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Recycling like a pro


University can be a daunting experience, especially in today's climate (no pun intended!) .

Not only are you meeting new people, beginning a new course, but actually adulting… Figuring out how to work the laundry, cooking (or making instant noodles) and taking the bins out!  It doesn't help that the bins in Leeds are probably completely different to what you're used to at home.

The more we can reduce our waste, the better. But to help make your transition into uni life that bit smoother, here's a quick 'Recycling in Leeds 101' to ensure you are doing your bit for the environment.

Bins, Bins, Bins…  

If you’re living in University accommodation or a purpose built block of flats, they’ll probably have their own waste and recycling collections and they should be clearly sign-posted to help you know what goes where. You can always ask your landlord or the staff in your building.  

If you’re living in private housing in Leeds though the key thing to remember is ‘green is good'! 

Across Leeds, your green bin is for recycling and black bin is for non-recyclable waste. Some people call the black bin the ‘normal’ bin, but personally we like to call it the landfill bin – language is powerful and it’s a little reminder that we can make a difference by recycling whatever we can. 

What can you put in your green bin? 

Just because something can be recycled doesn’t mean that it can go in your green bin! And because each local area across the country has different recycling facilities, what can go in your recycling bin might be very different to what you’re used to at home, whether you’ve moved to Leeds from down the road or across the world. 

In Leeds your green bin can take:

  • clean and dry paper and cardboard
  • cartons and Tetra Paks
  • foil including clean food containers and takeaway trays
  • metal cans
  • plastic bottles, tubs and pots
  • stretchy plastic bags and packaging
  • aerosols
  • bubble wrap
  • other plastic items that have markings to say they're type 1, 2, 4 or 5
  • aluminium

Check out Leeds City Council’s web pages to find out exactly what you can and can't put in your green bin. The ‘Leeds Recycles’ page on Facebook is really valuable to follow too!   

Recycling as many items as you can helps reduce waste and protect your environment. But dirty materials can’t be recycled so it's important that you quickly rinse things like bottles or tins, and unfortunately your greasy pizza box will have to go in the black bin.  

Even if your black bin is full, don’t be tempted to stick your non-recyclable waste in the green bin – this can lead to entire loads being contaminated meaning none of it can be recycled - and nobody wants that! 

Hang on...what about glass and food waste?

There are some things that are recyclable, but just can't be collected through the green bin. For example glass jars and bottles. But worry not, as there are plenty of bottle banks you can use instead. Store it up somewhere easy to grab so that you can drop it in the bottle bank on your way out.

Lots of other things can be recycled too, including clothing, electrical items, small furniture and even tins of paint! You can find more information on this on the Leeds City Council website.  Don't forget to check if it can be repaired or reused first though, for example by coming along to a local Repair Cafe or donating it to a charity shop.

We're often asked about composting, but unfortunately there is no centralised food waste collection in most of Leeds. The best thing you can do is plan your shopping in a way that reduces your food waste instead. This not only saves you money but also reduces your climate impact – which makes sense when you think that the biggest climate impact of food is in its production and distribution.  

Plan meals ahead and use up leftovers for lunch the next day (there’s a student kitchen in LUU where you can heat it up). You can also try buying loose produce or shopping in refill stores like the Green Action Coop in LUU, so that you can select just what you need with no waste. 

In, out, in, out...

"Whose turn is it to take the bins out!?" -  An age old argument amongst students, but vital for a clean environment! There’s nothing worse than missing your bin collection day and having nowhere to put your rubbish. 

You can only put your bins out for your collection day – either first thing in the morning or the evening before. All your waste and recycling has to be inside the bins otherwise it won’t be collected. You can check your bin days using the Leeds Bins app available on Google Play and the App Store. 

Don’t leave it there though! It’s your responsibility to take your bins back off the street after they’ve been collected. Not only does this mean the street is clear for people who need access but it’s also a legal requirement in the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) that’s in place across much of north west Leeds!

No bin, no worries! If you don’t have a full set of bins, speak to your landlord so they can request a replacement from the council. But do look after your bins too – there’s usually a charge to have them replaced. 

You're all set!

It’s as easy as that… Hopefully you feel more accustomed to recycling in Leeds!  Why not bookmark this page to come back to when you need it?

For more information on Sustainability at the University of Leeds, see our other blogs or follow us on Instagram.



We use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to guide our activity. Our work on student citizenship and waste is linked to the following SDGs:

  • Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities
  • Goal 12 Responsible consumption and production

Find out more about our impact on the SDGs.

United Nation Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities United Nation Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production