Recycle Week: Your questions answered

Updated: Oct 7



Feeling confused and frustrated when it comes to recycling? Is there a particularly tricky item that has you scratching your head when it comes to what can and cannot go in your recycling bin?


This Recycle Week, Community Champion Alyson, the creator of our NEW recycling guide, has been busy finding solutions to your questions to help us all recycle more in Merton!


(Please note that due to the current situation, some services may not be operating as usual. Please contact the service provider for more information.)


Q) What do I do with milk bottle tops, ice cream cartons and metal jam jar lids?


A) Milk bottle tops – these are not taken by Merton Council. However, they are typically accepted by the Work and Play Scrapstore in Wandsworth.


Ice cream cartons – these are not typically made of a plastic that is recycled by the Merton Council. They are a great size, I tend to use them as a replacement for Tupperware (so I don’t buy them in the first place), or for storage, for items in the fridge, or cupboards etc. If you have a lot, I would try posting them on social media (please see Q4 for more details), as they are great for storing craft items etc.


Metal jam jar lids – these can be recycled with Merton Council’s kerbside recycling service. However, you will need to remove the lid.


Q) It's great to see that finally some brochures and leaflets/pamphlets are being sent out using plastic-free packaging. This being said, there are no clear guidelines or recommendations (on the packaging) as to where best to recycle or compost this particular item. Any help on this matter would be appreciated.




Q) I would be grateful for clarity on fruit juice cartons, and clear plastic containers that takeaway food comes in


A) Fruit juice cartons – If they are a Tetrapak then they can be recycled with Merton Council's recycling collection service.


Takeaway food containers can be disposed of with Merton Council’s recycling service. However, I also use them in place of Tupperware (they are a great size for putting leftovers in the freezer). I also give them to the Merton Homeless Drop-In centre on Kingston Road, where they can be used for storing food.


Q) It's great to see that finally some brochures and leaflets/pamphlets are being sent out using plastic-free packaging. This being said, there are no clear guidelines or recommendations (on the packaging) as to where best to recycle or compost this particular item. Any help on this matter would be appreciated


A) If you have a compost bin you can compost it at home.


Q) Can you please tell me where to recycle leftover wallpaper & carpet other than at the Garth Road Centre? Do you know of any organisations that could use them?


A) In normal times (i.e. before Covid), I would recommend donating these to the Work and Play Scrapstore on Blackshaw Road. They are a registered charity which has operated in Wandsworth for over 30 years. They promote the reuse of reclaimable or lost resources for environmental and community benefit. They cut carbon emissions through saving materials (re-using over 50 tonnes of waste every year) from landfill and incineration. The Scrapstore typically accepts both domestic and commercial donations. However, I do know at the moment that they are not yet accepting donations as they will need to be quarantined. I would suggest keeping an eye on their website in case this changes soon.


There is also an alternative charity in Sutton called Squirrels Community Scrap Scheme, which offers a similar service. Please check their website to find out if they are currently accepting donations.


Other than that – I would recommend posting them on social media to see if anyone wants them for craft projects etc. I tend to use Olio, Nextdoor, Facebook Marketplace, Freecycle and there is also the free items section on Gumtree.


Q) I’m interested to know about recycling waste hair. I feel so guilty to mix the hair with other waste items. How can I take responsibility?


A) I recently read about this – apparently hair is full of nutrients and can be put in with plants in the soil (in the garden or pots I assume). I haven’t tried this yet (although I do plan to), so I don’t know how successful it is – seems like an idea though.


Q) When do we remove lids and when don't we? ie glass jars, drinks cartons/tetra packs, plastic bottles?


A) I would always remove lids, as they don’t recycle plastic lids in Merton (but they do recycle metal lids)


Q) Where can I recycle small electric items and printer cartridges? I don't have car and therefore cannot use the recycling centre.


A) Small electrical items – I have recently been advised that one of the options I previously identified for recycling of small electrical items is no longer available. I will do some further research and provide further details. Please check back here soon.


Printer cartridges – Sustainable Merton is part of the Recycle 4 Charity initiative which enables people to recycle printer cartridges to help the environment and raise funds for the charity.


Q) Is it true this symbol (right) means the manufacturer made a financial contribution towards the recovery and recycling of packaging – NOT that the packaging is recyclable?


A) Yes, you are correct. The Green Dot, as it is known, does not necessarily mean that the packaging is recyclable, will be recycled or has been recycled. It is a symbol used on packaging in some European countries and signifies that the producer has made a financial contribution towards the recovery and recycling of packaging in Europe.




Some great questions, thank you! And thanks to Alyson for helping us get to the bottom of them. Remember, you can now also search for items using our NEW handy recycling guide! Go to sustainablemerton.org/recycling to get started.


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