Recycling and rubbish FAQs


This page aims to answer some on the most common questions we are asked about your recycling and rubbish. Before contacting the Council with your question you might like to check the list below to see if the answer is there.

Frequently asked questions

Where should I put my bins for collection?

Your bins should be placed at the edge of your curtilage by 7am on your day of collection. This means that your bin must be within an arms reach of the edge of your property to enable our crews to collect it.

If you are unable to move your bin to the edge of your curtilage or you live in a property where it is not possible to do so, please contact us on 01508 533830.

What can I put in my green recycling bin?

For a list of what can be put in your green recycling bin, please see 'what can I recycle in my green bin?'

Our advice is to ignore any recycling symbols you see on your packaging and follow the advice given to you by your council about whether it can be accepted for recycling. 

What can I put in my grey/black rubbish bin?

Most waste that cannot be re-used or recycled in your house can be put in the rubbish bin, however there are some items that we cannot collect in your waste bins.

We advise that waste from your kitchen such as meat bones or fish should be wrapped carefully in a separate bag before being put in the bin.

You can compost your vegetable peelings and garden waste at home, and composters are available to Norfolk residents at a reduced price.

Garden waste and DIY waste is not collected in either of your bins.

Some items of waste such as paint strippers, garden fertilizers, oils and paints are hazardous to the environment and need to be disposed of separately to the rest of your waste in a special way. To find out how to request a collection see Hazardous waste collections.

How can I get rid of items that are too big to fit in my bins?

Large items, such as furniture, can be taken away. A charge is made for this bulky collection service. If your items are still in working order or of reasonable quality you might like to think about donating them to charity for re-use. Some charities will collect items if they are in good condition. You could also post your items on Freegle [external link].

For more information please see our page on re-using your waste. If you are getting a new suite or washing machine etc delivered, then remember to ask the supplier if they can take your old one away at the same time.

Are there micro-chips in my wheeled bin?

Every wheeled bin in South Norfolk has a micro-chip in it, but we are no longer recording any data about your bin collections.

How to I get rid of my old fridge or freezer?

Fridges and freezers have to be disposed of very carefully as they contain cooling gases, which if released can be harmful to the environment. We can collect any domestic fridge or freezer from the edge of your property for a small fee within three working days - see fridge & freezer collections.

Fridges and freezers can also be taken to your local household waste site. If you are getting a new fridge delivered ask the supplier if they can take your old one away at the same time.

I've had a new bathroom/kitchen/carpet fitted. How do I get rid of the old one?

Waste created by fitting a new bathroom or kitchen is classed as DIY or builders waste and cannot be collected through the normal waste collections. We advise that before getting a builder to install your new kitchen or bathroom you find out if they are able to take your old one away. This is the best option as disposing of builders waste can be expensive.

Another way of disposing of this kind of waste is by hiring a skip. Look through the Yellow Pages [external link]Norfolk County Council [external link] also allow the disposal of a restricted amount of DIY waste at all their recycling centres, or unlimited amounts for a subsidised charge at main recycling centres.

How can I dispose of dressings, needles or incontinence pads?

Anyone who uses large amount of dressings or pads can contact the council for more information about clinical waste collections

The safe disposal of needles (or sharps) is extremely important. Under no circumstances should needles be placed in your waste bins. This includes items like insulin injecting pens, syringes, finger prick lancets used to check glucose levels, and adrenalin treatments for severe allergies.

Special boxes need to be used to dispose of needles and safely returned to your GP surgery. These boxes, called sharps bins, sharps disposal boxes, or sharps containers, from your GP as part of your prescription.

GP surgeries in the NHS Norfolk area run a free collection service for sharps boxes from medical users, so you just need to take the sharps box in to the surgery and they will dispose of the contents. For more information on how to safely dispose of your medical sharps, please call the NHS Norfolk Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 0800 587 4132.

How do I report a missed collection?

If your collection has been missed, please contact us before noon on the day following collection. Find out how to report a missed collection.

I'm finding moving my bins/bags out on collection day difficult, can I get some help?

We have an Assisted Collection Service to help elderly, disabled and infirm residents. Instead of collecting your waste from the edge of the property we will collect it from where it is stored.

I've had a yellow or red card, what do I do now?

If you have been issued with a card, our collectors have found something in your bin which should not be there, or there is another problem with your bins. For more information about what to do and why the cards are used please see red & yellow attention cards.

My bin has been stolen/damaged, how do I get a new one?

You will need to have the following information ready:

  • what colour bin has been stolen
  • the date when it was stolen
  • if it was left out overnight or during the day
  • if it was full or empty
  • check to see if the collectors left you a card to say there was a problem.

On the very odd occasion bins will sometimes fall into the back of our collection lorry.

Call the number under 'contact us' below giving as much detail as you can about how the bin became missing or damaged. We will then give you a reference number.

If your bin was damaged, we will need to find out how this happened. If the damage to the bin was not your fault we will replace it free of charge. If you damaged the bin then we may ask for a contribution to the cost of providing you with a new one.

My bins are too small can I change them to a different size?

We do not provide smaller size bins anymore, but for residents with smaller size bins, you can change them to our standard sized bins. (H 107cm, W59cm, D73cm) - see changing the size of your bins.

If you have a standard size bin and still need more bin capacity, you can request a larger bin here.

I already have the standard size bins but they aren't big enough, what can I do?

The standard size bins should provide enough space for the waste produced by an average family. If you have a large family and find it difficult to put all of your waste into the standard bins, request a larger bin here.

We can also offer you help in reducing your waste by arranging to visit you and carrying out a 'mini waste audit'.

Please note: it is your responsibility to correctly dispose of any extra waste that does not fit in your bins. Household waste can be taken to Norfolk County Council's Household Waste Recycling Centres free of charge.

I've run out of clear rubbish and recycling sacks, where can I get some more?

All properties that use the clear sacks instead of wheeled bins receive a yearly delivery of sacks free of charge. If you run out before your delivery you can buy more from us, see clear sacks for recycling and rubbish.

What happens if my bin blows into the road and causes an accident/damage?

Please contact us as soon as possible with all the details of what has happened. Please call our Customer Services Team on 01508 533830 or email

What should I do with old electrical items?

You can bring along most household electrical items including computers, televisions, music systems, vacuum cleaners, small kitchen appliances, hairdryers, game consoles and televisions to our WEEE events.

Many shops now offer to take away items when you buy a new one (e.g. fridge or washing machine). South Norfolk Council also offers a bulky waste collection and will collect large domestic electrical appliances as part of this service. Domestic electrical items can also be recycled at all of Norfolk County Council's Recycling Centres.

If the item is in good working order, you could consider selling it on or offering it to a new home on Freegle [external link].

We do not encourage householders placing electrical items in their rubbish bins, as it will go straight to landfill.

What should I do with expired light bulbs and fluorescent tubes?

Energy efficient lightbulbs and fluorescent tubes contain a small amount of mercury and should not be placed in your rubbish or recycling bin. They can be recycled separately and safely, along with ordinary filament bulbs, at all of Norfolk County Council's Recycling centres. Find your nearest Norfolk County Council Recycling Centre here [external link].

How can I keep my bin clean?

The Council does not operate a bin cleaning service, but you can clean it by rinsing it out with a brush and some water and disinfectant. To help you keep your bin clean, you could:

  • minimise your food waste – only cook what you are going to eat
  • not leave food lying around in your home as flies could lay their eggs before you put the food in the bin
  • use dustbin bags that do not have any holes in them
  • keep the lid of your bin closed
  • double wrap food waste such as meat, offal, skin and bones
  • double wrap disposable nappies, or try using real (reuseable) nappies – see Norfolk County Council website [external link]
  • compost kitchen waste such as vegetable and fruit peelings
  • rinse out any food packaging such as food trays or yoghurt pots in the washing up water before you put them into your bin
  • keep your bin out of direct sunlight.

External links

British Glass website
The fun place to learn about glass recycling.

Community Recycling Network
The Community Recycling Network is the national umbrella organisation for community-based, not-for-profit and co-operative waste management groups which work in reduction, re-use and recycling.

Emmaus Homeless Charity
Emmaus homeless charity have a reuse furniture business with shops selling second hand items. Their contact number is: 01986 895444.

Global Action Plan UK
Practical help for households wanting to reduce waste and their environmental impact.

Mail Preference Service
Fed up with junk mail? You can get your name and address removed from up to 95% of direct mailing lists by subscribing free. Also see the Fax Preference Service and Telephone Preference Service linked from the Mailing Preference Service site.

Norfolk based charity that collects specific business waste and sells it for art and craft purposes.

Norfolk County Council's Waste and Recycling pages
Provides advice, guidance and assistance to residents and businesses on waste minimisation, reuse and recycling in order to reduce the impact of waste on the environment.

Norfolk Freegle
This is a network for people wanting to let go of items (or who may be looking for something in particular) to pass on to other people. Anyone can join the group and the only constraint is that all items posted must be free.

Norfolk Homemakers Furniture Project (no website available)
Unwanted furniture and other household items reconditioned and used for vulnerable in local community.
5a Beckham Place, Norwich NR3 3DZ
Tel: 01603 633340 12.00 - 4.30pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Fridays. Saturday 12-3pm.

Plastic bag recycling
24 hour drop off point for plastic bag recycling. They can accept bags including: bin bags, cling film, mailing wrappers and bubblewrap. See website for more details.

Recycle for Norfolk
Norfolk County Council and the county's seven district councils work together, as the Norfolk Waste Partnership (NWP) to reduce the amount of rubbish going to landfill.

The RecycleNow campaign is designed to encourage everyone to recycle more things more often. Recycling is easy and your efforts can make a real difference.

South Norfolk Freegle
This is a network for people wanting to let go of items (or who may be looking for something in particular) to pass on to other people. Anyone can join the group and the only constraint is that all items posted must be free.

South Norfolk Freecycle
This is the dedicated South Norfolk network for people wanting to let go of items (or who may be looking for something in particular) to pass on to other people. Anyone can join the group and the only constraint is that all items posted must be free.

The Greenhouse
The Greenhouse Trust provides environmental education and promotes and demonstrates ways in which we can all reduce our impact on the global environment.

Waste Watch Wasteline
Help line run by Waste Watch, an organisation promoting action on waste reduction and recycling, will advise on these issues as well as recycled products and labelling.

Which? advice
The 'Which?' guide to recycling household waste and electricals. Advice on how to dispose of difficult to recycle items and tips on making the most of recycling services.

Women's Environmental Network
Includes ideas and campaigns for waste reduction.

WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme)
WRAP's aim is to accelerate resource efficiency by creating efficient markets for recycled materials and products, while removing barriers to waste minimisation, re-use and recycling.

About links to other websites.

Contact us

contact officer/team: Support Team
web: online enquiry form
freephone: 0808 168 3333
telephone: 01508 533830
minicom/textphone: 01508 533622
address: South Norfolk Council
South Norfolk House
Cygnet Court
Long Stratton
Norwich NR15 2XE

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Last updated on: 19 December 2014