Putting the wrong waste in your bins

See what you need to do with your waste if it's contaminated.

If you put the wrong waste in your bins, or there is food, oil, or grease left on the items, this is called ‘contamination’ and our crew will put a paper hanger on your bin or box letting you know they can't collect it.

Common items that contaminate bins include:

  • food waste left in packaging - the food should be cleaned off
  • paper and card - this must go in your red bin or box
  • batteries - these can’t go in any household bin as they can explode and start a fire in the bin lorry; they must be taken to your local supermarket or major electrical shop
  • nappies, plastic bags and film, crisp packets, salad bags and wrappers, coffee cups, and cartons and Tetra Paks - these must go in your black bin or purple sacks

If you’re not sure what item should go where, you can check what goes in your bins or boxes.

You must remove the wrong waste or clean the items so we can empty it on your next collection day. If you don’t want to wait until your next collection day, you can take your waste to your nearest tip or recycling centre.

Contamination of just one bin or box can mean we have to reject a whole waste collection round. When this happens, the waste has to be burnt instead.

We might also have to pay a fine that would mean less money to spend on council services.

Questions and answers about contaminated recycling bins

My recycling was not collected and a hanger was left on my bin. What happens next?

This means your bin had one or more wrong items inside. This is called contamination. You need to remove the wrong items and put your bin out on your next recycling collection day.

Can I report my recycling bin as missed if a hanger was left on it?

No. As your bin was not collected because it was contaminated, it is not a missed bin and you cannot report it. You should remove the wrong items and put your bin out on your next recycling collection day.

I can't tell which items were incorrectly put in my bin. How do I find out what should and shouldn't be in there?

Your hanger has a short list of wrong items commonly found in recycling bins. You can also check our recycling leaflet we recently sent out to all households.

If you’re still not sure, check the quick list on stickers we have put on red and blue bins, or use the where to put your waste directory.

I've always put certain items in my recycling bin - why won't you collect it anymore?

Recycling contamination is a huge problem as too many ‘wrong’ items in a truckload of recycling can mean the whole lot cannot be recycled and will be burnt instead.

Kent County Council (who process our recycling) now has stricter rules on how much contamination can be accepted.

Can I just put all my rubbish in my black bin or purple sacks?

No. All rubbish in your black bin or purple sacks will be burnt rather than recycled, and this means materials will be lost before the end of their useful life.

This isn’t good for the environment because it means new products will need to be created from natural materials, like crude oil and metal ores, which need more energy compared to using recycled materials.

My recycling bin is completely full. Can I take my rubbish somewhere else once I've got rid of the contaminated items?

If you cannot wait until your next collection day, you can take it to your local household waste recycling centre or check Recycle Now’s locator tool to find your nearest recycling point.

Why can't I put paper and card in my blue recycling bin anymore?

Unfortunately you've been contaminating your recycling. Putting everything in a blue bin has never been our official advice as we need to collect these types of waste separately.

Which bin should I put paper and card in?

Your red bin or box only - you can put it in your paper insert if you still have one. But it must not be mixed with plastics, tins and glass in your blue bin.

The bins and waste workers dump all recycling in the same side of the rubbish truck. Why should I bother to separate it?

Our recycling trucks are 'split body', which means that recycling is separated into two different sides.

Our crews are trained to separate your blue and red recycling, and Canenco takes any issues with staff not getting things right very seriously; with disciplinary procedures followed if they need to be.

Is my recycling not being collected because of the bin strikes last year?

No. Crews have been specifically told to not accept contaminated recycling from January 2024, and this work to improve our recycling rates was planned before the strike last year.

Doesn't all waste just end up in landfill or get shipped abroad anyway?

No. The amount of our waste that goes to landfill is very low, with 1% in 2019/20 and 4% in 2020/21. The rest is either recycled, composted or used to generate energy.

91% of our waste also stayed in the UK from 2019 to 2021.

Someone has put something in my bin without me knowing and my bin was rejected. What should I do?

We know that this sometimes happens which is why we always recommend putting your bins out as close to your collection as possible.

If your bin is repeatedly contaminated by others, please get in touch with us or your ward councillor so we can find a solution.

Are you making us sort our recycling to save money on separating it yourself?

No. We are not involved in processing waste. We simply collect and deliver it to Kent County Council’s recycling facility.

Trucks are inspected for their contamination percentages and those over the threshold will be rejected and fined.

We are trying to save money on the charges we could get for collecting contaminated recycling, as well as making sure tax payers’ money is spent on other vital services rather than these avoidable fines.

Will crews be looking through my bins to check for contamination?

No. Crews will be lifting the lid on each recycling bin to look for signs of contamination, but they will not be searching through your rubbish.

Please don't hide items in the bin as it will undo the hard work put into recycling by your neighbours when it is rejected.