (such as plastic, card and foil) that they cannot be effectively separated back out into materials which can be recycled.  Most liquids which are sold in tetrapacks can also be bought in easy-to-recycle materials such as glass and plastic – so you can avoid them.

7: What will happen to our old recycling boxes when the recycling bins are delivered?

Currently we have no plans to remove your old boxes. We know that lots of residents have already found creative ways to use recycling boxes!  The boxes are made of a type of plastic which is hard to recycle, and has little value. We’re very happy for residents to keep the boxes and lids, and use them for storage in sheds, greenhouses, lofts and garages, as planters, or for anything else.  If you can’t reuse the box yourself, why not offer it to a friend or neighbour. 

8: Is the new service part of a national change?

The Government is moving towards creating a set of ‘core’ standard materials which all councils will need to recycle.  However, councils will be able to decide how to collect them.

9: Do all properties have the same services?

All properties have collections of the same range of recyclable items and household rubbish, but we may collect in different ways at flats and a small number of other properties. 

10: What can’t we recycle?

We’re trying to find ways to recycle as much as possible, but some things are very difficult, often because they contain multiple materials, such as the foil and plastic on tablet blister packs, have very few uses (like toothpaste tube plastic), or are generated in such small quantities that they aren’t economical to collect or sort (like specs or plastic films). There is a detailed a-z list of what can and can’t be recycled here.

11: What if I can’t store a wheelie bin at my property? 

If your property is unsuitable for a wheelie bin because there are steps or deep gravel from the pavement, you will already be using sacks for your refuse rather than a wheelie bin.  We give you the standard blue bag for paper and card, and a second reusable bag, which is white, for the other materials we collect.

12: Where do I put the recycling bag and bin on collection day?

As with the other collection services, you must put your recycling bin and bag where your property meets the pavement for collection. Take the bin and bag back onto your property afterwards.  If your property is accessed over an unadopted or private drive or track then you will already have a collection point at the nearest adopted highway, and should use that collection point.

13: Where do I put my recycling out if I live in a terraced house?

You need to put your recycling bin and bag out in the place where you already put your household rubbish bin.  If you put your household rubbish bin out at the end of an alley for collection, you will need to do the same with your new recycling bag and bin.  If your rubbish bin is collected from the front of your property, then that’s where you need to put your recycling bin and bag for collections.  Remember: household rubbish and recycling are collected on alternating weeks.

Your food waste will be collected from the front of your house.

14: Can I have more than one recycling bin and one recycling bag?

Yes.  Please wait for a month after the new service starts to see if you can manage with one of each.  If you then find that you need another container, you’ll be able to order them via our website. The bin and bag offer more capacity over a fortnight that the three recycling boxes do.  We’ll make a small charge for delivery of the containers.

15: Will I be charged if my recycling bag or bin is lost or stolen?

Yes.  If your recycling bin or bag is stolen, there will be a charge to deliver a replacement.   The charge will be the same as for replacing a lost or stolen household rubbish bin, and less for a recycling bag.  You can avoid this charge altogether by keeping your containers safe within your property boundary between collections.  Replacement costs are shown on our website.

Residents can collect replacement containers by coming to the depot on Knutton Lane during business hours by appointment. The site is currently closed to the public because of Covid-19 safety measures.

16: What happens if I put the wrong things in my recycling bin and bag?

If you have put the wrong thing in your bin or box we will put a big bright sticker on it to tell you, and leave it unemptied.  We will write to you telling you what the problem is.  We can’t empty your bin or bag if they have the wrong things in them, because contaminated recycling leads to heavy penalty charges for the Council and whole loads of material being rejected for recycling.  You will need to bring your container back onto your property until the next collection, and remove the wrong items.  Then we’ll empty the bin on the next fortnightly collection. 

17: I don’t want a bag.  Why can’t all my recycling go in one bin?

If all the materials are mixed together then it costs a lot more to separate out the recyclables for reprocessing into new things.  Mixing paper with glass means that it has few new uses and is hard to recycle into new things, which is why we collect paper and card in the blue bag. Councils are legally obliged to collect some materials separately if there is more value in them from doing that.  You can only recycle paper and card if you use the bag.  If you put paper and card in the recycling wheelie bin we will not empty it.

18: If I don’t have much recycling, do I have to put my bin out every fortnight?

No.  You can put your bin out every two weeks to make sure it is emptied regularly, or you can put it out less frequently if you need to.  Only put it out on your collection day.

19: Will I be fined if I don’t put my recycling bin out?

No.  Residents are not forced to recycle, but we encourage everyone to use the service because it helps to manage household rubbish properly.  The Council will not empty rubbish bins with raised lids, and over 50 per cent of your household rubbish can be recycled.  The new service is very easy to use – why not give it a try?  If you recycle as much as you can, you’ll have more room in your household rubbish bin.

20: Can I put my house number on my bag and bin?

Yes, please do.  We encourage everyone to mark the containers with at least the number or name of their property.  We know that where several properties share a collection point it can help to be able to identify your own containers.  We charge for the delivery of replacement containers which are lost or stolen, and marking the container with your address will help to prevent your containers being taken.

21: If I have a big cardboard box, do I have to break it down and fit it in the recycling bag?

Yes. The bag will hold a lot of paper and card, and most boxes will be easy to fit in it.  If you break big boxes down into pieces, squash them and undo all their seams, they will fit into the bag. 

22: Why have you stopped collecting small electrical items, household textiles and clothing?

Very few residents put out these items for the old service to collect.  The new service reflects that, and instead includes plastic pots, tubs and trays – items we know lots of residents want to recycle.  Residents can support local charities of their choice by donating their unwanted clean clothes and textiles for reuse and recycling.  Unwanted or broken electrical items can be returned to the store, and all stores selling electrical items are obliged to accept unwanted electrical items, even if they didn’t sell them in the first place. Do not put electrical items in your household rubbish bin.

23: Can I have a smaller bin or larger bin

If you have very limited storage space we may be able to offer you an alternative to the standard recycling bin.  Please contact customerservices@newcastle-staffs.gov.uk.  We don’t have larger containers, but you can order a second recycling bin here . 

24: Can I keep my recycling trolley if I was given one?

Yes.  Please don’t use it for the new recycling service, as it will not fit on the lifting mechanism of our collection vehicle. 

25: Why are we now mixing together our recyclable things?

The market has changed a lot for recyclable materials, and technology and machinery to sort materials is always improving.  Glass, cans, tins, and plastics can be easily sorted out these days.  Paper and card generate more income to support the service if they are collected together.

26: Do I need to take the lids off things like spray bottles?


27: Can I still use my recycling boxes?

You can continue to use a recycling box for paper and card if you wish.

Food waste

1: Where do I put my green food waste caddy for collection?

Keep putting your food waste caddy where you do now on collection day.  If you live in a terraced house and share a collection point in an alley with your neighbours, your food waste will be collected from the front of your house.  For almost every semi-detached or detached property, the collection point will be at the kerbside outside your house.

2: Where does my food waste go?

Food waste is bulked and sent to a Staffordshire anaerobic digestion plant.  Bacteria create gas which is used to make electricity, a compost-like material, and a liquid which is like fertiliser.

3: How do I get more food waste bags?

Tie a bag onto your green caddy’s handle on collection day and our crew will leave you a new roll of bags.

4: What should I put my food caddy out with?

Put your green caddy out with your blue recycling bin and bag one week, and your household rubbish bin the next.

5: Can I have more food caddies?

You can order more or replacement food caddies (both silver kitchen caddies, and green outdoor caddies).  We will make a small delivery charge from January 2021 onwards. 

6: Why can’t I put it into my garden waste bin?

There’s lots of legislation around the processing of food waste, and this makes it quite expensive to process.  Garden waste doesn’t cost very much to reprocess, but adding food waste to it would mean that everything would cost the same as food waste to reprocess.

Household rubbish

1: Does everything that goes to incineration get burnt?

Everything that you put in your household rubbish bin goes to a plant which burns it to make energy.  It’s a ‘waste-to-energy’ facility, known locally as ‘the incinerator’.  No sorting happens to anything in your household rubbish bin.  The gas from the burning is used to make electricity.  The ash from the burning is used in construction.

2: Will my bin size remain the same?

Yes.  We all need to recycle as much as possible, and now that plastic pots, tubs and trays can go into the recycling bin, there’ll be less rubbish in your black household rubbish bin.  The standard size of rubbish bin will remain 180ltrs. If you currently have an old 240l bin you can still use that for as long as the bin is safe for use. If the bin needs to be replaced for any reason, it will be replaced with a new standard 180l bin.


Garden waste

1: What happens to garden waste once it is collected?

Garden waste is taken to a local site to be shredded, mixed and turned into a coarse compost-like material used in horticulture and agriculture

2: Will the garden waste subscription increase each year?

No one likes putting up prices, and we’ve been able to hold subscription charges at the same rate so far. 

3: Why do we have to pay for the garden waste service?

The Council isn’t legally required to collect garden waste at all, but we know it’s a service that residents value.  When the County Council withdrew the subsidy the Borough Council opted to introduce a charge which only users of the service would pay, rather than withdraw the service altogether.

4: Can I put plastic sacks of garden waste in my garden waste bin?

No.  Any sacks can lead to a whole load of garden waste being rejected and sent to the incinerator.  This is because there’s no sorting of what you put into garden waste bins, and the bags would be shredded along with the garden waste, mixing plastic through the compost.

5: What do people do with their garden waste if they haven’t subscribed to the paid-for service?

If you have any space in your household rubbish bin then you can put garden waste in there, as long as the bin lid is closed on collection day.  You can turn your garden waste into compost at home, or take it to a Household Waste and Recycling Site operated by the County Council, like the one at Leycett.


Last updated 9 April 2021

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