We colour code our bins to help you remember what to put in them:

  • green: recycling    
  • brown: food and garden waste 
  • black: all other rubbish

We might not collect your bin if you put the wrong items in your bins.

Because if your bin is 'contaminated' it means we can't take it to the correct processing centre.

Find out more about what happens to your recycling after we collect it.

How to recycle in Waltham Forest

Watch our video to learn how you can recycle as much as possible.

Green: recycling bins

Please make sure items are clean and dry before you put them in the recycling bin or sack.  

Recyclable items include:

  • plastic bottles, tubs and trays, and plastic carrier bags
  • paper, card and cardboard
  • metal tins, cans, aerosols, trays, and kitchen foil
  • glass bottles and jars

Large amounts of cardboard can be broken down to fit inside the green recycling bin. If you are unable to do this, please leave the cardboard flattened beside the green recycling bin on your collection day.  

Items we collect such as:


  • bleach bottles
  • shampoo bottles
  • fruit punnets
  • meat trays
  • milk bottles


  • juice cartons
  • dishwasher tablet boxes
  • envelopes
  • kitchen wrap boxes
  • magazines
  • newspapers

Tins, cans and trays:

  • deodorant cans
  • air freshener cans
  • food tins
  • foil wrap
  • drinks cans
  • foil trays


  • pasta sauce jars
  • wine bottles
  • face cream pots
  • aftershave bottles
  • olive oil bottles

Please do not put these items into your green recycling bin or sack:

  • food - this may be placed in your food and garden waste (brown) bin or grey communal food waste bin
  • clothes, shoes and textiles, small electrical and electronic items, and batteries - please visit Helping residents to recycle more for instructions on how to recycle these items

Please do not put these items in your green bin and place in your general rubbish instead:

  • black refuse bags
  • nappies
  • paper or card that is stained or dirty with foodstuffs, grease, paint or dirt like pizza boxes
  • glitter covered greetings cards or wrapping paper
  • non paper gift wrap such as foil-based wrapping or bags which springs back when you scrunch it
  • sticky papers such as post-it notes, sticky labels and paper tape
  • wallpaper
  • hygiene/sanitary products such as wipes and sanitary towels
  • tissues and used paper towels
  • face masks and other PPE
  • wet wipes
  • cotton wool, make up pads
  • plastic wrapping and free gifts from newspapers, magazines and flyers
  • laminated plastic food/drink pouches such as baby food pouches, cat food pouches, coffee pouches
  • crisp packets and sweet wrappers
  • glass cookware like Pyrex
  • drinking glasses
  • vases
  • ceramics such as crockery or earthenware
  • mirrors

Please do not put in your green bin or sack and take these to one of our reuse and recycling centres:

  • light bulbs or fluorescent tubes
  • window glass (please put into the general waste container)
  • metal containers for chemicals (i.e. white spirits, paints, etc.) or engine oils
  • general kitchen ware e.g. cutlery, pots and pans
  • any other metal items e.g. kettles, irons, pipes, white goods
  • wood

For information on what exactly can be recycling please look at our you can recycle more than you think document.

Brown: food and garden waste 

In your brown bin, you can put:

  • food waste (without packaging)
  • organic (living) matter from your garden, for example grass cuttings, leaves and small branches

Food and garden waste we accept:

  • garden waste such as grass, leaves, flowers
  • pasta and rice
  • fruit, vegetables and all food scraps
  • bread and cakes
  • meat and fish
  • tea bags and coffee granules

Food and garden waste we do not accept:

These are examples of non-food waste. Do not put them in your food waste bin:

  • clothes, shoes and textiles
  • nappies
  • black refuse bags
  • electrical items
  • liquids
  • carrier bags, even if they say 100% biodegradable. Only compostable bags with the compostable seedling logo (above) are accepted
  • treated wood (fencing or shed materials)
  • tree trunks and branches wider than 4 inches in diameter
  • soil (small amounts of soil attached to plant roots will be collected, please shake off as much soil as possible)
  • Japanese knotweed (please see government advice on GOV.UK)

Excess garden waste that is not food can be:

  • composted at home
  • left in open bags next to your brown bin
  • taken to one of the borough's 3 recycling centres

You can leave up to 5 open bags, no bigger than 20 inches (51 cm) by 30 inches (76 cm).

Black: all other rubbish

Any leftover household general waste that can’t go in the either the green recycling bin, or the brown food and garden waste bins, goes into the black refuse bin.

We do not collect any side or excess waste presented on top or next to the refuse bin.

Only waste that fits within the wheeled bin when the lid is completely closed will be collected.  Additional waste that exceeds the size of the bin will not be collected but instead needs to be placed in the resident’s bin for the next scheduled collection.  Our ‘closed lid’ policy is in line with the Waltham Forest Recycling Strategy 2023 to 2034.

Please do not put any non-household waste into your refuse bin such as DIY waste or building waste.

Never dispose of hazardous or clinical waste in black bins. Find out how to arrange safe collection of hazardous and clinical waste.

If you have a communal black bin and you don’t have a food waste bin, you can put your food remains in here.

Home Composting

Composting at home is one way to reduce some of your food waste, create useful compost, and have fun as a family whilst reducing the amount of waste that is disposed of. Anyone can compost at home. You don’t need to be a keen gardener, have a big garden or even live in a house to make compost. Compost also reduces greenhouse gasses and puts valuable nutrients back into the soil.