Recycling decoded

Posted on 12th October 2018 by Angela Kopyto

Every time I get into a conversation with someone about recycling, the opinions on what can be recycled and what can’t, differ hugely! I think it’s really hard to know these days what goes in what bin and when people start to get confused about it, the answer tends to be – i’ll just stick it in landfill. This defeats the whole purpose of recycling! I have done a bit of research to try and clear up some recycling myths and hope this helps any confusing coloured bin issues.

Plastic Bags – Firstly, why are you still using plastic bags? Ok, we all slip up and forget so you are forgiven. However, when you have those pesky bags in the house, they unfortunately do not go in the green bin. The best thing to do is save them up and take them to a recycling point that does accept them. I use the bin at the front door of Sainsbury’s in Kirkcaldy. A few of the big supermarkets have these so keep a look out.

Please keep in mind that the wrapping around carrots, potatoes, bread etc. is the same material as plastic bags and is not recyclable in the green bin. Stick to loose veg where possible. The more popular that loose fruit and veg becomes, the less packaging we will see on the shelves. Remember, every time you spend a pound you are influencing decisions made high up the food chain.

Polystyrene – Another one to avoid at all costs, but if you can’t, this unfortunately has to go in the blue landfill bin. This used to be accepted in green bins, but rules have changed recently.

Food and drinks cartons/tetra paks – These used to be accepted in the grey bin in paper recycling, but now Fife Council would like you to put them in the green bin with plastics and cans.

Aerosols – These can be put in your green bin. You don’t need to do anything with them, just put them in as you bought them. Usually the cap is not recyclable but Fife council only request that you don’t crush or pierce the can.

Animal bedding/waste – no animal waste or used bedding from hutches etc. should be put into the brown bin. This contaminates the council’s composting process. This all needs to go into regular landfill.

Plastic (Green)

Yes to…..Ice cream tubs, yogurt pots, biscuit tubs, aerosols, food trays etc.

No to…..Cling film, polystyrene, plastic bags, bioplastics (these are compostable but Fife Council do not accept in their composting scheme), bubble wrap.

Paper (Grey)

Yes to….wrapping paper without plastic coating (Fife Council also say no need to remove sellotape!), magazines, phone books, envelopes.  No to….photos, wallpaper, envelopes with padding.

Landfill (Blue)Yes to….anything that can’t go in the other bins!

Food and Garden Waste (brown)

Yes to…fruit and veg leftovers/peelings, garden and grass cuttings.

No to….Ash from fires, any kinds of fats or oils. These are not welcome anywhere except landfill. DO NOT put down the sink. This causes major problems for the waterworks. The fats should be left to solidify and put in a container that you are already planning to dispose of, then placed in landfill. Also no to any waste from your hoover.


The Fife Council website has a useful list of items and where/if you can recycle them.

Another fantastic website is Recycle For Scotland which tells you how things are recycled and alternative solutions.

The absolute best thing we could do is reduce the amount of plastic consumed. The only way that big companies will get the message, is if people stop buying packaged produce where there is an alternative to it. Much of the plastic we use is not recyclable in this country eg. margarine/butter tubs and yogurt pots. These often have to be shipped abroad to places like China which produces a much bigger carbon footprint. So get involved with all the fun alternatives out there and you’ll notice a massive change in your green bin space!

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