How To Know What You Can (& Can’t) Put In Your General Waste, Recycling & Compost Or Organic Waste Bins

Confused about what you can put in the different bins at your home?

This is a short guide to explain what waste each one might be for.

NOTE: industrial and commercial waste collection and bins will have different requirements to residential – this is a residential guide only.


How To Know What You Can Put In Your General Waste, Recycling & Compost Or Organic Waste Bins

Every municipality and residential area is different with the kerbside collection, waste collection, and waste bins they offer, and exactly what waste can be put in those bins

For example, some places offer general waste and recycling bins only as part of regular waste pickup/collection, while others also provide a compost or organic waste (green) bin in addition to these two.

Search the municipality online [‘your suburb or area + recycling or waste collection’] to get an idea of what waste each bin can and can’t take. You could also search ‘what can I recycle in [insert city or suburb]’, or ‘city of [insert city name] recycling’.

With Phoenix, Arizona for example, you find these resources that tell you what you can and can’t recycle –,

Ring your local council if you have specific questions to ask.

Here’s two examples:


San Francisco, US

As of 2019, SF has a blue recycle bin, a green composting bin, and a black landfill/general waste bin.

  • In the recycling bin, you can put some types of paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, glass, cartons and fabric
  • In the composting bin, you can put some types of food scraps, food containers, yard trimmings, wood, organic material, and compostable containers.
  • In the general waste bin, you can put some types of polystyrene foam, pet poop and kitty litter, incandescent light bulbs, toothpaste tubes, menstrual and sanitary items, diapers, mixed materials, disposable razors and ice packs, disposable gloves, shiny food wrappers, and broken glass and pottery
  • It’s recommended to specially dispose of (by contacting a listed of specialist waste organisation) the following waste (and not put them in any of the other bins provided) – hazardous waste, household products, bulky items, medicine, batteries, electronics, and items like clothes that can be donated and re-used.

Read more about the specific items you can put in each bin at


City Of Melbourne, Australia

As of 2019, the City Of Melbourne offers a general waste, and a recycling bin. Compost bins are not offered as standard waste collection, but organic waste pickup can be organised.

  • In the general waste bin, you can put general rubbish, nappies (wrapped), meat and bones, food scraps (see also Home composting), broken ceramics and crockery, broken glass from drinking glasses, Pyrex, mirrors or windows, light globes, and non recyclable plastic. You can’t put the following waste in the general waste bin – hot liquid or ashes, oil, chemicals, paints and solvents, corrosive and flammable items, syringes, car parts, soil, timber, bricks or other building materials, unwrapped vacuum dust, and hard plastic containers and other recyclable products.
  • In the recycling bin, you can put paper and cardboard, aluminium and steel cans, empty aerosol cans, all hard plastic containers including yoghurt, ice cream and take-away containers, glass bottles and jars, milk and juice cartons, pizza boxes, aluminium foil and trays, rigid household plastic items like kitchen storage containers and plastic toys, steel pots and pans (no glass lids), CD cases, and ink cartridges. You can’t put the following waste in the recycling bin – plastic bags, soft plastics, CDs, DVDs and VCR tapes, expanded polystyrene foam used in take-away coffee cups or packaging for household goods, batteries, ceramics, glass from broken glasses, windows or mirrors, waxed cardboard boxes, food scraps, chemicals, nappies, light globes, syringes and needles.
  • There is a list of contacts and drop off sites or locations for special waste like chemical waste for example.

Read more at:









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