Your essential recycling guide Household recycling

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This article, Your essential recycling guide, was last updated on 31 March 2009 and is now out of date and held in our online archive for reference. Explore our latest Home & garden articles.

A pile of clothes

Reuse old clothes rather than sending them to landfill

Recycling aerosols

When it comes to recycling, the ‘usual suspects’ like glass, paper, card and cans have been embraced by the public at large, but items that are perhaps less obvious for recycling such as aerosols can be forgotten. More than 75% of councils already recycle empty aerosols from households via kerbside collection schemes or recycling banks – but when used in the bathroom or bedroom rather than the kitchen, aerosols can have a tougher journey to the kerbside collection bin.

You can check whether your council collects aerosols from households using the Recycle Now website. If kerbside collection is not available, you can use one of the 2,000 aerosol recycling banks in the UK. 

Aerosol recycling tips

  • Ensure aerosols are completely empty before recycling. Aerosols can be stored for a long time so hold on to a half empty can if possible.
  • Do not pierce, crush or flatten the aerosol before recycling. Also, detach any loose or easily removable parts, such as the lid, and dispose of them with the rest of your rubbish.

Recycling clothes

Fabrics and textiles aren't recyclable through kerbside collection schemes, but there’s lots you can do to avoid sending this type of household waste to landfill:

  • Take good quality clothes and fabric to your local recycling bank.
  • Cut up used or worn fabric and clothes to use as dusters or cleaning cloths.
  • Donate good quality clothes to charity shops or jumble sales.
  • Sell higher-value or good-quality clothes and shoes through auction websites.

Recycling CDs, DVDs and video games

Your local recycling centre or kerbside scheme won't accept compact discs for recycling, but there are other organisations that'll recycle them for you, such as

Film and music CDs and DVDs bought on the high street can also be donated to charity shops or sold using an online auction site.

Some high-street stores, such as CEX, also buy second hand entertainment goods or let you trade their second-hand value for new products. Most high street video-game stores also offer trade-in schemes.

A collection of glasses

Recycle old spectacles by donating them to charity

Recycling spectacles

Donate your unwanted glasses for reuse in the developing world.

  • Vision Aid Overseas collects clean, good-condition glasses through many opticians throughout the UK.
  • The Second Sight Project accepts glasses through Kodak Lens Vision Centres or by post, and asks you to include a £1 coin with donations. If there’s no donation centre near you, donations can be made by post.

Printer cartridges recycling

Many organisations recycle used printer cartridges.

  • Check the packaging if you're buying a new cartridge – some manufacturers have their own recycling schemes and provide envelopes for you to send your old cartridges back in.
  • Cartridge World refills empty cartridges at a lower price than the cost of a new cartridge.
  • Some charities collect used ink cartridges for recycling. ActionAid and Against Breast Cancer accept cartridges through post and collection systems. K2 Supplies remanufactures printer cartridges with proceeds supporting Macmillan Cancer Support.

Recycling batteries

According to the European Battery directive, 45% of all batteries sold will have to be collected rather than thrown away by 2016, and at least half of the collected batteries will have to be recycled. 

WRAP (the Waste and Resources Action Programme) has been trialling several battery recycling schemes across the UK – visit the WRAP website to find out if there's one near you. 

To find out whether your local authority collects batteries for recycling, check the Recycle Now website. If not, contact your local authority to see whether there's a battery collection point at your local household waste recycling centre – some centres provide this service.