In day four of our Sportlight on waste series, we asked the councillor in charge of recycling to explain why getting it right matters so much to Glasgow.

Anna Richardson, Glasgow City Council, City Convener for Sustainability & Carbon Reduction.

“When we put material like cans or cardboard into our blue bins we are doing our bit for the environment, but it is really only the start of the recycling journey.

The lorries that unload tonnes of waste every day at our Blochairn recycling plant are a vital cog in the system, but they are still only part of the picture that sees recyclable material despatched all around the country.

Like all local authorities, Glasgow has an obligation to collect items we frequently throw away such as paper, plastic bottles or left-over food and make sure it goes to be recycled. To be as sustainable as possible, we must operate in an increasingly complex and dynamic market place for recyclable material, like all councils.

READ MORE:Spotlight on waste: Glasgow's bulk uplift charges have changed the game

Glasgow Times:

Some of the material we collect remains highly prized. Aluminium from drinks cans or the tin-coated steel used to contain soup and beans always commands a good price from processing plants looking for metal. The surge in home deliveries means that cardboard is doing well and the demand for plastic bottles shows no sign of easing.

In general, though, disposing of waste costs the taxpayer money. This year the total cost of disposing of the city’s household waste is expected to reach £43m – far and away the biggest single element in the council’s cleansing budget. General waste collected in green bins costs most to get rid of, either into landfill or to create energy from waste, which in Glasgow at least means enough electricity to power 26,000 homes from a more sustainable source.

In the main the private companies that process what we collect for recycling will charge us a fee for the privilege. But as those companies can find a further use for the material we send them, there is always a saving to made to the council compared to the cost of processing general waste.

READ MORE: Spotlight on recycling: Journey of a Glasgow blue bin

Not only is recycling good for the environment, it’s good for the council’s finances. Recycling extends the life of the materials that we consume, giving them a further use that helps to reduce the carbon footprint of the waste we produce. But recycling effectively and efficiently also means we can bring down our huge bill for processing waste and free up resources for other services that matter to our citizens.

It’s no secret that in Glasgow we’ve found recycling a real challenge but we are always striving to improve our collection services. Soon-to-be published figures should show an increase in city’s recycling rate. But when you consider that on average 60% of the contents of our general waste could be recycled, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion we are throwing money away every time we go to the green bin.

So making the most of our recycling matters and directing as much high quality material as we can to the correct destination is essential. As a resident, putting the right stuff in the right bin is the first step to ensuring these journeys aren’t a waste.”


Your guide to what goes in the different bins and what doesn’t.


The blue bin is picked up every two weeks in Glasgow and is for the materials that can be recycled by the council.

You can put paper, card, plastic bottles, empty aerosol cans and food and drink cans in the blue bin.

It takes newspapers, magazines, journals, junk mail, brochures, catalogues, phone directories and envelopes. Cardboard boxes and card packaging should go in the blue bin.

Also, plastic bottles, including milk bottles, drinks bottles, sauce bottles, shampoo bottles and cleaning product bottles.

Food and drink cans including steel cans, aluminium cans and food tins.

There are a number of items that shouldn’t go in the blue bin.

It can damage the quality of the recyclable materials and means it then cant be recycled.

What you shouldn’t put in the blue bin.

Any food waste, glass bottles, yoghurt pots, Tetra paks and Elopak cartons and cardboard drinks containers.Plastic bags, margarine or butter tubs cartons, foil and books


The brown bin, for those who have one is picked up every two weeks and sent for composting. It is for garden and food waste.

You can put in food waste, leftovers and peelings, flowers, plants, branches, grass clippings, hedge trimmings and leaves.

What you can’t put in the brown bin otherwise it affects the quality.

General waste, bin liners and plastic bags, except compostable food caddy liners. soil, litter stones, rubble and any animal waste.


The purple bin, for those who have one, is for glass and is picked up every eight weeks.

For others there is public on street glass recycling points throughout the city.

Into the purple bin you can put, wine bottles, beer bottles, jam jars, coffee jars, sauce bottles.

The lids and tops can be left on bottles and jars.

There is some glassware that you might think is ok but you can’t put in the purple bin.

Light bulbs, drinking glasses, plates and cups and Pyrex glass should not go in the purple bin.


The Green bin is for items that can’t go into a blue, purple, brown bin or grey food caddy but you can’t put than hazardous, bulky or electrical items or batteries.