Waste Aware Scotland

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A-Z Disposal Guide

The following A to Z guide was based on Too Good To Waste a guide which was researched and published by Edinburgh Recycling and Viridor Waste Management, for further information visit their website at www.leep.org.uk


Aerosol Cans

    • DO dispose of aerosol sprays in bins. Where possible use pump sprays as these are more friendly to the environment.
    • DON'T crush or put into bottle banks as they can explode on crushing.

Aluminium Drinks Cans

    You can tell whether a can is aluminium by testing it with a magnet - the magnet will not stick to an aluminium can. Most cans these days do have an "alu" sign on them if they are made of aluminium.

    • DO put aluminium cans into recycling bins.
    • Look out for a Cash for Cans centre near you, where you can sell your used aluminium cans.
    • Buy returnable drinks bottles, as it more environmentally-friendly.

Aluminium Household Items

    • DO take these to a Civic Amenity site. You can take larger items to a scrap metal merchant as they can be exchanged for money.

Ash (wood ash only)

    • DO put round the garden as it is a good soil improver.

Batteries (small domestic)

  • DO use rechargeable batteries whenever possible. Altough these are more expensive in the beginning, they are much cheaper in the long run.
    The following companies will accept back their nickel cadmium rechargeable batteries for recycling: Energiser UK, Varta Ltd, Panasonic.
  • DON'T for safety reasons, use rechargeable batteries in smoke alarms.

Batteries (button cell)

  • DO use silver oxide batteries as these can be returned to the retailer. Look out for solar powered alternatives.

Batteries (car batteries)

  • DO take to your local civic amenity site.


  • DO take to charity shops and voluntary organisations.


  • DO try to use your local library instead of buying new books. Swap books with friends and buy from charity shops.
  • DON'Tput books into paper banks as the glue used in binding interferes with the recycling process.

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  • DO save small boxes and packages for nursery and primary schools.
  • DON'T put cardboard into paper banks as the cardboard fibres can not be recycled into paper.

Cards (postcards and greeting cards)

  • DOtake old cards to nursery and primary schools. Take old Christmas cards to Boots for recycling. Try to buy recycled and unbleached cards whenever possible.
  • DON'T put cards into paper banks as the fibres cannot be recycled into paper.

Carpets and Rugs

  • DO give old usable carpets to voluntary organisations, or use as additional insulation for lofts. Phone your local council for a bulk uplift.
  • DON'T mulch with carpet where the presence of New Zealand flatworm is suspected as they breed under old damp carpet.

Carrier bags can be reused several times. Alternatively you can take your own bag to the shops to reduce your plastic waste. Once you have finished with a plastic bag you should recycle it at your local supermarket.

Cartridges (laser printer & photocopier)

  • DO recycle the components of print and photocopier cartridges as over 80% can be reused, also the cartridge shell is over 90% reusable.
  • ActionAid work with over 6 million of the world's poorest people to eradicate poverty. They offer a free Cartridge Takeback Service throughout the UK.
    They collect empty toner and pinkjet cartridges from laser and inkjet printers, fax equipment and photocopiers.
  • In fact, ActionAid even supply freepost bags for you to send your cartridges to them. To find out more, email recycling@actionaid.org.uk.

CD's, Tapes & Videos

  • DO take to charity shops.

Clothes / Textiles

  • DO recycle textiles as poor quality recycles just as well as good quality. Buy alternatives from charity shops, and look out for fleece jackets made from recycled plastic bottles.


  • Coffins can now be made from reclaimed timber

Coins & Stamps

  • DO give loose change and foreign stamps to collection boxes.

Comics can be donated to doctor's or dentist's surgeries, charity shops or libraries. Some comics are collectors items so you may even be able to sell them to a comic dealer or over the Internet.

You could also recycle them at a Paper Recycling Point.


  • DO if possible buy a reconditioned computer.

Cooking Oil

  • DO used cooking oil can be disposed of at civic amenity sites, or as an alternative can be used as a substitute for creosote.


  • DO use in the base of flower pots to retain moisture. Buy wine bottles with real cork, not plastic, so the can be composted.

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DVDs can be sold to second hand shops, donated to charity or sent for recycling. Click here to find out where you can send your DVDs for recycling.


Egg Boxes

  • DO save used egg boxes for schools and play groups. Buy eggs in cardboard packaging as they biodegrade more easily than plastic ones. Egg boxes can also be composted.
  • DON'T put egg boxes into paper banks as the fibres cannot be recycled into paper.

Egg Shells

  • DO add egg shells to compost as they contain lime and will reduce the acidity. Crushed eggshells are also a good deterrent to slugs and snails.

Electrical Appliances

  • DO offer these to charity shops. Some charity shops will accept small electrical appliances, but it is advisable to check first.


  • DO open envelopes with a knife or letter opener for reuse. The backs of envelopes can be used for shopping lists. Buy envelopes from charities. Buy recycled envelopes whenever possible.
  • DON'T put envelopes into paper banks as the gum used for sealing is detrimental to the recycling process.

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  • DO compost feathers -they are pure protein and will add valuable nitrogen to compost.

Fixtures and Fittings

  • DO sell unused fittings to an architectural salvage yard, and if you are buying new timber ensure it comes from a sustainable source.


  • DO wipe clean good pieces for reuse. Store food in washable containers or reused ice cream and margarine tubs instead of foil.
  • DON'T put foil into can banks as it interferes with the recycling process.

Food and drink containers can be reused to store other foodstuffs. Items such as yoghurt pots make excellent plant pots.

Food Waste (see also Green Waste)

  • DO compost most raw kitchen waste, although you should avoid putting meat, fish scraps and fatty foods in the compost heap/bin as they will attract vermin. Look out for plastic compost bins available from most garden centres.

Furniture (including white goods and household items)

  • DO donate your old furniture, white goods and other household equipment to organisations that accept them - some will even collect them from your doorstep. Comet, Dixons, Curry's and Scottish Power will uplift broken white goods when delivering new ones. Alternatively phone your local council for bulky uplift.
  • DON'T ever dump unwanted furniture or white goods.

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Garden Waste (see also Food Waste)

Green waste, that is waste from the garden like cuttings, can also be recycled, either at a community level, or at home. It is turned into compost, which can then be spread over soil to make your plants grow big and strong. To find out how to compost at home, please click here.

Making your own compost is an economical and environment-friendly way of disposing of organic waste and turning it into free food for your plants. Compost improves the structure of soil. Whether your soil is sticky like clay or sandy, compost will improve it.

It also lessens the amount of waste going to landfill and makes the landfill sites last longer, with less pollution! Making compost from waste means that peat from endangered bogs does not have to be dug up either. It cuts down on bonfires, whose smoke is a pollutant.

  • DO Compost all of your garden waste

Glass (see also Jars)

  • DO put old glass bottles etc. into Glass Recycling Points, although make sure you put them in the correct colour compartment (as indicated on the Recycling Point). Remember, you can put blue glass bottles and jars in the same Recycling Point as green glass.
  • Buy refill packs and returnable bottles whenever possible.
  • DON'T put light bulbs, Pyrex dishes, flat window glass and drinking glasses into Glass Recycling Points, as these require much higher temperatures for recycling.

Glass can be recycled again and again without losing its quality.

Recycling glass saves energy, lowers emissions and prevents the need for landfill.

Recycled glass can be used to make:

  • Fibre glass
  • Roads and concrete
  • Glass blocks
  • Water filtration systems
  • Abrasives
  • Arts and crafts

There are many more possible uses for recycled glass that have not yet been adopted commercially in the UK.

Dryden Aqua in Edinburgh are using recycled glass in filtration systems for swimming pools, fish farms, sewage and industrial effluent (link to glossary, link to drydenaqua.com). The Advanced Filtration Medium made from recycled glass is smoother than the sand or gravel that is traditionally used. This makes it more difficult for bacteria to stick to.

Glasses (spectacles)

  • DO return unwanted glasses to opticians and they will send them on to people who need them.

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Hair (see also Feathers)

  • For all you budding hairdressers, DO compost or dig hair directly into soil. This will provide the soil with valuable nutrients.

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Jars can be reused for storing jam and other foodstuffs. Alternatively you can use them to keep pencils, nails, etc. in.

Junk Mail

  • DO recycle junk mail in paper banks, or alternatively cut down on the amount of junk mail you receive by writing to the following address: Mailing Preference Service, FREEPOST 22, London W1E 7EZ
  • DON'T put junk mail envelopes into the paper banks as these cannot be recycled.

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Kitchen Waste (see Food Waste, Garden Waste) Click here to find out how to compost at home.

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Leaves (see also Garden Waste)

  • DO use as a mulch by mixing in a black bag with damp soil, and a few worms, and storing outdoors.

Light bulbs

  • DO replace old light bulbs with the new low energy light bulbs - they last around 5 years.
  • DON'T put used light bulbs in glass recycling banks.

Litter (including dumping and fly-tipping)

  • DO try to report any incident you see of fly-tipping to you local council.

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Magazines (see Newspapers)


  • DO recycle washed empty glass bottles at the bottle bank. Return to your chemist any bottle still containing medicine. Where possible buy generic, non-branded medicines as they generally come in less packaging.

Mobile Phones

  • DO recycle your old mobile at participating phone shops, or at any British Red Cross, Oxfam or Eurosource Ltd.
  • ActionAid, which is charity that works with some of the world's poorest people also collect mobile phones for recycling, which helps to raise money for their work on eradicating poverty. What's more they even provide freepost envelopes so that you can send your old phone to them! Click here to find out more.

Music (sheet music)

  • DO offer unwanted sheet music to a music teacher or school.

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  • DO dispose of in your household bin, and look out for reusable cotton and cloth nappies. Nappies can be washed at a nappy laundering service for no more than the cost of buying new disposable nappies.
  • DON'T flush nappies down the toilet.

Newspapers (includes magazines and paper, see also Junk Mail)

  • DO recycle all paper in paper banks, or if you have a coal fire then buy a log maker and turn your newspapers into briquettes to burn on the fire.

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Oil (engine oil)

  • DO take all your used engine oil and recycle it at your local civic amenity site.
  • DON'T ever pour oil down the drain or into any watercourse -m this causes pollution, reduces the efficiency of bacteria at sewage works and destroys wildlife. Never mix oil or waste oil with any other substances e.g. paint or solvents.

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  • DO dispose of unwanted paint, varnish, etc. Ensure lids are tightly in place and put in bin. As an alternative try natural pigment paints which are just as effective as normal paints.
  • DON'T ever pour paint down the drain.

Paper - see Newspapers and Junk Mail, or if you're feeling adventurous, creative or just plain bored, try making your own recycled paper at home.

You can reduce your paper waste by using both sides of the sheet. You can also reuse partially-used paper for rough work.

Reuse wrapping paper or buy recycled.

Pens and Pencils

  • DO buy ink pens made from cornstarch, pencils made from recycled plastic vending cups and refillable highlighter pens.


  • DO use old pillows and cushions by cutting them down and turning them into new ones.

Plastic Waste

  • DO reuse carrier bags
  • make bird feeders from old plastic drinks bottles
  • use bubble wrap to protect tender plants from the frost
  • use your consumer power and don't buy products with excessive packaging.
  • Try to buy recycled plastic - plastics are produced from oil, so buying recycled means less drilling and less harm to the environment.

Printer Ribbons

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Refrigerators (see Furniture and White Goods)

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Sanitary Products

  • DO avoid products with excess packaging. You can buy biodegradable sanitary towels and tampons made by Natracare from most health food shops. These do not contain plastics and polymers that don't break down naturally.
  • DON'T flush sanitary towels and tampons down the toilet.

Shoes (including boots and wellington boots)

  • DO repair when possible, give to charity shops or take to textile banks (pairs only, tie together).

Soap and Shampoo

  • DO use as an alternative to soap a specially designed steel bar which eradicates strong odours. Buy shampoo in refillable bottles.
  • DON'T buy shower gel or liquid soap, they run quicker than soap, cost more and use more packaging.


  • DO collect stamps and pass them on to charity shops. Funds are raised by selling them onto collectors and dealers.


  • DO use stapleless staplers instead of the staples. This will clip together upto 4 pages by cutting and folding.

Stationary (see also Stamps and Envelopes)

  • DO buy recycled stationary from shops, e.g. Geo-stationary is produced from recycled OS maps and nautical charts.

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Telephones (see also Mobile Phones)

  • DO give old phones back to BT where they recycle approximately 4.5 million telephones every year and produce new ones. Phone 0800 800 150 to order a padded jiffy bag to send back your unwanted phone (BT phones only)

Telephone Directories (see also Yellow Pages)

  • DO recycle old BT phone books in paperbanks
  • DON'T put Yellow Pages in paper banks as the yellow dye contaminates then paper.

Textiles can either be recycled at a bring scheme or a civic amenity site or, if they are in good condition, you can give them away to charity shops, along with old books, furniture, kitchenware, appliances and so on.

Timber (see Wood)

Toilet Roll Tubes (including kitchen roll tubes)

  • DO save for schools and nurseries.
  • DON'T put in paper banks as the cardboard cannot be recycled into paper.


  • DO use old tyres for children's play areas, boat fenders or plant pots.
  • DON'T ever burn tyres, it is illegal and causes toxic pollution.

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Videos (see CD's, tapes and videos)

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  • DO if you want you can now buy watches made from casein or 'milk stone' a natural by-product of cheese making.


  • DO turn off tap when brushing your teeth; have showers instead of baths.

White Goods (washing machines, refrigerators, freezers, electric cookers, microwaves etc)

  • DO give old working appliances to charity organisations that will even collect them from your door. For damaged and broken items phone the council for a bulky uplift.
  • DON'T ever dump.

Wood and Timber (see also Fixtures and Fittings)

  • DO use old timber for DIY purposes or take them to a drop off point at your local civic amenity site. When buying wood products look out for items made from reclaimed or recycled timber.
  • DON'T ever burn chipboard as the glue used can give off toxic fumes.

Wrapping paper can be reused. You can also buy recycled wrapping paper. This saves trees, water and energy as well as reducing the need for landfill.

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Yellow Pages (see also Telephone Directories)

  • Do take old yellow pages to special collection points at supermarkets during the distribution period.
  • DON'T put yellow pages into paper banks as the dye contaminates the recycling process.

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If you have any queries, please email us, or call 01786 471 333

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