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Frequently asked questions about recycling

Find out answers to the most common questions we get asked about recycling.

Why do we have to separate recycling into different bags? Why can't we have one bag for all recycling?

In order to find recycling companies to take recycling, we have to ensure that the quality of the material is good. This is why we ask residents to use a green bag for paper/card, a green bag for cans/glass and a pink bag for plastic.  

Mixing all of these materials together can increase contamination levels which means less materials are recycled. Also, separating recycling put into one bag is a very expensive process.

How do I get replacement recycling bags/food waste bin?

Recycling bags and food waste bins are available from all district housing offices, household waste recycling centres and most libraries.

See full list of places where you can get more

Green recycling bags and food waste liners have a reorder tag. Put this reorder tag out on your collection day and the crews will deliver you replacement bags.

How are the council going to enforce this new rule?

After the 25 February our recycling officers will start checking for households which don't recycle.

For the majority of cases, this would be done by checking the bags' weight, shape, and a "clink" test, rather than opening the black bags up.

Officers will record addresses with a significant amount of recyclables in their bags, knock on the door to encourage recycling and leave a letter advising that specified recyclable materials are not permitted in black bags.

The letter will include offers of help and a leaflet, but also advise that further visits will be made.

At the next collection two weeks later officers would re-check the addresses contacted the previous time and, if no improvements have been made, issue a legal notice specifying the non-permitted materials again and advising that a fixed penalty notice could be issued for non-compliance.

On the next collection day, a final warning letter would be issued if there are no improvements.

This would lead to a fixed penalty notice being issued at the next visit, if no improvements have been made.

During this process, residents who did change their behaviour would be thanked for doing so.

Is recycling compulsory for a resident? 

Yes, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 enables the council to say what materials are or are not permitted in certain containers, including black bags. When these requirements are confirmed by the issuing of a notice, not complying with the notice can lead to a fine or prosecution, however this would only be used as a last resort for those refusing to recycle.

What happens if someone dumps black bags outside my property?

If this has happened then please report it to us.

This act is classed as flytipping and the offender could face enforcement action.

Why can't Swansea have wheeled bins?

Due to the type of housing in Swansea and the topography of the land, only 30% of Swansea can have wheeled bins. So, instead of having two different collection methods, we only collect loose bags from households.

What happens to materials separated for recycling?

We do our best to find local markets for the material collected. For example, food waste goes to a company in Bridgend called Agrivert where the food waste is processed into electricity and compost. Paper is either turned into newspaper or card, glass is recycled into new glass products and aluminium is used in the steel making process. These are just some examples to show that recycling is a beneficial activity and the materials separated can be used to make new products. Steel cans can be recycled again and again, with no loss of quality.

Where does the money you make from selling the recycled materials go?

The council does not make a profit from selling recyclable materials as the cost of collection outweighs the income received for the materials. The alternative to send all of this waste to landfill would be far more expensive however. In 2017-18 the council spent £3.5 million pounds on landfill disposal tax.  

Why don't you collect soft plastics?

Plastic recycling companies will no longer accept soft plastic items including carrier bags, film and wrappers from us. This is because many soft plastic items are not easily recycled and when they mixed with rigid items like bottles, tubs and trays they are extremely difficult to separate which is necessary to recycle them. 

What should I do with my soft plastics?

Soft plastics should go in your black bags for kerbside collection. Certain 'stretchy' soft plastic items such as carrier bags and bread bags can still be recycled in the banks at large supermarkets if you are able to take them there. 

What about people who find it difficult to fully participate in the recycling service due to disability or old age? Will they still get a fine?

We understand that some residents may have trouble using the service due to personal circumstances and will make allowances for those who have a genuine reason for not fully participating in the recycling service. We will assess these on a case by case basis and take this into consideration when implementing the scheme. Any queries regarding this can be sent to

What happens if I put an item in by mistake?

The Keep It Out initiative will not be targeting residents who have put the odd recyclable item in their black bags. We will be targeting those residents making no or little effort to recycle their waste and have black bags with a large quantity of recyclable materials inside. If you are recycling all the accepted materials as best you can then we will not be contacting you and you will not be at risk of receiving a fine.

What exact can we put into the black bags? 

The majority of your household waste is recyclable and will be collected in one of the kerbside recycling bags or bins provided. There are however still many items of household waste which cannot easily be recycled and so should go in your black bag. Examples include:

  • Soft plastic including carrier bags, film and bubble wrap
  • Crisp packets, biscuit and sweet wrappers
  • Kitchen roll and tissues
  • Nappies and sanitary products
  • Wet wipes
  • Pet waste
  • Polystyrene
  • Soiled paper and card eg greasy pizza boxes
  • Wrapping paper
  • Greetings cards with foil, glitter or other non-paper additives

Disposable nappies, food and drink cartons and paper cups are also allowed in your black bag but can be recycled if taken to a recycling centre.

What about greasy card or cardboard or greetings cards?

These items are not recyclable as they are too dirty or contain too many non-paper parts. 

How do I start recycling?

Check out all the information online

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