Recycling and reusing

Recycling and reusing saves energy and raw materials and avoids waste going to landfill. Nearly two thirds of household rubbish can be recycled with just one recycled aluminium can saving enough energy to run a television for three hours.

Recycling in your area

All councils in Northern Ireland offer kerbside recycling and collect materials from boxes or wheelie bins outside your home. Councils also have recycling centres for household waste. Most can recycle paper, glass and plastics, and some also collect metal and organic waste. Recycling banks and bins usually show pictures of what you can put in them.

Find out more about the recycling services and facilities in your area.

Recycling household products

Many items are recyclable, including:

  • bathroom products such as rinsed shampoo and shower gel bottles
  • deodorant and shaving foam cans
  • bathroom cleaner and bleach bottles
  • toilet roll tubes and other cardboard, such as toothpaste boxes
  • moisturiser bottles 
  • washing powder and liquid containers
  • glass bottles and jars (but no cookware or pyrex)
  • kitchen cardboard, such as frozen and dry food boxes and sleeves
  • some plastic food trays and wrappings are recyclable - check the packaging 
  • plastic bottles such as milk, water and cleaning product bottles

More tips on what can be recycled and information on where you can recycle locally are available on the Recycle Now NI website.

Recycling clothes and textiles

Most charity shops resell clothing or you can take unwanted clothes to clothing banks. Some councils also take textiles in kerbside recycling collections - check with your local council.

Recycling household batteries

Batteries contain hazardous substances and some may be classed as hazardous waste, so it is important to dispose of them properly. Shops that sell large amounts of household batteries must provide a collection bin for used batteries.

You may also be able to recycle batteries through your kerbside recycling or take them to your local recycling centre. Check with your local council.

Many types of household battery can be recycled including those from:

  • mobile phones
  • laptops
  • hearing aids
  • watches
  • portable cameras
  • cordless power tools
  • torches
  • electric toothbrushes
  • razors
  • hand-held vacuum cleaners

Recycling car batteries

Car batteries are also hazardous waste and must not be thrown away with your household waste. They should be taken to a council recycling centre. Some shops that sell car batteries may also accept old batteries for recycling.

Recycling mobile phones

Many phone shops will take back old handsets for recycling. There are also organisations and charities that accept mobiles for refurbishment and recycling.

Recycling printer cartridges

Many charities and workplaces collect print cartridges for refilling.

Reducing waste, reusing and repairing

Recycling can help save materials and energy, but cutting down on waste in the first place is even better. Many items can be re-used, including mobile phones, computers, printer cartridges, leftover paint and clothes.

Even if you have finished with something, someone else will often be able to use it. National charity organisations, local charity shops, internet auction sites and free exchange schemes may be able to re-use your unwanted items.

Tips to reduce waste

Garden and food waste

Try not to waste food.

Compost your garden and food waste.

Junk mail and packaging

Register with the Mailing Preference Service to avoid junk mail being sent to your home.

Avoid products with unnecessary packaging.


Donate leftover paint to paint reuse organisations.

Electrical equipment, computers and phones

Repair or recycle electrical equipment.

Upgrade, repair, sell or recycle computers, or donate them to a charity shop that accepts electrical goods. Before you pass on your computer or recycle it, remove information that you don’t want anyone else to see. Simply deleting the information is not enough. Use the link below to find out how to do this.

Keep mobile phones for longer - ask your phone company about the available tariffs if you don’t upgrade your handset.


Repair or recycle furniture.

Power tools

Donate power tools to charities that send them to developing countries.


Take your own bag when you go shopping and where possible, choose reusable products.

Books, DVDs and CDs

Buy, sell or donate second hand books, DVDs and CDs.

Exceptions to the rule

While generally, reusing or repairing items uses less energy than making new products, there are some exceptions. Old appliances, such as boilers and fridge-freezers, use much more energy than new ones. If you need more advice you can contact Bryson Energy.

More useful links

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