There are rules around what can and can't be recycled in the UK, but can you be fined if you don't put the right items in the correct bin?

From general and garden waste bins to recycling and food bins, it can sometimes be hard to keep track of what goes where.

But households must be careful when it comes to what goes in their recycling bins or risk facing a fine from their local council.

Can I be fined for not recycling?

The short answer is yes, you can be fined for not recycling.

When do you need planning permission?

Local councils can issue households with a fixed penalty notice if they "continue to place recyclable items into their black bins and bags", according to Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council.

"This means the resident must pay a fixed penalty of £100 or appear in court," the South Wales council added.

Home expert Bert Hofhuis from Every Investor added it can also work the other way around - you can be fined for placing non-recyclable items in recycling bins.

Fines will vary depending on your local council, but typically range from £60 to £200.

The UK Government said fixed penalty notices should be issued by local councils as a last resort and only in extreme circumstances. 

The UK Government says local councils should only issue fixed penalty notices for not recycling as a last resort.The UK Government says local councils should only issue fixed penalty notices for not recycling as a last resort. (Image: Getty Images)

The Government, on its website, said: "The Government wishes to encourage a measured and balanced approach, where householders are not penalised for minor breaches of waste bin rules.

"The use of these penalties should focus on those who cause genuine harm to the local environment.

"It is good practice to try and inform the household about any issues on the presentation of their waste bins.

"For example, you could use a letter or information notice. You should do this before moving to the process of issuing penalty notices outlined here."

There are several other bin related fines households need to watch out for, according to Mr Hofhuis.

These include overfilling your bins (up to £150 fine) and leaving your bins out on non-collection days (often around £80 to £100 fine).

You can also be fined for the improper disposal of special items like electronics, batteries, and large appliances (fines varying from £50 to over £200).


Items that go in the recycle bin

Items that should go in your recycle bin, according to Bath & North East Somerset Council, include:

  • Food
  • Paper
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Cans, tins and aerosols
  • Plastic packaging
  • Foil
  • Clothes, shoes and accessories
  • Small electrical appliances
  • Cardboard, brown paper and cardboard drinks cartons

The list of recyclable items will remain mainly the same between councils across the UK, but may vary slightly in some instances.