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Recycling in rented accommodation

Recycling is compulsory in Islington. All properties in Islington have a recycling collection at least once every week and most also have a food and garden waste recycling service.

We are now expanding communal food waste recycling service to all suitable blocks and estates of 7 households and over.  We are calling on residents, landlords, managing agents and RSLs to email to request the service (if they don’t already have it).  Bins, leaflets, caddies and liners and collections will be provided free of charge. We are keen to work with you to introduce the service by 31 March 2023.

As a tenant

Your landlord must provide your property with the right recycling containers and information on what you can and cannot recycle. You can also use My Islington to request containers.

Please make sure you know your recycling and rubbish collection day and keep it properly stored and presented on the right day.

As a landlord

You must provide enough recycling containers and accurate information to your tenants on what can and cannot be recycled. We encourage responsible landlords to make sure your tenants can recycle as much as possible.

Please make sure you have:

  • included a requirement for your tenants to recycle properly in your tenancy agreements
  • provided information to your residents on the recycling and rubbish collection service, including which containers to use, their collection days, and which materials should and should not be put into each container
  • checked that your managed properties have enough appropriate recycling containers.

Landlords - avoiding contaminated recycling bins

As a landlord, you are responsible for ensuring that the correct items are recycled properly at your properties.

When non-recyclable items are put into recycling bins, we may not be able to empty the bins on the usual recycling collection round as they will contaminate other items in the collection vehicle. This may lead to whole loads being disposed of as waste which incurs additional collection and disposal charges. It is also bad for our environment.

When this happens, we will not empty the communal recycling bin unless either the non-recyclable material has been removed, or the recycling bin has been emptied. We will let you know if this is the case. We can empty the contaminated recycling bin on request for a charge.

Landlords - helping you communicate with your tenants

Here is a range of leaflets, posters and sample letter content for you to use to help you communicate effectively with your tenants about what they can and cannot recycle. 

When new tenants move in

Provide an appropriate leaflet with the tenancy agreement to each of your new tenants. This will help your tenants to understand their responsibilities and Islington’s waste and recycling service so they can do the right thing from the start. 

Remind tenants / leaseholders how to use the recycling bins appropriately 

Use these posters in communal areas for your tenants: 

When tenants (leaseholders) have contaminated recycling bins

The collection crew will put a sticker on the bin advising that the bin has been contaminated. Include the appropriate text from the list below in your communications to tenants about the issue:

If you would like advice or support on improving recycling at your properties, please contact us at

If you need to arrange to have a recycling bin containing non-recyclable items emptied, please contact us at

Read the Executive report on introducing charges for clearing recycling bins containing non-recyclable items: Contaminated waste and waste container charges.

Frequently asked questions

What is ‘contaminated recycling’?

Contamination is when non-recyclable items are put into recycling bins. We cannot empty contaminated recycling bins on the usual recycling collection round as they will contaminate the other items in the collection vehicle and may lead to whole loads being disposed of as waste. This will incur additional collection and disposal charges.

What are the materials which most frequently contaminate communal recycling bins?

  • Black rubbish sacks (whether containing rubbish or recycling)

  • Food

  • Garden waste

  • Textiles/cloths

  • Wood, polystyrene or other bulky items

  • Used nappies

How many recycling bins are contaminated each month?

On average, 125 bins are unable to be collected owing to contamination each month.

How will I know if my recycling bin has not been collected due to contamination?

The collection crew will put a sticker on the bin advising that the bin has been contaminated.

Why are we proposing to charge for the collection of contaminated recycling from communal properties?

A separate refuse crew is required to return to the sites to empty the bins; this is at additional cost to the council and also incurs increased disposal costs. Additionally, North London Waste Authority (NLWA) are reviewing their charging process for managing contaminated recycling, meaning that it will be in Islington’s interests to ensure that the costs of dealing with this are recovered by the authority.

There is a time lag between the crew reporting the contaminated bin and the second crew clearing the bin which can lead to full to overflowing bins remaining on site and potentially generating complaints.

Good quality recycling that is in the bin will be disposed of as waste due to the contaminated waste. It is anticipated that a charge will encourage managing agents and landlords to work with us to proactively engage with their residents to raise awareness of recycling and to reduce levels of contamination.
Benchmarking has identified that other local authorities are making a similar charge for the collection of communal contaminated waste.

Who will be charged?

The charge will apply for the collection and emptying of contaminated recycling bins to landlords and managing agents of all properties where communal recycling bins are provided (council housing, private and social landlords).

How much will housing providers be charged?

The charge will be £50 per container.

When will the charge come into effect?

After the proposed charge was agreed at the May 2021 Executive, the council started charging from July 2021 after formal letters were sent to known housing providers.

How will housing providers be informed of this new charge?

A letter was sent to all housing providers that we were aware of with communal properties in Islington in July 2021.

Why are street properties using the green box service not being charged?

The charge will not apply to properties using green recycling boxes or clear recycling sacks as contamination in these instances is less frequent, less impactful and does not require an additional resource to clear it. Any non-recyclable material is simply left for the householder to clear.

Can the council legally charge for the collection of contaminated recycling bins?

The council is under a duty to arrange for the separate collection of at least two types of household recyclable waste (either together or co-mingled) from households (section 45A, Environmental Protection Act 1990).

Normally the council is under a duty to collect household recycling free of charge. However, the council may, by notice, require householders to put particular refuse into recycling bins and not other general household waste. If a householder does not comply with such requirements and contaminates a recycling bin by putting in general waste then the council is not obliged to collect waste in that bin (section 46(11).

In these circumstances, the council may make a collection charge to collect waste from a contaminated waste recycling bin. The charge may be sufficient to meet the cost of collection (section 93 Local Government Act 2003).

How will my housing provider pay the charge?

When a bin is contaminated, housing providers will be proactively contacted to inform them of the contaminated bin and advised of the charge. Housing providers will be able to pay online via a payment form.

What if my housing provider refuses to pay a charge for collection of the contaminated recycling bin?

Housing providers do not have to pay for the council to remove contamination. Instead, they can arrange for the contaminants to be removed or for the bin to be emptied privately. Once we have been informed that the contamination has been removed, the usual recycling collection schedule can resume.

If the housing provider refuses to take any action to remedy the contamination, it will be dealt with as an enforcement issue due to the detrimental impact to the environment.

Will my housing provider be provided with any support to help residents use the bins correctly?

We will continue to proactively communicate with landlords, managing agents and households at locations with contaminated bins to improve the quality of recycling and reduce contamination. However, we expect landlords to take their own actions to reduce contamination. A range of resources will be made available to landlords to support them in engaging with their residents to drive down levels of contamination at the properties they manage.

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