Changes to what you can put in your brown bin

From 7 December 2021 the items you can put in your brown bin for recycling are changing.

As well as glass bottles and jars, food tins, drinks cans, foil trays and plastic bottles, you'll now also be able to recycle:

  • plastic pots - eg yoghurt pots
  • plastic tubs - eg ice cream tubs, margarine tubs
  • plastic trays - eg fruit punnets, meat trays

You can find a full list of what goes in your bin here.

With an increased use of plastic packaging and our ongoing commitment to reducing general waste, driving down climate emissions and improving recycling rates, this will allow us to take a positive step towards a more sustainable Barnsley. At the moment plastic pots, tubs and trays make up over 2% of waste in grey bins, and over 4.5% of the material collected in the brown bins is already made up of these. The change means we'll be able to divert even more waste for recycling.

Frequently asked questions

What can I put in my recycling bins?

From 7 December 2021 you'll be able to use your brown bin to recycle:

  • Plastic pots, tubs and trays
  • Plastic bottles
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Food tins, drinks cans and foil trays

The blue bin will continue to be for recycling:

  • Card and cardboard
  • Paper

You can find a full list of what goes in your bin here.

Which plastics/polymer types can I recycle?

The new brown bin recycling service will be used for food tins, drinks cans, foil trays, glass bottles and jars, and plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays.

You don't need to check the ‘plastic number’ or polymer type of items.

Any household plastic food packaging that is a bottle, pot (eg yoghurt pot), tub (eg ice cream tub) or tray (eg fruit punnets and meat trays) can be included regardless of prior use (eg bleach bottles), except black plastic.

Why can’t I recycle black plastic?

The material recycling facility that we send our recycling to doesn't accept black plastic for recycling at this time as it's very difficult for their equipment to detect and separate reliably.

Should I remove lids and plastic films on my plastic pots, tubs and trays?

Yes - please remove any plastic films from your plastic pots, tubs and trays (such as yoghurt pot lids, plastic wrap on fruit trays, plastic lids on meat trays, etc) as these are not suitable for recycling and should be put in your grey bin.  

Do I need to squash plastic items?

Although you don't need to squash your recycling if you don’t want to, squashing larger items like plastic bottles will help you to fit more recycling in your brown bin. You can put caps back on your bottles once squashed to keep them that way if it helps.

If you’re struggling for space in your brown bin each month you might want to consider ordering an additional brown recycling bin (delivery charge applies). Find out how to order a bin.

Should I leave the lids on my bottles or take them off?

We'll accept plastic bottles with the lids off or squashed and with the lid on - whichever works best for you.

Do I need to rinse or wash my recycling?

All recyclable containers such as bottles, cans, plastic pots and plastic tubs should be emptied of all food/drink and rinsed before being put in your brown bin. This will help to keep the quality of your recycling high and reduce the risk of bad smells, flies and maggots.

Once you've finished with your washing up water swirl your recycling around in it to remove any food debris before recycling.

Why should I spend money washing recycling?

You don't need to wash your recyclable containers until they're spotless, but rinsing them to remove food debris will help to keep the quality of your recycling high, reduce bad smells, flies and maggots.

Rather than running a bowl of washing up water to clean your recycling, just rinse it out with the water once you've finished washing up.

Can I put tetra paks in my blue or brown recycling bin?

No - tetra paks are made up of plastic, card and foil layered together. The materials can’t be separated easily and recycled.

Do I have to pay to have my brown bin emptied?

No. All of your household bins (brown, blue, green and grey) will continue to be collected without additional charges.

What if my recycling won’t all fit in my bin?

If you have more recycling than will fit in your brown bin after you've squashed any large cans and plastic bottles, there are several options:

  • Replace your smaller brown bin (if you have one) with a large brown bin (delivery charge applies). Find out how to order a bin.
  • Order an additional brown bin (delivery charge applies). Find out how to order a bin.
  • Place any extra plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays, tins, cans and foil trays in a clear bag by the side of your brown bin on your collection day. Our crew will then refill your bin with this and empty it again. Please note:
    • any extra recycling placed in bags must fit into the bin to be emptied again.
    • any glass must be inside the brown bin on first emptying as we can't handle bags with glass in for safety reasons. Bags with glass in will not be collected.
  • Take it to your local household waste recycling centre.

Can I have a bigger/extra brown bin?

If you regularly have more brown bin recycling than will fit in your bin you can swap your smaller brown bin (if you have one) with a large bin, or order an additional brown bin (delivery charge applies). Households that recycle regularly can have up to three brown bins.

Find out how to order a bin.

Who's made the decision to change what goes in the brown bin?

The decision to collect plastic pots, tubs and trays for recycling has been made by the council's Cabinet following a recommendation by the Recycling Task and Finish Group. 

How will I find out about the changes to the brown bin service?

The changes to the brown bin service are being publicised in a number of ways:

  • A sticker will be placed on the lid of brown recycling bins on collection in December/January.
  • Press releases and adverts in the Barnsley Chronicle.
  • Radio adverts on Greatest Hits.
  • Bus advertising.
  • On our website and through our key partners.

Why has my neighbour got their bin sticker first?

We're distributing the bin stickers following brown bin collections throughout December and January, in line with our existing collection rounds which in some cases break part way along roads or through areas.

We have 114,000 stickers to apply to bins and can only do this when brown bins are presented for collection. In the case of bad weather or where we're not able to complete all the stickering on the collection days we'll be applying these to bins over the coming months.

You don't need to wait to get your sticker to start recycling plastic pots, tubs and trays. All households in Barnsley can recycle these from 7 December 2021.

How often are bins collected/will my collection day be the same?

Brown bins will continue to be collected once every four weeks as before. We're not making changes to collection days as part of the service change.

Is recycling my plastic the best thing I can do?

Although it's very important that we all use the recycling services offered at the kerbside and through the household waste recycling centre as much as we can, the best action we can take is to reduce our waste in the first place. Some simple ways you could reduce your plastic waste are:

  • using a refillable bottle instead of buying single serve drinks (you can often also save money by buying larger bottles and decanting the amount you want into a refillable bottle too).
  • buying large pots of yoghurt and decanting just what you need into a bowl or small container.
  • buying fruit and vegetables loose wherever possible (our markets have a great range of places you can buy loose produce).
  • if you buy meat from a butcher or fish from a fishmonger, take your own reusable boxes for them to put your produce in.
  • try swapping to solid shampoo and conditioner bars to reduce your plastic bottles.

Is it really better for the climate/does it really reduce my carbon footprint?

Any clean, quality plastic that can be separated for recycling instead of being put in the grey bin helps to reduce our carbon footprint from our waste. By making this change to our brown bin service we expect to make a greenhouse gas saving of around 4 tonnes (CO2 eq) per year.

Why don’t we have a co-mingled recycling service (like Doncaster)?

Although co-mingled recycling services show some of the highest rates of recycling in the UK, they also show high rates of contamination which compromises the quality of the recycling collected at the kerbside.  By keeping the paper and card separate from the other recyclable material we can maintain the highest possible quality of recycling.