Recycling rubbish and reuse

FAQs about our new environment services contract

85% of the waste produced by an average Camden resident is recyclable so we’re changing things to increase recycling and reduce costs. We will do everything we can to support residents and help make the changes work for you.

Frequently asked questions (click the buttons to below to reveal questions)

1. The new contract

2. Weekly recycling collection

3. Fortnightly collections

4. New garden waste service

5. Ward maps of future collections

1.1 Why do we need to change the Environment Services contract?

Since our last Environment Services contract, technology has improved and new innovations have developed, such as on-board technology, which allows drivers to record collections in real time and cameras to help resolve missed collection complaints. 

This time we have taken a completely new approach, which is focused on the outcomes we want, including increased recycling rates, less fly-tipping and less contamination of recycling bins, rather than a prescriptive list of tasks such as cleaning a particular street every Tuesday.

This waste contract will be in place for eight years, with the potential for an eight-year extension. We need to ensure Camden has a modern, innovative and recycling-led waste management solution.

In 2015, residents took part in the Camden Waste Challenge, a public engagement programme that set out the Council’s future waste, recycling and cleansing challenges and sought public views on how we meet these challenges. This included how we could achieve a 40% household recycling rate by 2020. 

1.2 What is different about the new contract?

Our new contract is far more responsive to the needs of the borough and its residents. It has been developed to take into account the specific challenges of Camden’s mix of housing.

Vehicles’ on-board devices  log real time service issues – providing customers with up-to-date service information including missed collections, collection progress and recycling contamination issues.

For street cleaning, the new contract informs the contractor of the service standards that must be met and gives the contractor greater flexibility to deliver the service.  If these standards are not met, then there will be a payment deduction. The contract also encourages innovation and the use of technology to boost service quality and delivery.

The new contract supports the Council’s commitment to improving air quality, with the contractor using alternative fuel vehicles including compressed natural gas, electric and hybrid vehicles.  As well as being London Living Wage compliant, the new contract is committed to providing new apprenticeships, local employment opportunities, volunteering and training.

1.3 What are the main outcomes for the new contract?

The council has four main outcomes for the new contract, which the design of the new service is based upon. They are:

  • Managing Camden’s local environmental quality to an agreed standard
  • Minimising rubbish and maximising participation in reuse and recycling
  • Generating additional surplus from business recycling and waste services
  • Increasing local employment opportunities and local economic development. 

1.4 Will the new contract mean changes to household rubbish collections?

Yes. Streets with enough street-level houses with room to store a wheelie bin will move to fortnightly collections. Recycling and food waste will continue to be collected weekly.

An independent survey has been carried out to determine how many street level households in the borough have sufficient space to store rubbish in wheelie bins.

Households without space to store a wheelie bin will be provided with orange Camden branded rubbish bags, which will be collected fortnightly or weekly depending on the location.

The new contract will also introduce an optional, paid-for weekly garden waste collection. See section 3 for more details.

1.5 Why are we changing the way we collect our rubbish?

  • We want to increase the amount of waste we recycle and make recycling as easy as possible. Around 85% of an average bin in Camden can be recycled but currently we only recycle 25% and our target is to reach 40% by 2020.
  • By changing the way we collect recycling and rubbish and using new technology, we can work with residents and businesses to save more than £5 million a year whilst making sure we keep Camden clean and tidy.
  • Fortnightly rubbish collections encourage more recycling and reduce the number of trucks on our roads, reducing traffic congestion and helping to improve air quality.
  • Wheel bins stop foxes and rats ripping open rubbish bags and prevent rubbish being blown away, helping to reduce litter on our streets.

1.6 Will any changes made be set in stone for the duration of the contract?

Not necessarily. This contract is more innovative and flexible than previous contracts, meaning we will be able to see what is working and what isn’t, and therefore tweak the system where necessary. The service will be reviewed annually for the life of the contract.

1.7 When are we making changes to the Environmental Services contract?

Changes to the recycling and rubbish collection services outlined above and in section 2 and 3, will happen from the start of the new contract on 1 April 2017.

1.8 I live in a large block of flats or an estate with a large shared bin. What changes for me?

Most changes will impact residents in houses or with a kerbside collection. Your recycling and rubbish will continue to be collected as usual, but there may be changes to collection days. Please check our website  for more information

1.9 What is the full list of services included in the new contract?

Rubbish collection services
Household rubbish collection
Household bulky rubbish collection
Household clinical rubbish collection
Business rubbish collection

Recycling services
Household dry recycling collection
Household food waste collection
Household garden waste collection
On-street dry recycling collection
Christmas tree recycling collection
Business dry recycling collection
Business food waste collection
White goods collection
Furniture reuse

Cleansing services
Street cleansing
Estates cleansing
Parks and open spaces cleansing
Litter, dog and cigarette bin emptying
Leaf fall collection
Dead animals clearance
Special events cleansing
Street markets cleansing
Removal of fly-tipped and abandoned materials
Weed control and removal

Winter service
Gritting and snow clearance
Manual snow and ice clearance
Salt/grit bin management
Salt supply and storage
Salt loading

The following services, currently provided either in-house or outsourced to another service provider, will be included in the new contract:

Business recycling and rubbish (sales and marketing)
Graffiti, drug paraphernalia and flyposting removal
Customer services
Container management 

2.1 What can I put in my recycling containers?

The following items can be placed loose inside your green recycling container:

  • Paper – newspaper, telephone directories, envelopes and office paper
  • Plastic – pots, tubs, trays and bottles
  • Metal – tins, cans, foil and aerosols
  • Cardboard – plain, corrugated and cereal boxes
  • Cartons – food and drink cartons
  • Glass – bottles and jars
  • Plastic bags

We want to collect as much recycling as possible, so we will collect additional recycling, but please place this inside your recycling bin where you can. Please see our recycling page for further details.

Your bin will not be collected if it contains any contamination (items which cannot be recycled) which includes any of the items listed below for the general rubbish bin and any DIY, food or garden waste.

2.2 What can I put in my general rubbish bin?

Anything which cannot be recycled, including:

  • Clingfilm
  • Cellophane
  • Sanitary products
  • Pet rubbish (dog poos and cat litter)
  • Crisp packets
  • Polystyrene
  • Nappies

Your bin will not be collected if it contains DIY rubbish – rubble, plasterboard, etc.

All rubbish that cannot be recycled must be placed inside the black wheelie bin with the lid kept shut. If households recycle their food waste and other materials there is very little that should be left to put in your rubbish. 

2.3 What can I put in my food waste bin?

The following items can be placed inside your food waste bin:

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Meat and fish
  • Tea bags and coffee grounds
  • Bread and pastries
  • Dairy products
  • Rice, pasta and beans
  • Eggs and eggshells
  • Cooked and leftover food and small bones

Your food waste bin will not be collected if it contains any plastic bags, recyclables or general rubbish items listed above which should go in your respective containers.

Please use suitable caddy compostable liners (En13432) to line your food caddy. Plastic bags do not compost so please don’t use them – we won’t be able to collect your food waste recycling if you do. If you live on an estate you can order food waste liners on our website

2.4 What can I put in my garden waste bin?

The following items can be placed inside your garden waste bin:

  • Grass cuttings
  • Weeds
  • Dead flowers
  • Garden prunings
  • Leaves and bark
Your garden waste bin will not be collected if it contains any soil/rubble, large tree cuttings, food waste, plant pots, recyclables or general rubbish items listed above which should go in your respective containers.

2.5 How do residents sign up for the other collections, textiles, small electrical items and household batteries?

Residents can call or go online to request a collection of textiles, small electrical items and household batteries. We will then send bags according to the items requested and these can put these out on your collection day next to your other recycling - there is no need to notify us.

3.1 Why have fortnightly collections been introduced?

Fortnightly rubbish collections are now provided by 76% of local authorities in the UK, including highly urban areas. They are one of a number of proposed solutions that will deliver what the Council needs from this service, within the budget available.

Incentivising recycling is part of this strategy, and evidence from across the UK shows that we can encourage residents to recycle more by redesigning the way we collect recycling and rubbish. Camden Recycling Rewards provides benefits for you and your communities for your efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle. The more you do, the more money you can win for local charities and community projects and the more chance you’ll have of winning vouchers for yourself. Find out more

A study of rubbish in Camden in 2014 found that around 85% of the contents of an average Camden rubbish bin is recyclable. This includes a high proportion of organic (food) rubbish which is collected weekly from households across the borough. Non-recyclable material makes up the minority of an average Camden bin so could require less frequent collections if residents make full use of the weekly recycling and food waste collections.

3.2 Who receives fortnightly rubbish collections?

We have introduced fortnightly rubbish collections to around a third of Camden’s residents.

To find out when your rubbish is collected, use this online address checker

We have provided further information to affected households via leaflets delivered to properties in January and again in March with the delivery of new rubbish containers (bins or bags), in advance of the service changes which started on 1 April 2017. 

Any new service changes have also been promoted using different communication channels, including the Camden Council website, the Camden magazine, housing newsletters, social media and the local press.

3.3 Will you collect extra general rubbish?

In line with our main contract outcomes, we want to minimise rubbish and maximise reuse and recycling. Therefore we are restricting the amount of rubbish we collect in order to encourage more recycling. If you make full use of your recycling and food waste bin, you should have enough room to store your general rubbish over two weeks. 

We will only collect rubbish placed out for collection in a bin or bag provided by Camden Council. Any extra rubbish can be placed in your bin for your next collection once the bin has been emptied or you can take it to our local recycling sites at Regis Road or Hornsey Street. 

3.4 Has anything changed with where my recycling and rubbish is collected?

Yes. You will need to place wheelie bins, boxes and bags for all your recycling, food waste and rubbish collections within one metre of the front entrance to the property boundary, by 7am on your scheduled collection day.  If you have no space at the front of your property, place containers on the pavement but do not block the pathway.  All containers will be returned to where you placed them for collection.  Please remember to take your containers back to your property within 24 hours. This will improve the efficiency of recycling and rubbish collections. If you have difficulty moving your containers you may be eligible for assisted collections. Please contact us if you require this service.

3.5 Will I receive a new rubbish bin?

All properties with enough space to house a 240 litre capacity wheelie bin within the boundary of their property have been contacted regarding the delivery of black rubbish bins and the new collection service.

Wheelie bin size

Wheelie bin size Height Width Depth
*240 litres 108cm 58cm 73cm
*140 Litres 106cm 49cm 55cm
(*estimated dimensions)

3.6 What if I have a weekly collection and would like a wheelie bin?

We have provided 140 litre wheelie bins for residents who have a weekly rubbish collection and enough space to store it within their property boundary. A leaflet was sent in January detailing how to use the new collection service.

3.7 What if I do not want a new bin?

Wheelie bins are practical and you can move them from one point to another easily due to the back wheels, making it easier to put your wheelie bin out for collection. Another advantage in having a 240 litre wheelie bin is related to its capacity and the ability to store rubbish over a longer period of time. They also help to improve the cleanliness of streets by keeping the pavements clear of any rubbish bags, preventing wildlife from ripping them open and creating a mess. 

Residents who have opted out of this service choosing instead to use 60 litre (same capacity as a standard black bag) Camden branded rubbish bags, (in a weekly or fortnightly bag collection service, depending on your street) have been provided with a roll of orange Camden branded rubbish bags. This allows you to use two bags weekly or four bags every two weeks, depending on your location, which is equivalent to the amount of rubbish which can be contained over two weeks in a wheelie bin. 

These bags will be delivered to your door every six months. If you require more bags before your next delivery, you will need to call us on 020 7974 2202.

If you think you may have problems putting out your rubbish and recycling containers, you can contact us and apply for an assisted collection to help. 

3.8 What arrangements have been made for disposing of existing dustbins (i.e. non-Camden branded wheelie bins that residents use at present) when the new system is brought in?

We will collect and recycle any old unwanted bins after 1st April. Please call us after this date and we will collect it.

3.9 What if I want a rubbish bin but my neighbour who lives in the same building does not?

Each property within a multi-occupancy building that has been allocated a new rubbish bin received a leaflet in January, which gave an option to opt out of receiving a new bin and instead receive orange Camden branded rubbish bags. 

It is up to the residents within the block to come to an agreement on the number of bins that are needed for the building. It is possible to share rubbish bins if this helps but please bear in mind that extra storage will be needed for those moving to fortnightly rubbish collections.  

3.10 What if I run out of room in my bin?

We will continue to collect recycling and food waste every week and around 85% of the household rubbish produced in Camden can be recycled. To see if you could be recycling more of your rubbish, please see section 4. If you would like some help on how to manage your rubbish, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you and can arrange for a member of our team to visit you at a convenient time. 

If you have a larger than average household and think you will need a bigger bin, please contact us to arrange a visit from our team.

We will collect extra recycling placed neatly next to your recycling containers in either clear bags, so the crews can see that it’s recycling and not rubbish, or in a cardboard box. Please do not place additional recycling in black bags because it will not be collected. We also offer a special recycling collection service for one off items like textiles, small electricals and batteries.  

3.11 Nappies and incontinence waste

For families who believe that they will not be able to manage their rubbish effectively due to having children who wear nappies or for residents who use incontinence pads, please get in contact for a member of the team to help you. A free weekly nappy and adult hygiene products collection service will be available to households with children who wear nappies and residents who use incontinence pads.

Nappy bag orders will be delivered within five working days of request. The nappy bags are pink and are only to be used for nappy waste. If they are used for other waste they will be uncollected along with a visit from Veolia’s Education Team. Residents can also use their own nappy bins and Veolia will collect the nappy bags from a nappy bin that is presented for collection.

3.12 Will fortnightly collections make my bin smell?

It’s the food in your rubbish that causes smells. The food waste bin is collected weekly, so by recycling it in your food waste bin you can keep your rubbish smell-free. Your food waste bin is lockable too, which keeps foxes and other animals out. 

3.13 Will my bins still be collected on the same day?

There will be some changes to collection schedules. Click here for details

3.14 Why is a property the same as mine on another street receiving a different service?

We made the decision on the frequency of rubbish collections by looking at all properties on a street rather than individual properties. This can mean that some properties with the same amount of storage space or lay out, may receive different collections due to the properties surrounding it having different storage space.  

3.15 Are there health and safety risk associated with fortnightly rubbish collections?

Fortnightly rubbish collections are now provided by 76% of local authorities in the UK, including highly urban areas. In the House of Commons Library information note (4 February 2013), ‘Bin collection - Alternate weekly collection’ concerns about the possible health risks of fortnightly rubbish collections, alongside food waste collections, are shown to be unfounded.

The provision of lockable food waste containers and wheelie bins (with lids) for rubbish, and the banning of separate bagged rubbish (extra rubbish) will help maintain a clean environment by reducing the risk of attracting vermin such as foxes and rats which often rip open black bags on the pavement.

3.16 Do you provide assisted collections?

If you have difficulty moving your containers you may be eligible for assisted collections. Please contact us if you require this service.

4.2 What is different about the new garden waste service?

Garden waste will now be collected weekly on a Saturday as part of a new paid-for garden waste service. Residents can now sign up for garden. Please see below for more details on how to use this service. 

4.3 Why will people be charged to have garden waste collected?

We are faced with a tough financial challenge. As our funding from central government continues to decrease we have to find new ways of doing things.

In the past the garden waste service was offered to all properties free of charge but only around 20% of Camden’s properties have a garden. The new charge has been introduced to cover the cost of delivering the service.

Garden waste collections are not a statutory service (not a service the council has to provide) but Camden looked at the options available:

  • Don’t provide the service
  • Provide the service at a cost to the council
  • Introduce a charge to cover the cost of delivering the service

Due to the savings requirement on the service the preferred option was to offer the service at a cost to those using it so it cost neutral to the council.

Garden waste collection is an opt-in service, with residents charged £60 for a 9-month service or £75 for a 12-month service. Residents can make their own private arrangements to share the garden waste service with neighbours.

We want to encourage residents with gardens to compost their green rubbish, and the Council offers subsidised composters for £5 plus delivery to help people get started – visit Composting is the most energy-efficient way of dealing with garden waste, as it does not need to be transported by carbon-emitting vehicles. Residents can also take garden waste (free of charge) to local recycling sites at Regis Road or Hornsey Street. 

4.4 What will be the cost of the new garden waste service?

There are two payment choices to sign up to a weekly garden waste collection service over the year; either £60 for a 9 month service (March to November) or £75 for a 12-month service (concessionary rates apply). To sign up to the new service visit the Garden Waste Collection site.

4.5 Why does it cost £75 for the year or £60 for nine months?

This is an optional service open to those residents with gardens who want to dispose of garden waste on a weekly basis.  There are a fairly low proportion of households with gardens in Camden (around 20%) and so the service costs need to be covered by the subscriptions. In other boroughs there may be a higher proportion of households with gardens, which will help to reduce the cost per household of the service. 

4.6 How will you monitor and help to make sure that those who pay for the garden waste collection service will not be the victim of fly-tipping when they place their garden waste out for collection?

The contract management system is linked to the collection vehicles via on-board computers that will capture, manage and monitor garden waste collections.  Camden currently collects recycling from Camden branded containers. We also encourage residents to report any sightings of fly-tipping or locations of dumped rubbish to assist our enforcement team.

4.7 Can residents still use their green waste sacks instead of a wheelie bin?

Residents can either opt for a 240 litre brown bin or 3 hessian sacks. We will encourage the use of existing containers and will mark any existing sack and all containers with either a 9 month or full year validation tag.

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