An easy guide to recycling!

This image above was added in December 2020. You can get more info here 

For more up to date information from Harrow Council, please visit What Goes in which Bin

Useful links:-

Harrow Council have provided blue, brown and green/grey bins for waste to every house in the borough, and are extending these arrangements to flats.

In the not too distant past, Harrow’s waste was sent to landfill, which wasted potentially useful materials which could be salvaged, and is becoming increasingly difficult as all the nearby landfill sites are becoming full.

Britain relies more heavily on landfill than other countries in Europe, but all are experiencing the same problems, and all local authorities are committed to improve their waste disposal arrangements.

The Harrow brown bin is for material which can be composted – organic material such as

  • hedge clippings,
  • grass,
  • dead flowers,
  • vegetable peelings or food waste.

Food waste should be wrapped in newspaper (a cellulose product which will degrade readily), but it is better to recycle newspapers, so they should not routinely be placed in the brown bin.

The brown bin is collected every week – so food waste in Harrow is collected as often as it was under Harrow’s traditional arrangements. Not everyone realised this when the arrangements were changed in 2006, and Harrow got a bad press which it did not deserve.

Most plastic bags will not rot down to form compost, and those that do are difficult to identify. They should not be placed in the brown bin, neither should oasis, which should be separated from flower arrangements.

Re the brown bin: –

Yes please: –

Grass cuttings
Garden pruning
Branches and twigs
Wood shavings
Carboard (all types)
Wet/damp newspaper
Brown paper

No thanks: –

Pet waste e.g. cat/dog litter
Glass, metal or porcelain
Plastic containers or plant pots
Plastic bags
Wax packaging
Foil packaging
Vacuum cleaner waste
General household rubbish

The Harrow blue bin is for materials which can be recycled, e.g.

  • cans,
  • plastic bottles,
  • plastic containers,
  • glass bottles,
  • glass jars,
  • Tetrapak containers,
  • newspapers,
  • magazines,
  • cardboard,
  • aluminium foil,
  • envelopes
  • and junk mail.

It is collected every fortnight.

Re the blue bin PLUS glass: –

Blue bin

Harrow is part of West Waste, which uses a MRF (Material Recycling Facility), pronounced merf, to separate these materials for reuse.

The Harrow green or grey bin is for everything else, e.g.

  • disposable nappies,
  • hoover bags
  • dust bags,
  • light bulbs,
  • plastic bags (which the MRF cannot separate),
  • plastic film (which the MRF cannot separate),
  • expanded polystyrene, etc.

This is collected every fortnight. As it cannot be recycled it goes to landfill.

But, of course, the strategy we should follow, in order of merit, is:

•    Reduce
•    Reuse
•    Recycle

If we do not create the waste in the first instance we do not put ourselves in the position of needing to recycle it. So – can you reduce the resources you use, use them again or give them to someone else who can do so, and only then recycle them under Harrow’s arrangements?

Mick Oliver
Member of Harrow Agenda 21 Waste Group

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Mike Oliver · September 20, 2008 at 11:36 pm

The reasoning behind accepting meat and fish products, with their bones, and peelings etc. in the brown bin is that: –

They decompose in the treatment conditions the waste gets and the brown bin is collected weekly. This means that everyone who expects the traditional weekly collection need not worry about the materials which would be troublesome if they were left for a fortnight, as they will not be.

Using newspaper to wrap food waste minimises nuisance and the possibility of infestation.

I would prefer cooking fat and oil to be used as a source of biodiesel – some SE London authorities are doing this for commercial fats & oils – not sure what Harrow’s arrangements are, and whether they apply to household waste.

Best regards
Mick Oliver

Heena Modi · September 20, 2008 at 11:39 pm

Thanks for this Mike
Hopefully this will help the residents of Harrow 🙂

Heena Modi · February 17, 2009 at 1:43 pm

I recently found out that some refuse collectors will not empty your brown bin if you have non – Harrow decomposable bags in them.

Why? If it’s decomposable and from Harrow or a supermarket, who cares right?

They want us to use Harrow ones because it’s guaranteed to decompose in three weeks! Wow! That’s so quick.

Also they’d need to familiarise themselves with all the different decomposable bags that are on sale, in order to know whether the contents were in an appropriate bag or not. Unless it says decomposable all over it, they won’t necessarily know.

I think it sounds quite reasonable. Do you?

S · July 26, 2009 at 12:19 am

Plastic water bottles are a huge problem in many areas. Some places have actually banned them altogether, others charge high a deposit fee.
Too bad bio-plastics just aren’t viable yet on a large scale.

Richard · September 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm

So what are we supposed to do with flower pots ?
Obviously not compostable, but can they go in the recycling bin ?

    Heena Modi · September 25, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Good point
    I was going to ask the nearest garden centre if they can use them but tried freecycle first and a whole load of them were collected within 2 days! 🙂

Comments are closed.