Preparing your household recycling

Details of what you can recycle at home and how to prepare it before it goes in your bin.


In West Sussex mixed dry recycling and general waste are collected at the kerbside.

Kerbside recycling is taken to the Ford Materials Recycling Facility (MRF). Household waste is transported to the Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facility in Warnham, near Horsham.

You can recycle other items by taking them to your local recycling centre yourself.

All items for recycling should be:

  • clean - free from food and drink leftovers
  • dry - keep your recycling bin lid shut
  • loose - no plastic bags.

What can be recycled

Below is a breakdown of which items can and can't be recycled, and the reasons why. 

  • Yes please:

    • Fruit juice cartons
    • Long life milk cartons
    • Soup and smoothie cartons
    • Other cardboard cartons

    No thanks:

    • Crisp packets
    • Cat food pouches
    • Soup pouches

    Cartons are made from paperboard and have a plastic/wax like coating, and often a foil lining. They are sorted, baled up with the mixed paper and card and taken to a paper mill for reprocessing into new paper and card products.

    Remove the plastic top from the cartons as they cannot be recycled. The plastic spouts on cartons are hard to remove so these can be left on.

  • Yes please:

    • Aluminium foil
    • Aluminium foil containers

    No thanks:

    • Crisp packets
    • Biscuit or chocolate bar wrappers
    • Cat food pouches
    • Soup pouches
    • Dirty foil
    • Foil wrapping paper

    Items such as cat food pouches, biscuit or chocolate bar wrappers and crisp packets have a layer of plastic on them and are not true aluminium foil, so can't be recycled. True aluminium foil won't spring back if you scrunch it up in your hand, so can be recycled, as long as it is clean.

  • Yes please:

    • Coffee jars
    • Wine and beer bottles
    • Jam jars
    • Sauce bottles and jars
    • Perfume bottles (and tops if glass or metal)

    No thanks:

    • Mirror or window glass
    • Pyrex
    • Drinking glasses
    • Milk bottles
    • Ceramics and crockery
    • Glass vases
    • Paperweights
    • Spectacles
    • Candle jars

    Items such as drink glasses and Pyrex dishes have different chemical properties to regular glass. They melt at higher temperatures, so cannot be recycled with glass bottles and jars.

    Metal lids from wine bottles and jam jars should be removed and placed loose in your recycling bin.

  • Yes please:

    • Milk and drink bottles
    • Bathroom bottles, including roll-on deodorants 
    • Laundry and detergent bottles and tubs
    • Washing-up liquid bottles
    • Yoghurt, cream and soup pots
    • Ice cream and margarine tubs
    • Cosmetic pots and tubs
    • Food and ready meal trays
    • Fruit and vegetable punnets
    • Plastic container lids (about the size of a coffee jar lid or larger)

    No thanks:

    • Bioplastics 
    • Plastic film
    • Bubblewrap
    • Plastic bags and sacks
    • Polystyrene
    • Plastic toys
    • Plant pots and seed trays
    • Plastic furniture
    • Coat hangers
    • Coffee pods
    • Plastic bottle tops (anything smaller than the size of a jam jar lid)

    Plastic is recycled and made into new products, such as fleeces, pillows or new plastic bottles. We can recycle any colour of plastic bottles and containers in West Sussex, but they should be clean, dry and loose.

    If you cannot remove the top, empty the bottle as much as possible and place it in the recycling bin. 

    Small bottle tops can't be recycled as they are too small to be sorted mechanically, but some local groups and charities collect them.

    Bioplastics (plastics made from plant or other biological material instead of petroleum) aren't recognised by our specialised sorting machinery, and should be placed in your rubbish bin.

  • Yes please:

    • Food packaging sleeves
    • Pringles tubes
    • Egg boxes
    • Cereal boxes
    • Paper cups
    • Newspapers and magazines
    • Paperback books
    • Envelopes and junk mail
    • Office paper
    • Greeting cards and wrapping paper (non-metallic)
    • Telephone directories and Yellow Pages
    • Catalogues

    No thanks:

    • Shredded paper
    • Metallic wrapping paper
    • Paper towels

    Shredded paper cannot be recycled using your home bin. If it gets mixed with other materials, such as glass, it is difficult to remove during the sorting process and can ruin the quality of the glass. However, it can be accepted for recycling in the paper and cardboard container at your local recycling centre, or composted at home.

    It is not necessary to remove windows from envelopes, or staples from paper, although tape should be removed from cardboard and wrapping paper.

    Padded envelopes, such as Jiffy Bags, cannot be recycled due to the plastic lining inside, and should be put in your rubbish bin. Cards with a large amount of glitter, ribbons, bows or other adornments should also be placed in your rubbish bin. 

  • Yes please:

    • Food and drink cans
    • Pet food cans
    • Biscuit and sweet tins
    • Empty aerosol cans - deodorant sprays, hairspray cans and so on
    • Metal bottle tops and lids

    No thanks:

    • Paint, chemical or engine oil tins
    • Saucepans and utensils
    • Electrical items
    • Garden tools
    • Gas canisters
    • Batteries

    It is important that cans don’t have any leftover food or liquid in them. This could spill out onto other recycling, preventing it from being recycled. In some cases it could even spread to all the other items in the recycling lorry.

Recycling and rubbish bin collections

Household waste disposal is the responsibility of the County Council, but household waste collection is managed on a district-by-district basis.

This means the operators collecting your waste, bin sizes and frequency of rounds are all different.

Each district and borough council has dedicated web pages with information on waste and recycling in their area, including bin services, how to report missed rounds and signing up for green waste collections.

If you have any enquiries about the collection of your recycling, rubbish or garden waste bins contact your local district or borough council.

Cleaning and drying items

  • All items placed in your recycling bin should be clean; a quick rinse will usually do. Items that have left over food or drink in them can ruin the quality of other items in your recycling bin. This can then in turn spoil the recycling in the recycling lorries and at the materials recycling facility (MRF). Items that are covered with leftover food and drink cannot be recycled.

  • All items placed in your recycling bin should be dry, and cans and bottles should not contain any liquid. Liquid will make any paper or cardboard in your recycling bin wet and it won't be able to be recycled. During the sorting process, wet paper and cardboard can also stick to the machinery, clogging it up, and to glass, meaning it can't be recycled.

  • No. Please do not put your recycling in plastic bags before putting it in your recycling bin as it cannot then be sorted by the MRF. Please place your recycling in your bin, clean, dry and loose.

Recycling facts and figures

Did you know?

 The energy saved by recycling one plastic drink bottle will power a computer for 25 minutes. 

 Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator.

 Plastic carrier bags can be returned to some supermarkets for recycling.

 Recyclable materials should be placed in your recycling bin loose, not in plastic bags.

 It takes 25 two-litre plastic bottles to make an adult fleece jacket.

Videos to help you recycle at home

In the bathroom

2 mins

On takeaway night

1 mins

In the kitchen

2 mins