Do you put your recycling through the dishwasher?

Car parts, encyclopaedias, and scrupulously shining tins: Britain’s weird recycling habits revealed

People up and down the country have eccentric habits when it comes to putting out their recycling, it appears.

A nationwide waste management company has been collecting stories of the weirdest things that have been left out in recycling bins by the British public.

Even though complete sets of encyclopaedias, surgical implements and – in one case – an engine block from a Ford Escort have been left out for the bin men, it proves that the UK is enthusiastic about recycling, says the Business Waste company.

“We hear all sorts of weird and wonderful stories from waste operators,” says spokesperson Mark Hall, “And it would be a shame not to share them.”

It’s not just households, either, says. “When companies, shops and businesses get into the recycling spirit, you’d be amazed what they throw out.”

• One of the most common things that domestic waste operators say they find are household recycling bins full of bottles and tins that have clearly been through the dishwasher.

“It’s more common than you think,” says Mark Hall, “And we believe it’s down to basic pride. Heaven forbid that the neighbours see you putting out dirty rubbish.”

Business Waste says that tins and bottles are melted down, so they don’t need washing out at all. However, if you’re worried about vermin getting among your recycling, a quick rinse is more than adequate.

But it’s the ever-growing list of strange things left in recycling bins by both households and businesses that raises eyebrows at HQ in Leeds. Among the most bizarre are:

1. A complete set of encyclopaedias (“We suppose they prefer Wikipedia these days”)
2. A collection of surgical appliances in somebody’s household waste
3. Engine block from a 1997 Ford Escort (“Too big. We told them to take it to the tip”)
4. A full-sized skeleton (“We were assured it was plastic held together with metal”)
5. One thousand commemorative Royal Baby tankards from a company where “Kate” was spelled “Kait”
6. A decorative cremation urn (“Empty and unused. They buried their loved one instead, we’re told”)
7. A signed photo of Jeremy Clarkson
8. A batch of General Election leaflets where [unnamed party] got the election date wrong
9. A framed printed copy of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (“At least we hope it was a copy. We’d be feeling a bit stupid if it wasn’t”)
10. A commercial bin full of company merchandise after the business changed its name (“We’ve never seen so many promotional mouse mats in the same place”)

The most important thing to remember despite all the recycling craziness is that Britain is still recycling, and thinking hard about what should be put out to be collected Business Waste says.

“Government figures say that we’re still only recycling about 45% of our waste, so we have to appreciate the half of the country that is making the effort,” ‘s Mark Hall says.

“We appreciate them, even when they fill out world with weirdness.”

free bins icon.

Have your waste collected

Get a fast FREE quote for your waste collection 0800 211 83 90

  • Free quote within 1 hr
  • Any type of waste
  • FREE bins and delivery
  • We cover all of the UK