A Guide to General Waste

General Waste Definition

Read Time: 4 mins

In a lot of cases, general waste is more easily defined by stating what it isn’t.


This is because in the modern day of multiple bins for different items, the general waste bin is often used for what isn’t green waste, rubbish that cannot be recycled and a few more examples. Hazardous and electrical items must also not be included in general waste and as such should be disposed of separately.


To help our general waste definition here are some examples of what falls in this category and why.




One of the most common items that may appear within your general waste may be food items. Whether they are expired or leftovers, they normally end up in your kitchen bin and subsequently the general waste bin.


recycle sign

Non-recyclable plastics

It can be easy to think that everything which is made of plastic can simply be thrown away into your recycling bin. Even though supermarkets and other food brands are making strides into creating more recyclable packaging, a lot is simply impossible to recycle. If you cannot find the recycling logo on your packaging, it belongs with the rest of your general waste.



Recyclable items that have become too dirty

Many items like a recyclable paper bag may become impossible to recycle if it becomes too dirty. A good example may be a paper bag which has been used to deliver fast food and has too much grease on it.



Non-recyclable metal

Like plastics, you may be led into thinking that everything made of metal can be recycled. A prime example of metal items that cannot be recycled are non-stick frying pans. An item is easy to recycle when its raw materials are accessible, because of the non-stick coating the metal underneath the pan is extremely difficult to retrieve. This is not the case with a simple cast iron or stainless-steel pan without a special coating.



Cooking oil

Although it’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t put used cooking oil down your sink, this doesn’t stop a lot of us from breaking the rules once in a while. But even this can cause a blockage over a few years and the average cost to unblock a drain will be around £100. Save yourself the risk of losing that money to an unnecessary cost by storing your used oil in an old jar under the sink and then throwing it away once it is full.


plastic bag

Carrier bags

The plastic bag charge, which came into effect in 2015 has curbed the UK’s dependency on these shopping receptacles but they are still widely available. Once used they are made up of such low-quality plastic that they cannot be recycled.




Although sweet and crisp wrappers are made up of recyclable items like plastic and metal, they are so intertwined that it makes recycling them impossible in a lot of cases.


These are just a few examples of waste and in the next section, we’ll see exactly what can and cannot be put in a general waste bin and how that may differ across the country. We’ve outlined a loose general waste definition but, there exists a government document that outlines in detail the legal definition for waste here.



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