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Home   Bins, litter and recycling   Bins   Mainland and Cumbrae bins

Mainland and Cumbrae: What goes in each bin?

Please note: This guidance applies to mainland and Cumbrae only. Please see our arrangements for Arran.

Please do not contaminate blue, purple or brown bins by using any plastic bags. This includes bin liners and carrier bags. 

Purple bin

Your purple bin is for:

  • glass
  • cans
  • plastic
  • cartons

Items must be loose, empty, clean and dry.

Purple bins should only contain the recyclable items listed below.


  • glass bottles and jars


  • food and drink tins and cans
  • aerosols
  • tinfoil
  • chocolate and biscuit tins
  • metal lids


  • plastic bottles
  • milk cartons
  • plastic tubs, trays and pots
  • fruit and vegetable punnets
  • toiletry bottles
  • cleaning product bottles
  • lids and tops
  • medicine bottles
  • plastic egg boxes


  • juice cartons
  • soup cartons
  • other cartons
  • tetra packs

What not to include

  • plastic bags or liners
  • hard plastics (such as toys, coat hangers, CD cases)
  • metal pots, pans or trays
  • cutlery
  • crisp bags
  • tablet blister packs
  • bubble wrap
  • cling film
  • polystyrene
  • electrical items
  • packaging with food residue
  • used tissues or kitchen roll
  • food and drink pouches
  • light bulbs
  • Pyrex or crockery
  • mirrors
  • contaminated tinfoil  

Blue bin

Your blue bin is for:

  • paper
  • card
  • cardboard

Items must be loose, clean and dry.

Blue bins should only contain the recyclable items listed below.

  • cardboard
  • cardboard boxes (place any large boxes beside your bin, flattened and tied or taped)
  • cereal boxes
  • toilet and kitchen roll tubes
  • corrugated cardboard
  • newspapers, magazines and catalogues
  • junk mail and brochures
  • paperback books
  • paper, including shredded paper
  • greeting cards
  • wrapping paper
  • envelopes
  • cardboard egg boxes

What not to include

Please do not include the following non recyclable items in your blue bin.

  • plastic carrier bags
  • paper towels or tissues
  • padded envelopes
  • plastic wrapping or bubble wrap
  • electrical items
  • duvets or bedding
  • clothes or shoes
  • hardback books
  • plastics
  • cans
  • glass
  • kitchen foil
  • cling film
  • takeaway pizza boxes
  • polystyrene
  • packaging with food residue

Brown bin

Your brown bin is for:

  • organic waste from the garden
  • food waste from the home

These can produce renewable energy and bio fertilisers or compost.

Garden waste

  • grass cuttings
  • weeds
  • dead flowers and plants
  • leaves and bark
  • hedges and branches (tie in bundles of about 1 metre and place beside your bin over a few weeks)
  • windfall fruit

You can also take your garden waste only (not food waste) to a HWRC.

Food waste

Food can be cooked or uncooked. It should be placed in compostable biodegradable bags.

View more on food waste.

  • dairy
  • fish, meat & bones
  • fruit & vegetables
  • bread
  • rice & pasta
  • tea leaves, tea bags & coffee grounds
  • egg shells.

What not to include

  • plastic bags (non compostable or non biodegradable)
  • plastic
  • rubble
  • turf or soil
  • wood of any kind
  • food or drinks containers
  • animal litter, bedding or faeces
  • soil (this can only be disposed of at Bartonholm Recycling Centre)

Grey bin

Your grey bin is for household waste that can't be recycled.

  • plastic and black bags
  • polystyrene
  • crisps and sweet wrappers
  • used tissues and wipes
  • cling film
  • light bulbs
  • pet litter, animal waste or bedding
  • nappies
  • personal hygiene products
  • food and drink pouches
  • hard plastics (such as toys, coat hangers, CD cases)
  • padded envelopes
  • tablet blister packs
  • ceramics

Any extra waste can also be taken to a HWRC.

For large items of household waste you can arrange a bulky waste collection.

What not to include

  • plastics, cans and glass
  • cartons
  • paper, card and cardboard
  • food waste
  • garden waste
  • electrical items
  • textiles and shoes
  • batteries

Collection Cycle

Grey, blue and purple bins are collected every three weeks. Brown bins are collected every fortnight.

Absorbent Hygiene Collection Service

The absorbent hygiene product collection is a fortnightly service is for customers who have a particularly high amount of nappies or absorbent hygiene waste products and cannot cope with a general waste collection every three weeks. This service may be provided on a temporary basis, depending on your circumstances. 

Once your application has been approved a Waste Awareness Officer will be in touch to confirm collection days and bin delivery. We provide a free 140 litre bin. 

The hygiene collection is for:

  • nappies
  • associated nappy changing rubbish, such as cotton wool, wet wipes, nappy sacks
  • incontinence pads

To apply for this service please contact us on 01294 310000.

Other recyclable items


All metal is 100% recyclable. Please take any metal items not listed above to your Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC).

Electrical items

Take small electrical items to your HWRC.


Batteries should not be placed in bins, as this may cause a fire risk at reprocessing facilities.

Small household batteries can be recycled at:

  • most electrical retailers
  • some supermarkets
  • North Ayrshire libraries, public offices and HWRC

Large rechargeable batteries (such as from lawnmowers) should be placed in the small appliances container unit at our HWRC.

Car batteries should be recycled at the garage where the new battery is fitted.


For textile recycling, either:

Wrong stuff, wrong bin

tag-on-blue-bin red-blue-tag-wee

It costs us £2.5 million a year to send non recyclable waste to landfill. This impacts on the environment as well as the delivery of services.

If your bin contains the wrong stuff, we won't collect it. Instead, we'll put a red tag on your bin to tell you why your bin has not been emptied.

If your bin has been tagged:

  1. Remove the wrong items and the tag.
  2. Put your bin out for the next collection day.

Why have we introduced a new Purple bin?

We are committed to improving our environment and have signed up to the Scottish Government’s Household Recycling Charter and associated Code of Practice. This aims to maximise the amount and quality of the material we collect for recycling.

The Scottish Government has set recycling targets of:

  • 60% by 2020
  • 70% by 2025

We must work together with our residents to do even more when it comes to recycling and achieve these targets.

In North Ayrshire, over 55% of waste is currently recycled.

However, our studies have shown that around 71% of the contents in the average grey bin could be recycled or composted, but is instead sent for final disposal.

This shows that there is significant room for improvement.

A review of our current recycling bin (blue bin) showed that a twin bin recycling system could:

  • reduce instances of contamination (when non-recyclable material is placed within a recycling bin)
  • increase the amount of material we recycle

With the introduction of the purple bin, we are providing our residents with additional recycling capacity. This will allow us to divert recyclable items from the grey bin into either the blue, purple or brown bins.

Further information, including what goes in each bin can be found in our  information pack (PDF, 1.4kb)