I only have a blue bin
If you only have a blue bin, it can be used to recycle paper, card, cardboard, plastics, metals and cartons.
Information is detailed below on what goes in your blue bin.
On your day of collection, please place your bin on the kerbside with the lid closed by 7am.
Unfortunately, we cannot take anything that is not in the bin. It is vital that all items are in the bin with the lid shut.
What can I put in my blue bin?
If you only have a blue bin, you can put all of the following items in it:
Newspapers, coloured magazines, brochures, catalogues, unwanted mail, envelopes (including those with windows), shredded paper, phone directories, yellow pages
Cereal boxes, kitchen and toilet roll tubes, washing powder boxes, card sleeves from food packaging, corrugated cardboard boxes. Tip: Flatten cardboard boxes to save space.
Plastic drinks, detergent and shampoo bottles. Rinse out and squash them to save space. Tip: Remove the lids and put them in the blue bin too. You can recycle clear and coloured plastic.
Lids from plastics bottles, margarine tubs, ice cream tubs and coffee jars. Remove lids and put them in the blue bin.
Tin cans, drinks cans, clean foil and foil pie/quiche trays. Make sure aerosol cans are as empty as possible and that foil and cans are not contaminated by food waste. You don't need to remove labels. Put the lids in the blue bin too.
Juice, soup, custard and smoothie cartons. Tip: Flatten to save space and remove lids and put them in the blue bin too.
Yoghurt and pudding pots, noodle pots, ready-made soup and pasta pots.
Ice cream, margarine tubs, ready meal tubs. Tip: Take the lids off and put them in the blue bin too.
Ready meal and microwave food trays, fruit punnets, biscuit trays. Please rinse to make sure they are not contaminated by food waste.
Clean carrier bags, bread bags, pre-packed vegetable bags, cereal and pasta bags. Tip: Please don't put anything inside plastic bags, it prevents them being separated at the recycling facility.
What should NOT go in my blue bin?
Please don't put these items in your blue bin:
- Tissues, kitchen roll and paper towels are usually wet or dirty and cannot be recycled. They should be placed in the grey bin.
- Food waste or items with food waste on them can spread through the load when compressed in the collection vehicle, contaminating other items. Please ensure your recycling is clean, empty and dry before putting it in your blue bin. This is our biggest problem with contamination as wet and dirty items are rejected at the recycling facility.
- Like food waste, cooking oil and fat can spread through the load in the bin lorry and contaminate other clean recycling. Unfortunately West Lothian's Recycling Centres do not accept cooking oil. Please pour cooled cooking oil into a sealed container and place in your grey bin.
- Glass is broken by being compacted in the back of the collection vehicle. It can then injure the staff that sort the materials and it also contaminates the recycling, which means that the load will be rejected by the recycling facility. Please take glass to a glass recycling point.
- Please don't put your recycling inside plastic bags. If material is inside plastic bags it prevents it being separated for recycling. Unfortunately we have also found that plastic bags often contain general waste, which if opened spread across the conveyor belt, causing the whole process line to be stopped and cleaned, causing delays and increasing processing costs.
- Clothing, textiles and shoes cannot be accepted in the blue bins. They cause operational problem at the recycling facility as they can wrap round the wheel of the conveyor belts at the recycling facility, which have to be stopped for the fabric to be cut out. Please take clothing to a textile bank.
- Polystyrene cannot be recycled in the blue or green bins. Please put it in your grey bin.
- Although plastic, toys cannot be recycled in the blue bin. They have the potential to damage sorting equipment as the recycling facility is not designed to deal with this type of material.
- Waste electrical equipment cannot be processed at our recycling facilities and those with batteries can also cause fires in our collection vehicles. We have a separate company who collect and recycle this waste from our recycling centres, therefore please take any waste electrical equipment to one of our five Community Recycling Centres.
- Batteries have the potential to cause fires in our collection vehicles and at recycling facilities. Please take all batteries including household batteries, rechargeable batteries, lithium ion batteries and car batteries to one of our five Community Recycling Centres.
Top tips for blue bins:
- Everything must be clean and dry - wet and dirty materials such as food and drinks waste, nappies and pet waste, spreads through the whole load and means it will be rejected and landfilled.
- If your blue bin contains items in black bin bags or plastic bags it will not be collected.
- Please try not to compact the material in your bin, this can result in your bin being half emptied on collection day. If your bin is not fully emptied due to the material being compacted, or frozen together in winter months, it is your responsibility to loosen the material ready for your next scheduled collection. No additional collection will be provided for half emptied bins.
- Please ensure that your bin is not too heavy as this can result in the bin lip snapping and the bin falling when lifted onto the lorry. This is dangerous for collection staff. If your bin is deemed to be too heavy it will not be emptied and it is your responsibility to ensure items are removed so that the bin can be emptied on the next collection day. No additional collections will be provided for bins which are considered to be too heavy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Recycling collections are every two weeks. If you only have a blue recycling bin, your collections will alternate between the blue bin and the grey bin. If you have a brown bin, it will also be collected every two weeks. You can check your bin collection days here.
If you only have a blue bin for recycling, it can be used for paper, card, cardboard, plastics, metal and cartons.
- Junk mail
- Cereal boxes
- Kitchen and toilet roll tubes
- Cardboard egg cartons
- Envelopes (including those with windows)
- Cardboard boxes (including corrugated card).
- Empty aerosols
- Clean tinfoil
- Empty plastic bags e.g. carrier bags, bread or vegetable bags
- Empty and clean plastic bottles e.g. shampoo, detergent or drinks bottles
- Empty and clean plastic trays e.g. from microwave meals, fruit punnets or biscuits
- Empty and clean plastic tubs e.g. margarine or ice cream tubs
- Empty and clean plastic pots e.g. yoghurt pots, pudding pots, noodle and soup pots.
- Empty and clean cans e.g. drinks cans.
- Empty and clean tins e.g. soup, beans, tuna etc.
Please ensure all material is rinsed out and dry before going in your blue bin.
Contamination is any material or substance present in the bin which shouldn't be there, for example nappies or glass in the blue bin. Food and liquid contamination are the main issues we face when dealing with recycling in West Lothian, as when products like half full juice bottles, yoghurt pots which haven't been rinsed, dirty tins or full milk cartons are collected and compacted in the bin lorry the food and liquid can spread over even more material. There is no way of cleaning material at our recycling facility, therefore if material arrives which is too contaminated it cannot be processed for recycling. This is particularly problematic when paper and card is mixed with food contamination as this soaks up more of the liquid and cannot be separated for recycling. At the moment around 83% of the blue bin material in West Lothian is contaminated, which can include food waste, liquids, dirty nappies, used tissues, unrinsed food packaging, glass, clothes, etc. This means that the material can't be recycled and ends up as landfill or energy from waste. It costs the Council more money to dispose of landfill material than it does to dispose of recycling material, if that recycling is clean and dry. This is why we ask that all material in the blue bin is clean and dry before going in the bin, meaning we can simultaneously save waste from landfill and save money which can be spent on other essential Council services - it's a win win!
Contamination is any material or substance present in the bin which shouldn't be there, for example nappies or glass in the blue bin. Food and liquid contamination are the main issues we face when dealing with recycling in West Lothian, as when products like half full juice bottles, yoghurt pots which haven't been rinsed, dirty tins or full milk cartons are collected and compacted in the bin lorry the food and liquid can spread over even more material. There is no way of cleaning material at our recycling facility, therefore if material arrives which is too contaminated it cannot be processed for recycling. This is particularly problematic when paper and card is mixed with food contamination as this soaks up more of the liquid and cannot be separated for recycling.
At the moment around 83% of the blue bin material in West Lothian is contaminated, which can include food waste, liquids, dirty nappies, used tissues, unrinsed food packaging, glass, clothes, etc. This means that the material can't be recycled and ends up as landfill or energy from waste. It costs the Council more money to dispose of landfill material than it does to dispose of recycling material, if that recycling is clean and dry. This is why we ask that all material in the blue bin is clean and dry before going in the bin, meaning we can simultaneously save waste from landfill and save money which can be spent on other essential Council services - it's a win win!
Material is separated at the recycling facility by hand sorting when it arrives, therefore some contamination can be removed, such as bulky items. However, there is no way of cleaning the material which is contaminated by food or liquid, mainly because the damage has already been done when the food/liquid has been spread over all the material in the bin lorry. The paper and cardboard soak up this liquid and food which cannot then be cleaned. However, if each household rinses their containers before they are collected the likelihood of contamination is reduced.
The Council does a lot to try and educate residents about the importance of waste reduction and recycling. The Waste Education and Engagement team visit schools and community groups regularly to promote the 3 R's, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. They can provide presentations to discuss what should go in each of the bins both at school and at home. The team also have lots of fun games and activities for all age groups (including adults!) to provide information about what should go in the bins and how our material is recycled.
The team also arrange a variety of events throughout the year to promote reuse including clothes swaps and reuse show homes, while also being available to discuss any queries householders have about their recycling.
In addition to all of these fun activities we also have literature in the form of leaflets and bins stickers available should householders wish to read up on recycling and ways to reduce contamination. Please also keep an eye out on our Household Recycling page on the website and on social media for lots of up to date information about your household bins and how, where and what to recycle. We have a variety of pages with hints and tips on our website to help you understand recycling and avoid contamination, as well as reducing how much waste you produce. Check out the Waste Education for Schools and the Community and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle pages on the website for more info!
If you are interested in receiving more information about recycling or waste education materials or would like our Waste Education team to visit your school or community group please complete the online form available on the website: Enquire About Waste Education Resources.
No, householders cannot have a larger/additional black bin instead of recycling bins in order to dispose of their waste. The purpose behind the smaller grey bin is to encourage residents to recycle more waste and make use of their recycling bins by reducing the landfill waste capacity available at the kerbside. Should householders have any additional landfill waste this can be disposed of at their local Recycling Centre.
If households have medical needs which require an additional bin this should be arranged through your District Nurse.
If households have a large family which requires additional grey bin capacity you can apply for an additional grey bin using the Request an additional grey bin form on the website.
Bins should be stored within your property and not left out on the street unless it is on your scheduled collection day. For flatted properties it is the responsibility of the factors to ensure that there is sufficient storage for the bins to avoid bins being abandoned on the street and blocking access paths.
While the Council appreciates that residents have requested kerbside glass recycling, unfortunately there are no plans to implement this system at the moment. Glass recycling is available at all of our CRC's and at various locations throughout the county and we would encourage residents, where possible, to utilise these collections which will also help to save space in your grey bin.
Glass recycling locations can be found on the Glass Recycling webpage.
Yes, while we all need to take responsibility for our own waste and ensure that it is disposed of in a sustainable manner, retailers and businesses should also take some responsibility for the packaging they produce. There are various changes to legislation and new initiatives which have already seen progress in reducing packaging by encouraging businesses to sign up to voluntary initiatives.
For example, the UK Plastics Pact aims to reduce the amount of plastic packaging on supermarket shelves and create a circular economy by ensuring plastic waste does not end up in our seas and countryside. You can find out more information and which companies have agreed to sign up to the initiative on the WRAP website: WRAP UK Plastic Pact.
The Courtauld Commitment is a voluntary agreement which brings together organisations across the food system to make food & drink production and consumption more sustainable. You can find further information on this, including which companies have signed up to the initiative, on the WRAP website: WRAP Courtauld Commitment.
The Scottish Government have also passed legislation which will come into practice throughout Scotland in July 2023 for a Deposit Return Scheme on all drinks sold in glass, metal or PET plastic containers. Under this scheme all retailers who sell products in these containers must provide a return point where customers can get their deposit of 20p back for each container. The aim is to encourage both manufacturers and retailers to provide sustainable packaging and ways for consumers to sustainably dispose of the packaging after use, but also to encourage local residents to do the right thing by the environment and return their packaging. Again, this scheme will promote a circular economy for our packaging to ensure the valuable resources remain in the system in a sustainable manner and are not wasted in our oceans and local environment.
Unfortunately, we are not able to provide different sizes of bins because we don't have the space for the additional storage. We have to order a significant number of bins in the size we require in order to make the cost achievable for us. The number of smaller size blue and green bins we would need to order for a limited number of households would be prohibitive and our funding is limited.
Under the current legislation (Environmental Protection Act 1990 s.46)
'The waste collection authority may, by notice, require an occupier to place the waste for collection in receptacles of a specified kind and number.'
This is why West Lothian Council, as the waste collection authority, is not required to carry out a consultation process regarding recycling bins.
We understand that the recycling system may not be convenient for everyone but we have endeavoured to provide the most appropriate service to reduce contamination, environmental impact and waste disposal costs in order to benefit everyone.