What can I recycle in MK?

Each year MK Council handles around 90,000 tonnes of waste and recycling from residents. More and more people in MK are motivated to get it right. Research shows that over 60% of UK households are now recycling more than they were a year ago because of environmental concerns. 

But, most people are putting at least one thing they shouldn’t into their recycling. Check through our information below to ensure you are up-to-date with what goes in each container for recycling and rubbish. Alternatively see our A to Z of recycling list.

Think before you throw

Let's get recycling right. Follow our 5 rules of thumb to help you recycle correctly: 

  • Update your recycling knowledge - just because it looks recyclable, doesn’t mean we can recycle it here in Milton Keynes
  • If in doubt, leave it out - being a good recycler is as much about what you leave out of your recycling as what you put in. If you’re unsure about anything, check the listing below, ask us or put it in your black sack
  • No food or drink at all should ever go in your recycling - rinse out containers as food, dry or wet, can ruin paper for recycling
  • Make sure items are empty, clean and dry -  wet and dirty items can spoil other recycling while it is being processed 
  • Nothing else goes in your recycling - if you’re struggling with too much waste or aren’t sure how to recycle, get in touch and we can help
 

What goes in each container

In the clear recycling sack and pink communal bin

For a complete list of what we can and cannot recycle please see our A to Z listing

Paper allowed:

  • cards
  • cardboard, broken down so fits in the bag
  • catalogues
  • clean pizza boxes 
  • envelopes, including window envelopes
  • leaflets
  • newspapers
  • shredded paper
  • milk and juice cartons

Plastic allowed:

  • bottles - drinks and milk bottles. Wash, squash and lid back on
  • cleaning product bottles
  • disposable plastic cutlery
  • lids - loose plastic lids from bottles and jars
  • plastic bottles with pumps and triggers
  • plastic pots, tubs and trays, including black plastic
  • ready meal containers 

Metal allowed:

  • empty aerosol sprays cans
  • food and drink cans
  • lids - loose metal lids from bottles and jars
  • pet food tins
  • sweet and biscuit tins
  • tin foil or foil food trays

Paper not allowed:

  • laminated paper 
  • nappies (disposable or biodegradable)
  • disposable or compostable coffee cups 
  • padded envelopes
  • polystyrene 
  • PPE disposable face masks
  • tissues, kitchen roll or cotton wool
  • wet wipes or cleaning wipes 

Plastic not allowed:

  • bubble wrap
  • crisp, biscuit or sweet packets or wrappers
  • fruit nets 
  • hard plastics e.g. toys 
  • items with food or drink still inside 
  • pet food pouches 
  • plastic bags or cling film 

Metal not allowed:

  • coffee capsules/pods 
  • metal pans or tools 

Other items not allowed:

  • clothes, fabric or rags 
  • broken glass or china 

In the blue box

The blue box is for recycling glass bottles and glass jars only. Please remove lids and place loos in the clear recycling sack.

Glass not allowed:

  • broken glass (as this can cause injuries)  
  • drinking glasses or Pyrex (this melts at a different temperature to glass bottles and jars so can’t be recycled by our plant)
  • any other glass item such as perfume bottles, light bulbs or mirror

For a complete list of what we can and cannot recycle please see our A to Z listing

In the green wheeled bin

For a complete list of what we can and cannot recycle please see our A to Z listing

All food waste allowed, including: 

  • bread, baked goods
  • coffee grounds
  • dairy products
  • fruit and vegetables including peelings
  • mouldy or out of date food
  • pet food
  • plate scrapings
  • raw or cooked meat, fish or bones
  • tea bags

Garden waste allowed:

  • dead flowers
  • grass
  • leaves
  • plants
  • small branches up to 15 cm in diameter 
  • twigs
  • weeds
  • windfall fruit

Compostable items allowed:

  • compostable cups and caddy liners that display the standard EN13432 or display the 'Seedling logo' 

Garden waste not allowed:

  • branches over 15 cm in diameter 
  • Japanese knotweed
  • plant pots
  • soil

Other items not allowed:

  • all animal waste, including dog poo, cat litter, hamster/gerbil bedding, etc.
  • items labelled 'compostable' that do not display the standard EN13432 or display the 'Seedling logo' 
  • items labelled ‘biodegradable' 
  • nappies - disposable or biodegradable

In the yellow bag

  • household batteries - AA, AAA, C, D
  • laptop batteries 
  • mobile phone batteries

Batteries not allowed:

In the black bin bag and black communal bin

Most common items, including:

  • animal waste*, including dog poo, cat litter, hamster/gerbil bedding, etc.
  • biscuit wrappers
  • broken glass or china - please wrap to avoid injury
  • bubble wrap
  • clothes – poor quality
  • crisp packets
  • disposable coffee cups
  • disposable nappies - ensure they are double bagged
  • fruit nets
  • greasy pizza box 
  • laminated paper
  • mixed materials, e.g. pill packets, padded envelopes, Pringles tubes
  • pet food pouches
  • plastic film, e.g. clingfilm
  • polystyrene
  • PPE disposable facemasks
  • sanitary products
  • sweet wrappers
  • tissues and kitchen towel
  • wet wipes and sanitising wipes

* All animal waste must be double bagged and/or sealed before it is put in your black sack with your other non-recyclable waste. If it’s on its own and not double bagged, it might not be collected by our crews.

Black bin bags are not supplied by MK Council.

Useful recycling leaflets and posters

Recycling leaflet

Recycling poster

Communal bins recycling poster

Communal bins recycling poster with food and garden waste

To request leaflets or posters to be posted out email wasteeducation@milton-keynes.gov.uk, stating how many leaflets required and the delivery address.

Frequently asked questions

Clear sack FAQs

I have run out of sacks how do I order more?

Clear sacks are free and delivered to MK residents annually in April/May. Extra free recycling sacks can be ordered online or call 01908 252570.

Do I have to clean my recycling?

Please give a quick rinse to your recycling before placing in the recycling sack. Food or drink remnants left inside cans, plastic bottles, etc may make the sack attractive to pests. Rinsing out also assists in the recycling process as all items need to be cleansed before they can be recycled. Please also squash down cardboard and plastic bottles so that you can fit more in the recycling sack.

Are the clear sacks recycled?

Yes, clear recycling sacks are made of 100% recycled plastic and are recyclable, but it is not always the case that they are recycled. If the clear sacks have been contaminated by food or dirty nappy contents, etc then the cost and energy required to clean and then recycle this cheap plastic negates the environmental impact of recycling it.

What happens to my recycling?

Clear recycling sacks are taken to Old Wolverton and sent to a Materials Recycling Facility. Here the recycling is sorted and baled ready for transportation to be made into new recycled products. 

Blue box FAQs

How do I order a new blue box?

MK residents may order a free blue box online or call Customer Services on 01908 252570.  

Do the glass bottles and jars have to be clean?

Please just rinse out glass bottles or jars to remove/reduce food or drink residue so that they do not attract wasps or vermin.

Where do I recycle the lids?

Place metal and plastic lids loose in the clear sack for recycling.

Can I recycle broken glass?

Do NOT place any broken glass in your blue box. It may potentially injure a passer-by, small child or animal when placed at the kerbside. Wrap securely in newspaper or bubble wrap so it does not pose a hazard to you or our bin crew and place in the black bin bag.

Can I recycle other items made of glass e.g. drinking glasses, perfume bottles, etc?

Do not place drinking glasses, perfume bottles, light bulbs, china, crockery, mirrors, Pyrex, etc. in the blue box. These items cannot be recycled as they melt at a lower temperature to glass from bottle and jars, which can cause problems with recycling.

Dispose of these items safely in the black bin bag by either wrapping securely in newspaper or bubble wrap so it does not pose a hazard to you or our bin crews. These items can also be taken to one of our Household Waste Recycling Centres and placed in the General Rubbish area.

What happens to the glass from my blue box?

All glass bottles and jars collected from blue boxes are sent to furnaces where it is all melted down, and re-moulded into new glass bottles and jars. When different colour glass bottles and jars are melted together it all turns green as this is the dominant colour.

Green bin FAQs

How do I order a new green bin and/or grey kitchen caddy.

MK residents may order a free green bin and/or grey kitchen caddy online or call Customer Services on 01908 252570. Homes with little outside storage space can be supplied with a 23 litre green bin.

What kind of caddy liners can I use?

You can line your caddy with paper or corn starch liners as long as they meet the standard EN13432 and the Seedling logo is visible on the bags. Alternatively use a few sheets of newspaper or plain brown paper bags. 

Do not use biodegradable plastic bags as these are not compostable.

Can I put animal waste in the green bin?

Animal waste is not permitted in the green bin, even from a vegetarian animal such as a rabbit. This is due to regulations covering animal bi-products and commercial composting. 

What happens to my food and garden waste?

Food and garden waste is sent to an In-vessel composting facility to create compost for agriculture.

Do I have to use the grey kitchen caddy?

No, the important thing is that food waste ends up in the green wheeled bin, not the black sack. The kitchen caddy is useful for collecting food waste to then transfer to the green bin outside. If you want to buy your own caddy or just use a piece of newspaper to collect vegetable peelings, etc. that’s fine.

I home compost, I don't need a green bin

If you home compost you can use your green bin for the items that you cannot compost at home, such as meat and bones.

How can I clean my wheeled bin?

To reduce the need for cleaning, it is best to wrap all food waste in newspaper and put your bin out for collection each week. See our video for top tips or use a bin cleaning service if you don’t want to do this yourself. 

I’m worried about hygiene, smells and flies

  • Always ensure the lid of your caddy and green bin are shut
  • Empty the food waste into the outside green bin daily
  • Lining the caddy with newspaper or a EN13432 compostable caddy liner will help to keep it clean, and you should wash it frequently, as you would any ordinary bin
  • Put your green wheeled bin out for collection every week that it contains waste, no matter how small the amount

Yellow bag FAQs

How do I order a yellow battery bag?

A replacement yellow bag should be left under the lid of your green wheeled bin when the full one is taken. If you require a yellow bag please email customerservices@milton-keynes.gov.uk or call 01908 252570 and we'll post one out to you.

Can I put a battery that has leaked in the yellow bag?

No, batteries that have leaked must be placed in the black bin bag as they may damage other batteries. Please place in the black bin bag.

Can I recycle car batteries?

The yellow bag is not suitable for car batteries, so please take to one of our Household Waste Recycling Centres instead.

How are batteries recycled?

All batteries collected in yellow battery bags are sent to furnaces where they are melted down, the metals and acid are extracted to be made into new recycled products, including new batteries.

What is contamination?

Wrong items placed in recycling containers are called contamination.

Unfortunately, every week we see a lot of things in the clear recycling sacks that shouldn’t be there, like dirty nappies, needles, glass bottles, food waste, medicine blister packs and old clothes. For instance, every day we find around 300 dirty nappies in clear recycling sacks.

The contamination items have to be picked out from the good recycling, mostly by hand. This is not just unpleasant, but can be dangerous too. Dealing with contamination costs MK Council hundreds of thousands of pounds each year. That’s money being wasted instead of being used to help local people.

Waste and Recycling team contact information

Milton Keynes Waste Recovery Park (appointment only), 9 Dickens Road, Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes MK12 5QF