Recycling sacks and purple bin recycling

Recycling services in Tower Hamlets

Different types of property in Tower Hamlets have different recycling containers and collection points:

  • Houses or houses converted into flats: recycling will usually be collected in clear sacks or from a purple wheelie bin from the kerbside each week.  To have a purple wheelie bin the property must have space to store the bin off the pavement and be easily accessible on the day of collection.  Clear sacks are not needed if you have access to a purple recycling bin; items can be placed into the bin loose.
  • Estate or block of flats: most have purple communal bins in the bin store area or within the grounds. Clear sacks are not needed if you have access to a purple recycling bin; items can be placed into the bin loose.  A small number of estates and blocks of flats have a collection from the doorstep or kerbside. If your flat has a doorstep or kerbside collection this will be noted in the ‘Check my collection day and time?’ section below. Recycling will be collected in clear sacks.
  • Flats above a shop: recycling will be collected in clear sacks from the kerbside. Key roads have timed collection. Flats above shops and properties without communical bin areas along these roads have specific timed collections during the week.

Find your address in the section, check my collection day and time, for confirmation of your service type (communal, kerbside, doorstep, kerbside time banded).

Check my collection day, time and service type

Some streets have daily timed collections for rubbish and recycling. All the rubbish and recycling will be collected via sacks from directly outside your door each day at the specific times of day. Rubbish and recycling must be kept inside the property at all other times.

Check roads and times for timed daily collections

Weekly collections

Recycling is collected weekly. Please leave your recycling out before 7am on the day of collection.

To find your collection day and the kind of service your property is provided with please open the document below, type in the name of your road or block of flats into the ‘Find’ box and press return. 

Check recycling collection day

What can I recycle?

You can recycle all of the following materials mixed together, in your purple bin or clear sack.

 What you can recycle
 Materials Yes please No thanks

Paper and card

  •  Birthday and Christmas cards
  • Card and cardboard
  • Cardboard boxes (flattened)
  • Cardboard food packaging (e.g. cereal and clean pizza boxes)
  • Envelopes (including ones with windows)
  • Junk mail (please remove any plastic wrapping)
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Paper - all sizes and colours
  • Phonebooks - including Yellow Pages
  • Shredded paper (please place in a paper bag or an old envelope)
  • Wrapping paper (no foil)
  • Any paper/card containing foil or metal
  • Plastic-coated cardboard, polystyrene
  • Soiled pizza boxes (and other food soiled boxes)
  • Tissues and nappies


  •  Juice, soup, sauce and milk cartons. Please rinse first

Mixed Glass


  • All glass bottles and all glass jars, including beer and wine bottles, sauce jars, dressing (salad) bottles and jam jars. Please rinse first.
  • Any other glass items including:

  • Drinking glasses
  • Mirrors
  • Sheet (window) glass

Tins and cans

  • Drink cans
  • Food tins
  • Pet food tins
  • Empty aerosol tins
  • Foil trays
  • Sweet tins
  • Metal bottle tops
  • Jar lids
  • Any other metal items


  • Bottles and caps, including drinks, shampoo and washing up bottles
  • Food trays
  • Fruit and vegetable punnets
  • Margarine tubs, ice-cream tubs, and yoghurt pots
  • Food trays
  • Crisp bags
  • Food film
  • Plastic bags - please reuse them.
  • Plastic food pouches
  • Bubble wrap
  • Polystyrene

 what to recycle: cans, tins, paper, card, glass, plastic pots, trays and bottles, aerosols

keep out: food waste, clothes, nappies, electrical items, batteries, polystyrene and plastic wrap

Giving food and drink containers a quick rinse to remove food waste ensures that recycling is clean and good quality. Flattening boxes, cans and plastic containers where possible will save space in bins, sacks and the collection vehicle.

Some properties have a separate food waste service and garden waste service. Clothes, textiles and shoes can be recycled using textile banks at Recycling Centres or at charity shops.

Recycling sacks

Houses and houses converted to flats will continue to have their supply of sacks delivered directly to their homes twice a year.

Streetline will no longer take orders from residents for home deliveries of recycling sacks or food starch liners.

Rolls of clear recycling sacks can be collected from Idea Stores and libraries (except the local history library) any day of the week – addresses, directions and opening times.

Coronavirus update: In line with Government advice on Covid-19, all Idea Stores in the borough are closed until further notice as of 24 March. As a result, residents are no longer able we are to collect recycling sacks from Idea Stores.

Residents in blocks of flats with communal recycling bins, or residents who have purple wheeled bins, do not need to use council issued plastic recycling sacks.

Recycling can be placed into bins loose or in a clear carrier bag. Black sacks must not be used for these purposes.

Residents can use cardboard boxes or ‘bags for life’ for storing recycling in their homes and emptying recycling into their communal purple bins – these boxes or bags can then be re-used.

We apologise for the inconvenience this may be cause.

You can collect one roll of recycling sacks and/or food waste liners per visit by showing proof of your address such as a recent utility bill, council tax bill, bank statement or driving licence. Only residents from properties with a food waste service may collect food waste liners.

Residents with space for a bin on their property can request a recycling bin from the council. 

If you have a purple wheeled bin or large purple communal bin, council recycling sacks are not required to recycle, you can empty recyclable materials directly into bins without putting them into a sack. This allows more materials to fit into the bin, prevents overflowing and saves plastic. Alternatively, you can use any clear bag/sack. Do not use black sacks – they will be mistaken for household waste and will not be collected for recycling.

Disabled and elderly residents who live in a block of flats and would like recycling sacks but cannot collect them should contact the council to discuss their options. Contact us online if you need to request a delivery.

You can put your recycling in your purple bin loose - no need for bags


Residential recycling sacks are for use by residents for domestic/household waste ONLY. Use of these residential sacks by businesses for business waste is illegal. Businesses found to be using these domestic recycling sacks may be fined or prosecuted. For more information about business waste and the collection service visit the commercial waste page.

Ordering recycling wheelie bins

Residents in properties on the kerbside collection service can order a purple wheeled bin. You must be able to store the bin off the pavement/footpath and make sure it is easily available to the recycling crew on collection day, e.g. not up or down any stairs, behind locked gates.

Order a recycling bin



Purple wheelie bins are for recyclable materials only. Wheelie bins that are misused (e.g. filled with non-recyclable materials) will be removed.

What happens to my recycling?

Recycling is taken to Bywaters Materials Recovery Facility in Bow. Materials are sorted, baled and sent to recycling and reprocessing centres mostly within the UK.

Report a missed collection

Kerbside and doorstep recycling must be left out before 7am on the day of collection.

When communal bins contain high volumes of black sacks and non-recyclable materials your managing agent or housing association should be informed, as these items should be removed before collection by the council.

Reports of missed collection can be made after 3pm on the collection day.

Report a missed collection