Top tips for greener waste, composting and recycling

Learn to recycle your food waste, what to do with garden waste and what not to compost in our guide with Recycle Now

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Food Recycling

Waste food has a big impact on climate change as most of it ends up in landfill sites where it rots and releases methane into the environment. But some food waste, such as egg shells, banana skins and tea bags, is inevitable.


If you live in an area that has a local food waste recycling collection service, you can use this to dispose of anything you can’t eat or compost at home.

A food waste caddy in your kitchen can help you to separate out your food waste for recycling and composting. This can be emptied into your compost bin or council food waste bin every couple of days.

Your council may recommend that you line your food waste caddy with a liner or newspaper. Only use liners that are recommended by your council as some may not break down in the composting process.

Recycle Now have food recycling tips from people who recycle their food waste.

Garden waste

When garden waste is recycled it is transformed into nutrient-rich soil conditioner. 

Most types of garden waste can be recycled, including bark, flowers, grass and hedge cuttings, leaves, plants, small branches, twigs and weeds.

If you are unable to compost at home, you can take it to your local garden waste recycling point or put it into your garden waste collection scheme, if you have one, where it will then be taken to a central composting facility to be processed.


Composting is an inexpensive, natural process that transforms your kitchen and garden waste into a valuable and nutrient rich food for your garden. Compost will help improve soil structure, maintain moisture levels, and keep your soil’s pH balance in check while helping to suppress plant disease. 

Ideally site your compost bin in a reasonably sunny spot on bare soil – it makes it very easy for beneficial microbes and insects to gain access to the rotting material. It also allows for better aeration and drainage, both important to successful composting.

To make the best compost aim for a balance of 50% greens and 50% browns in your compost bin to get the right mix.

‘Greens’ are quick to rot and provide important nitrogen and moisture, examples include:

·         Brussels sprout stalk

·         Carrot tops

·         Citrus peel

·         Coffee grounds

·         Cut flowers

·         Fruit peelings and pulp

·         Fruit seeds

·         Grass mowings

·         Hay

·         Hedge clippings

·         House plants

·         Ivy leaves

·         Nettles

·         Poisonous plants

·         Soft prunings and plant debris

·         Tea leaves and bags

·         Vegetable peelings and pulp

‘Browns’ are slower to rot, provide carbon & fibre and allow air pockets to form, examples include:

·         Autumn leaves

·         Cardboard

·         Corn starch liners

·         Cotton towels

·         Cotton wool

·         Egg boxes

·         Egg shells

·         Natural corks

·         Nuts

·         Paper bags

·         Straw

·         Sweetcorn cobs

·         Thorny prunings

·         Tomato plants

·         Used kitchen paper

·         Vacuum cleaner contents

·         Wood ash

·         Wool

Keep this out! Certain things should never be placed in your compost bin.

·         Bones

·         Bread

·         Cans

·         Cat litter

·         Cigarette ends

·         Cling film

·         Coal ash

·         Crisp packets

·         Dairy products

·         Disposable nappies

·         Dog faeces

·         Dog food

·         Drink cartons

·         Meat and fish scraps

·         Olive oil

·         Plastic bags

·         Plastic bottles


·         Soiled tissues


Read our four-step guide to better composting