What colour is your household waste bin?

How far will I go to prove someone wrong?

Well, it turns out quite far. A few weeks ago @TillyWrites and I had a disagreement about the colour of household refuse bins. I think they are usually black, and Tilly thinks they are usually green.

Edit: This is about non-recyclable waste bins. Sorry for not making that quite clear!

So, on and off since then, I’ve been searching online for every authority in the UK with responsibility for waste collection, and capturing information about the colour of their bin, producing a glorious spreadsheet. (I like spreadsheets – spreadsheets are fun).

Suffice to say I’m winning. There are more authorities that provide black bins than green bins. And there are more people who use black bins than green bins as their main household waste bins across the whole of the UK (using ONS population estimates).

However, I’ve gotten a little obsessed. I now want to make a map to put on my wall – and I currently can’t find information online about bins in 34 authorities. I don’t want to have ‘unknown’ as a category in my final map if I can help it!

Can you help me make a complete data set and thus a pretty map?

If you live in one of the 34 authorities that is currently marked as ‘unknown’, could you add the colour of the bin to the spreadsheet? The rules are:

  • I’m looking for data on household waste collections only – not business waste.
  • If bins might be one of two colours, add both
  • If the bin lid is a different colour to the body, add both colours
  • The ‘black’ and ‘dark grey’ boundary is hard to differentiate – and I’m not sure authorities are using them distinctly. Add both if you aren’t sure!

When I’ve completed the dataset, I’ll publish a full list online, under an open license, with other data like population data, just in case anyone is geeky enough to want to use it for some reason. I can’t think why someone might want it, but who knows?!?


7 thoughts on “What colour is your household waste bin?

  1. Our wheely bins (large domestic, all same size)

    Black (not grey) bin for general waste, which is processed and composted before landfill to extract every last ounce of rottable organic

    Green bin for all garden and kitchen waste which is composted and given away as garden fertiliser

    Blue bin for all plastic (except polystyrene), cardboard, metals and a black caddy for all paper, all sorted locally and sent to appropriate recyclers


  2. On your chart it says Rushmoor bins are grey. I live in Rushmoor and don’t have any grey bins; my standard waste bin is green and my recycle bin is blue!


  3. Not all LLocal Authorities provide a bin. Your dataset was completely correct with regard to Medway: not provided! Stingy or what! 😊


  4. Hi there, I’m from Southampton where we have green bins. General household waste bin is completely green, recyclable bin is green with a blue lid. My parents live in neighbouring Eastleigh where they have a black bin (which, thinking about it, is probably dark grey, but we call it black) for general waste and a green one for recyclables. They also get a little mini bin for food waste which is brown.


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