A to Z of Recycling

Top tips on how to reduce, reuse and recycle your waste

If you can't donate your items to charity or sell them online why not try one of our Give and Take days? You can take most of your household rubbish to one of our three recycling centres; Millhams Community Recycling Centre, Christchurch Household Recycling Centre (based on Wilverley Road) or Nuffield Household Waste and Recycling centre

Check below for local recycling information and ideas about how to reduce and reuse your things. 


Aerosol cans

Reduce: Instead of aerosols choose alternatives like roll-on deodorants or compressed canisters that use less gas and packaging.

Recycle: You can put all aerosols (except propane or butane) in your Big Bin recycling bin.  

Aluminium foil 

Reduce: Use a paper bag, greaseproof paper or washable containers to store food instead of aluminium foil.

Reuse: Clean and flatten foil and keep it to reuse. Aluminium foil can be stuck onto cardboard and placed between radiator panels/walls to help reduce heat loss. 

Recycle: Aluminium foil can now be recycled in your Big Bin



Reduce: Choose appliances that you can plug into the mains or ones that use renewable energy.  For example, wind up torches.  

Reuse: Use rechargeable batteries where possible - they can last up to 1000 charges.

Recycle: You can recycle household batteries by putting them in a plastic bag next to your big recycling bin. It is important batteries are not put in your recycling bin. They contain heavy metals that might leak into the soil and water supply.

You can also recycle batteries at:


Reduce: Buy good quality bedding if you can, so it will last longer. 

Reuse: Take the stuffing out of old bedding and use it to make other pillows thicker or to stuff soft toys.

Recycle: You can donate old bedding to your local pet sanctuary as bedding for the animals.

You can compost cotton and feathers in a compost bin at home. Mix the feathers with an equal amount of green materials such as grass cuttings and vegetable peelings. 


Reduce: - Repair it at the Repair Cafe. 

Reuse: Donate unwanted bikes to HOPE 2 CYCLE. They welcome cycle donations and their mobile workshop service offers checks, repairs and servicing. 


Reduce: Instead of buying new books, borrow them from your local library.

Reuse: Donate books to charity shops, you could try taking children’s books to your doctor or dentist for their waiting room.  

Exchange books online at Paper Back Swap.

Britta Water Filters

Reduce: Drink tap water instead of filtered water.

Reuse: Use refillable water cartridges with a refillable filter system, so there's no plastic cartridge to throw away.

Recycle: You can recycle Brita water filters at local shops. 



Reduce: Buy music online instead of CDs. Use reusable USB memory sticks instead of burning new CDs.

Reuse: Pass your CDs on to charity shops, hospital radio stations, schools or playgroups. Hang them in the garden to scare away birds or use them as coasters for drinks.

Recycle: Some CD recycling companies will pay your for your old CDs; sell them online or try one of our Give and Take days?  


Reduce: Choose items with less packaging.

Reuse: Large cardboard sheets are useful in the garden to stop weeds growing. Lay them down on the earth and cover with compost for the best results.

You can flatten large boxes and advertise them on Freegle to people who are moving house.

Recycle: You can recycle cardboard in your Big Bin. You can also use cardboard in your compost bin between the layers of wet green material. Make sure you tear it up first. 

Car tyres

Reduce: Buy long-life tyres so you don’t need to change them as often. To keep your tyres in good condition so they last longer, remember to check the air pressure when they have been at rest. Try to drive carefully so you don’t wear out your tyres too quickly.

Reuse: You can use old car tyres as raised beds for growing vegetables. You could make a tyre swing in your garden.

Recycle: The tyre and also the metal rim (once it has been separated from the tyre) can be recycled at one of our three Recycling Centres. Most garages will also take your unwanted tyres. 


Reduce: Hire an industrial strength steam cleaner or pay someone to clean your carpets for you before you decide to get rid of them. A deep clean might make them look a lot better and will cost less than replacing them.

Reuse: Carpet is a good insulator; you can wrap it around a compost heap to keep it warm during winter.

Recycle: If your carpet is in good condition you can sell it or donate to charity. 

Cassette tapes

Reuse: Give your old cassette tapes to charity shops, hospital radio stations, schools or playgroups. Some people still use cassette tapes for listening and recording. 

Christmas trees (real)

Reduce: Buy an artificial Christmas tree that can be used again.

Reuse: Choose a live Christmas tree in a pot rather than a cut Christmas tree. That way, the tree can be used again the next year. 

Cling film wrapping

Reduce: Use reusable containers instead of wrapping in cling film.

Recycle: Recycle old cling film in your local supermarket’s plastic bags recycling bank. 


Reduce: Instead of buying new clothes why not have swap parties with your friends? You can also repair your clothes at the Repair Cafe

Reuse: Customise unwanted clothing so it can be worn again. Take your old clothes to charity shops, jumble sales or put into charity collection bags for collection.

Recycle: Clothes can't be recycled in your Big Bin. Instead please recycle old clothes at textile banks in your Neighbourhood Recycling Centres.  


See T for Textiles 


Reduce: You can repair your computer at the Repair Cafe

Reuse: If your computer still works then you can advertise it for free on Freegle or Gumtree. If your computer is slightly broken, someone still might want it for parts or to repair and sell on.

Out of Afrika provides PCs to schools and colleges in Kenya.

Jamie’s Computer Club repairs commercial and domestic computer equipment which they use to provide training and PC experience to homeless people.

Recycle: If your computer is beyond repair, you can take it to one of our three Recycling Centres.

Before selling, recycling or donating your computer, erase your hard drive to remove all traces of personal information. 


Reuse: Donate it to charity shops or a Give or Take Day


Reuse: You could donate it to a charity shop or Give or Take Day



See E for Electrical items 


Reduce: Instead of buying DVDs rent them from your library or join an online DVD library. 

Reuse: Donate unwanted DVDs to a charity shop or Give or Take Day.

Recycle: You can recycle DVDs at one of our three Recycling Centres


Electrical items

Reduce: You can repair your old electrical items at the Repair Cafe

Reuse: If your appliance still works well you can contact Dorset Reclaim to collect. They are a local charity that collects working or repairable items to sell to families on a low income. Electrical items are also accepted by some charity shops.


  • You can recycle small electrical items measuring no bigger than 30cm x 20cm x 20cm at the kerbside, alongside your other recycling.
  • You can recycle other small electrical gadgets at neighbourhood recycling centres. They must measure no bigger than 60cm x 45cm x 20cm in size.
  • You can take white goods to one of our three Recycling Centres.
  • If you’re buying a new appliance, some stores offer a take-back scheme on your old appliance. 

Engine oil

Recycle: You can recycle engine oil at one of our three Recycling Centres. Make sure your used engine oil is sealed in a container. Don’t mix it with anything, as this makes it difficult to recycle. 



Reduce: Use a paper bag, greaseproof paper or washable containers to store food instead of aluminium foil.

Reuse: Clean and flatten foil and keep it to reuse. Aluminium foil can be stuck onto cardboard and placed between radiator panels/walls to help reduce heat loss. 

Recycle: Aluminium foil can now be recycled in your Big Bin


Reduce: Love Food, Hate Waste is a national campaign, which helps you waste less food and save money.

Reuse: The Love Food Hate Waste website contains hundreds of tasty recipes to help you reuse your leftovers.

Recycle: Food Waste can be recycled in you brown container, emptied once a week at the same time as your Little Bin.


See electrical items 


Reduce: You can repair your old furniture at the Repair Cafe

Reuse: Upholsterers often want good pieces of furniture to re-cover for their students to practice on.

If your furniture is in good condition you can contact Dorset Reclaim to collect. They are a local charity that collects working or repairable items to sell to families on a low income. Furniture is also taken by:

  • British Heart Foundation
  • Lewis-Manning Hospice

Recycle: You can take unwanted furniture to one of our three Recycling Centres for recycling. 

Foreign currency

Reuse: You can donate foreign coins, old money and medals to most charity shops. You may be able to sell items to specialist dealers. 


Gas cylinders

Reuse: Gas cylinders can be refilled. You should take empty ones back to the place you bought them.

Recycle: You can also take empty gas cylinders to one of our three Recycling Centres. Gas cylinders are chargeable as they are categorised as non-household waste. Check for disposal instructions and prices.

Garden waste

Recycle: You can recycle your garden waste by joining our Garden Waste Collection scheme.

You can also compost your garden waste at home. Discounted home composters are available from Get Composting. Prices start from £6, or you can see advice about how to home compost, including an introductory leaflet.


Reuse: Glass bottles and jars are perfect for storing food or any other small items.


Drinking glasses can’t be recycled. 

Glasses (spectacles)

Reuse - Most opticians have collection points for unwanted glasses. You can also donate them to charity. 

Greeting cards

Reduce: Send e-cards.

Reuse: Cut the fronts off to use as gift tags, postcards or pictures for homemade cards.

Recycle: You can recycle cards in your Big Bin



Reuse: If the unwanted handbag is still in a good condition you could give it to a local Give or Take Day or a charity shop or sell them online.

Recycle: You can recycle handbags at the Neighbourhood Recycling Centres with textile banks. 


Junk mail

Reduce: Join the Mail Preference Service to have your name removed from mailing lists.

Reuse: You can keep junk mail to use in arts and crafts.

Recycle: You can recycle paper and cardboard in your Big Bin



See E for electrical items. 



See E for electrical items. 

Light bulbs

Reduce: Buy energy saving bulbs, especially for places where you leave the light on for long periods. Avoid light fittings with spotlights, as these use more energy and you need more bulbs. Dimmer switches are useful if you have old style light bulbs because dimming your lights saves energy.

Recycle: You can’t recycle old style (non energy saving) light bulbs, so put them in your Little Bin.

You can take your energy saving light bulbs to:



Reuse: Dorset Reclaim will collect mattresses that are in good condition and still have a fire safety label attached. Dorset Reclaim is a local charity that collects items to sell to families on a low income. 

Recycle: You can recycle mattresses at Millhams Community Recycling Centre


Reuse: If in one piece, you could donate your unwanted mirror to a local charity shop or Give or Take Day.

Recycle: Please don’t put broken mirrors in your Big Bin for recycling. You can take them to one of our three Recycling Centres.

Mobile phones

Reduce: Before you buy a new mobile phone, think about whether you really need it. Most people change their phones every year but mobile handsets can last over five years.

Recycle: Shops that sell new phones often have pre-paid envelopes so you can send your old phone to a charity. These charities will also take your old phone:



Reduce: Choose eco-friendly nappies, such as ones that are biodegradable or have a low plastic content.  

Reuse: You could try real nappies. Using washable nappies, even alongside disposables, can save you lots of money, as well as reducing the amount of waste going into landfill. Check out our Real Nappy Incentive Scheme to save £30 off the cost of buying real nappies.

Recycle: Disposable nappies can’t be recycled. 



See E for Electrical Goods 



Reduce: There are lots of things you can do to reduce your paper waste, for example:

  • Print double sided
  • Check your bills online rather than getting paper copies

Reuse: Newspaper can be used for all kinds of things such as lining pet cages and your food waste caddy. Newspapers can be turned into logs that you can burn as fuel. 

Recycle: You can recycle paper in your Big Bin. You can also put newspaper in your compost bin


Reduce: Try to use natural paints where possible. Avoid toxic paints with a high Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs) content.

To stop your paint from drying out:

  • Before you put the lid back on, cover the tin with a layer of clingfilm.
  • Store the tin upside down.

Reuse: If you have unwanted paint, which is still usable, you can donate it to a local community project. 



Recycle: You can recycle photos in your Big Bin. 

Picture Frames

Recycle: If the frame is made out of wood or metal, you can recycle it at one of our three Recycling Centres.

Reuse:  Donate unwanted picture frames to a charity shop or Give or Take Day. 

Plastic bags

Reduce: Take your own bags when you go shopping. Avoid plastic carrier bags where possible. Buy a ‘bag for life’ from the supermarket or a cotton bag.

Reuse: If you have plastic bags at home you can reuse them for shopping, or as bin liners. You can use them for packed lunches or for wrapping food for the freezer.

Recycle: Most large supermarkets have collection points to recycle plastic bags.  

Plastic bottles

Reduce: Instead of buying bottled drinks, use a flask. Use tap water or filtered water instead of buying bottled water.  

Reuse: Keep a few small cosmetic and toiletries bottles. They are handy containers for shampoo and conditioner when you’re going away for the weekend, or on holiday.

Recycle: You can recycle plastic bottles in your Big Bin

Plastic packaging

Reduce: Choose food that doesn’t have a lot of packaging. Buy loose items and put them in your own bag. You could buy from local suppliers or sign up for a vegetable box scheme.

Recycle: Plastic food containers can go in your Big Bin. Most large supermarkets will accept a variety of unwanted film, carrier bags and wraps from magazines for recycling. 

Postage stamps

Recycle: If the stamps are attached to your envelope, you can recycle them as paper products.

You could also collect your stamps for charities such as:

Printer cartridges

Reduce: To make your printer cartridge lasts longer, turn off your printer so that it parks the print head. That way it won’t dry up.

Reuse: Refill your ink cartridges rather than buying new ones. You can take your empty ink cartridge to be refilled or you can do it yourself. The ink and refilling equipment can be easily bought online.

Recycle: You can take your empty printer and toner cartridges to a Currys PC World store where you will find a collection box.



Recycle: Rubble can be taken to one of our three Recycling Centres.

Rubble is chargeable as it is categorised as a non-household waste material. Check for disposal instructions and prices.


Sanitary Products

Reduce: Instead of using tampons or pads choose a sanitary cup which can be reused. Not only does this save money, it also greatly reduces waste. The Women’s Environmental Network has a factsheet on sanitary protection and the environment. 


Reduce: Good quality shoes last longer. To prolong the life of your shoes:

  • repair heels and soles
  • polish regularly
  • use waterproofing spray 

Reuse: If your shoes are in good condition, donate them to a Give or Take Day or a charity shop.

Recycle: You can recycle shoes in shoe or textile banks at our Neighbourhood Recycling Centres


Reduce: If possible, buy good quality furniture. It will last longer and will save you money in the long term.

Reuse: If your sofa still has a fire label attached, you can donate your furniture to charity shops or local community projects, including:

Recycle: You can take unwanted sofas to one of our three Recycling Centres for recycling. 


Telephone directories

Recycle: You can recycle telephone directories in your Big Bin or take them to one of our three Recycling Centres.


Reuse: If you have a traditional rotary dial telephone you might be able to sell it online. You could also see if your local playgroup would like it for the children to play with.

Recycle: You can recycle landline telephones at one of our three Recycling Centres.


Reduce: If you don’t have a digital TV you don’t have to get a new one. Almost any TV can be upgraded to digital using a digital box for around £20.

Reuse: TV is still in working order, but you would like to upgrade to a newer one. You could donate it to a local school, youth organisation or community project. 

Recycle: You can recycle TVs at one of our three Recycling Centres.

Tetra Pak cartons

Recycle: You can recycle Tetra Pak cartons in your Big Bin

Textiles – curtains, bed linen, clothes

Reduce: You can repair your old textiles at the Repair Cafe. 

Reuse: Old material can be reused for many things. Old sheets can be used for covering up furniture when painting. You could give unwanted clothes to friends, family, a charity or a Give or Take Day.

Recycle: You can add material made solely out of natural fibres (for example, cotton or wool) to your compost. Cut the textiles into small pieces and add gradually.

You can recycle clothes, blankets and sheets in textile banks at Neighbourhood Recycling Centres


(See E for electrical items) 


Reduce: If you don’t use tools very often, you could hire or borrow them when you need them rather than buying your own.

Reuse: Tools With A Mission provides tools to poverty relief projects overseas. They take all kinds of tools, as long as they’re in good condition.

You can donate your tools to a charity shop, a Give or Take Day or sell them online. 


Reduce: You can borrow toys from Toy Libraries.

Reuse: You could donate toys still in good condition to your local playgroup, school or hospital. You could donate toys to a charity shop, a Give or Take Day or sell them online.

Recycle: You can recycle toys at one of our three Recycling Centres


Vegetable oil 

Recycle: Getting rid of waste cooking oil can be difficult. Please don’t pour it down the drain, even with washing up liquid, because it turns solid in the sewers and causes problems.

If you only have a small amount, you can mop up excess cooking oil with a piece of bread and put it out for the birds. Or you can allow the fat to turn solid, and then put it in your Little Bin.

If you have a lot of waste cooking oil, you can recycle it at one of our three Recycling Centres. Please place the used oil in a sealed plastic bottle.

Video tapes

Recycle: Some charity shops will take your old video tapes, but check with them first. You could donate them to local libraries and schools.


Washing machines

See E for electrical 


Reduce: If possible, choose wood products made from recycled wood. Alternatively, buy second hand furniture rather than new.

Reuse: You can use wood off-cuts from any carpentry projects in wood burning stoves.

Recycle: You can recycle wood at one of our three Recycling Centres.

If you want to recycle wooden furniture in good condition, see F for Furniture. 


Reuse: You can donate wool to The Dorset Scrapstore. They use it to make craft items for schools and community groups

You can donate wool to a local residential home, a charity shop, a Give or Take Day or sell them online.

Recycle: You can compost wool, as long as it’s 100% natural wool. Cut it up into small pieces first. 


Yellow Pages

See T for telephone directories