Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
Recycling More Together

New service: questions answered

Here’s a selection of the most commonly asked questions and answers to help you understand more about new service.

We'll update our frequently asked questions as more details of the new service are finalised.

About your collections

When we roll out the improved services in September 2019, collection days will change for many households.

This will improve efficiency across the two boroughs and will include cross-boundary working.

The new rounds will also be designed with the two depots and the various disposal points in mind to reduce vehicle movements and collect your recycling and rubbish as efficiently as possible.

A comprehensive communications campaign will ensure all residents are aware of the service changes including:

Recycling Leaflet – you will receive a booklet with details of how to use the new services. Your collection day may change so please check the information carefully. This information will be posted to every household prior to the start of the new service in 2019.

Garden waste calendar – residents who subscribe to the garden waste service will receive a separate garden waste calendar.

Advertising/information – via local newspapers and magazines, on twitter, on facebook and on our website.

Collection vehicles - the new refuse and recycling collection vehicles and some street cleansing vehicles will have signs publicising the changes.

Roadshows – we will be visiting various sites around the borough such as supermarkets and high streets. Briefings will also be held at parish meetings, interest groups etc. Parish councils will also be asked to help publicise information on their websites and parish magazines.

You can be kept informed of all changes to your collections schedule by email. Sign up for updates here.

The existing staff will transfer to the new contractor in March 2019.

However, the new collection services mean that your usual staff may be on different rounds.

This means that they may take a few weeks to learn the new rounds and where bins are left for collection, as well as coming at different times to your current collection time.

Please make sure your bins are on the boundary of your property by 7am so they are visible from the road where possible.

You can also put your house name/number on them to help reduce missed collections and to make sure you get your bins back.

If you have previously registered for this service, you will still receive it.

If you are having difficulty putting your bins on your boundary for collection and need assistance you can let us know online.

You will receive recycling bins to recycle glass bottles and jars, cartons and other plastic packaging, tins, cans and aluminium foil.

You will have a separate bin for paper and cardboard.

We will look at introducing communal food waste collections where there is space to do so.

All residents in each block of flats will be notified once the new bins are in place.

These new services will be introduced from Monday 30 September.

Textiles will be collected on your recycling collection day. You can put out textiles in a carrier bag alongside your brown bin and green box.

Small electrical items will be collected on your household rubbish day. You can put out small electrical items in a carrier bag alongside your green bin.

Batteries will be collected on your recycling day. You can put out batteries in a small clear bag on the closed lid of your brown bin.

We will publish more information on these services as soon as it is finalised

Large items of furniture and larger electrical items can be disposed of using the Council's bulky waste collection service.

About your bins

When the new services are launched at the end of September your brown bin will no longer be used for garden waste.

You will be able to put the following in your brown bin when the new service starts:

  • Glass bottles and jars (no glass oven dishes, glass ornaments, mirrors etc)
  • Plastic trays (such as meat/food trays, fruit punnets)
  • Plastic pots and tubs (such as yoghurt pots and margarine/ice cream tubs)
  • Plastic bottles (such as milk, juice and cleaning product and shampoo bottles)
  • Aerosols, cans and tins including sweet and biscuit tins
  • Kitchen foil and foil food trays
  • Cartons – juice/milk/soup etc.

Please make sure these are all empty and have been rinsed out to help keep your bin clean.

No plastic bags – thank you, just put the items in loose.

We will be unable to accept different types of glass such as window glass, pyrex cookware, glass ornaments as these are made from a different type of glass which cannot be recycled.

We will also be unable to accept black plastic, ready meal trays and flower pots.

Please contact us via with your name, address and contact information and our waste team will be in touch to discuss your requirements.

Yes, you can request a smaller brown bin for your glass, plastic and cans recycling through our website.

Request a smaller bin

Please note: when the new services are introduced at the end of September you will not be able to use your green box for glass, plastic and cans recycling - we will only collect paper and cardboard from the green boxes.

Yes, if you can make use of two brown bins for glass, plastic and cans recycling when the new service start in September you can keep them.

If you don’t think you’ll need two brown bins after 30 September 2019 please let us know and we will collect one from you.

The paper recycling companies your recycling goes to won’t accept paper collected with glass because there is a possibility of glass fragments sticking to the paper. Also, if paper has food residue on it, it cannot be recycled.

By separating the paper and cardboard from other materials you are helping to make sure it is recycled.

Your green bin will be for non-recyclable waste such as:

  • Plastic film
  • Cellophane
  • Pet food pouches
  • Crisp packets
  • Plastic bags
  • Toothpaste tubes
  • Pet bedding/litter
  • Bagged pet waste
  • Nappies/sanitary items
  • Greetings cards with glitter
  • Broken plastic toys//plant pots etc.
  • Polystyrene packaging
  • Broken crockery/glass ornaments etc
  • Wrapping paper

You can't put the following items in your green household waste bin:

  • Garden waste - You can subscribe to our garden waste service or take garden waste to North Farm
  • Food waste - You'll have a caddy for food waste which will be collected weekly
  • Soil, rubble, tiles, bricks, DIY waste - You can take these items to North Farm
  • Large bulky items - We offer a large item collection service or alternatively you can take large items to North Farm
  • Waste electrical & electronic items - We will collect small electrical items fortnightly or alternatively you can take items to North Farm
  • Hazardous materials such as asbestos, car batteries, plasterboard etc. - You can take these items to North Farm
  • Paint tins containing liquid paint, we will collect tins with dried up paint and empty ones - You can take these items to North Farm

If you don’t have room to store bins let us know and we can either provide smaller bins or hessian sacks for your recycling and garden waste.

When the new recycling services start in September 2019 we will be collecting food waste every week which will help minimise smells and flies.

Collecting food waste separately from garden waste means they can be processed in different ways.

Food waste will be processed using heat to break down the waste and kill off any bacteria which means it can be composted and returned to use as a soil improver

Garden waste will be processed using the oxygen in the environment to break down the waste into compost so that it can also be returned to use.

Standard bins

The majority of homes in Tunbridge Wells currently have 2 bins and 2 boxes

  • One 240L green bin for general rubbish
  • One 240L brown bin for garden waste
  • One 55L green box for paper and cardboard
  • One 55L green box for plastic and cans

When the new services start at the end of September the brown bin will be used for plastic, cans and glass recycling.

Different sizes

Smaller (140L) bins are available in both green and brown for single occupiers, couples or small families.

Larger (360L) green bins are available if you:

  • Have six or more people living permanently at your address
  • Have two or more babies using disposable nappies
  • Have a medical condition which produces additional rubbish

Request a smaller or larger bin

If you ask for a larger (360L) bin, we may do a waste audit to make sure you need it.

Container sizes and capacity

Container sizeHeightWidthDepth Average capacity
140L Wheeled bin 1,050mm 475mm 545mm 2-3 bags
240L Wheeled bin 1,063mm 477mm 713mm 3-4 bags
360L Wheeled bin 1,098mm 596mm 878mm 5-6 bags
55L box 352mm 633mm 384mm  
Please note container dimensions may vary slightly, as we have used different manufacturers

Yes, if your bin or box gets damaged please let us know and we can replace them.

Tell us about a damaged container

The Council is keen to encourage residents to put the right material into the right bin and will communicate to residents which bin should be used.

Your general waste bin, the green household waste bin, is only for non-recyclable waste.

If your bin contains garden waste such as grass, leaves, prunings etc it will not be emptied.

We will not be offering a cleaning service for the brown bin’s, bins can be cleaned effortlessly by rinsing out with a bucket of water.

There are commercial companies available who offer a wheeled bin cleaning service if you would prefer to have your bin professionally cleaned.

If your bin or boxes are damaged you can fill in our online form to let us know.

Tell us about a damaged container

Where possible we will repair your damaged bin, if a repair is not possible we will deliver a replacement bin and the damaged one will be recycled.

About your boxes

The green boxes will continue to be used for paper and cardboard recycling. The brown bin will be used for plastic, cans and glass when the new service is introduced in September.

Separating materials in this way helps to ensure they are not contaminated when they are sent to the recycling companies.

You may see the collection crews emptying the green boxed into a wheeled bin as they walk along – this is called a ‘slave’ bin and will be emptied using the automatic lifting equipment on the lorry when it is full.

Paper, such as newspapers, leaflets, magazines, catalogues, envelopes, junk mail.

Card/cardboard such as sleeves from food packaging, cereal boxes, pizza boxes, toilet roll/kitchen roll centres, greetings cards without glitter.

Large cardboard boxes should be flattened and placed next to your box.

No, the green boxes will be used for paper and cardboard recycling and the brown wheeled bin that you currently use for garden waste will become the bin for mixed recycling of glass, plastics and cans.

If you do not currently have a brown bin collection where you live you will be given a brown bin or hessian sack for your mixed recycling when the new service starts.

You can flatten any large boxes and put them beside the box on collection day.

You can also use any cardboard boxes to store extra cardboard and paper if necessary.

We will always supply an extra green box if you want one.

The paper and cardboard needs to be kept separate from the other recycling.

Many paper reprocessors won't accept paper which has been collected with glass due to the risk of fragments of glass adhering to the paper causing damage to their machinery.

Paper can also become contaminated with food residues if plastics and cans are not rinsed before being placed in the bin.

You can stack paper and card vertically in your boxes which will reduce the chance of it being blown out of the box.

You can also use a stone or a piece of wood to weigh down the paper and cardboard.

About the contract

The Council’s current recycling, waste and street cleaning contract comes to an end in March 2019.

A new contract, in partnership with Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council has been awarded to Urbaser Ltd, a resource and waste management company.

The new contract will increase efficiency and improve services for local residents.

Whilst this partnership will mean that services will be operated across the two boroughs, each council will still manage its own services.

The new contract includes:

  • Fortnightly plastic, cans and glass recycling collection
  • Separate weekly food waste collection
  • Fortnightly collection of paper and cardboard
  • Fortnightly rubbish collection
  • Opt-in fortnightly garden waste collection
  • Collection of small electrical items, textiles and household batteries
  • Street cleansing services

When the new contract starts on 30 March 2019, waste and recycling collections will continue as normal.

We will be working with Urbaser to plan the roll-out of the new recycling services and we expect these to start in September 2019.

Urbaser takes over the new contract on 30 March.

Waiting until September to roll out the new services gives Urbaser time to finalise the collection rounds before the new and improved service starts.

Yes, we will continue to maintain all our sites until the new collection service has been introduced across the borough.

Inevitably, the usage of the sites will reduce when people can recycle more materials from home.

However, we are aware that we need to retain some core sites in the borough, for those people who live in flats or may have larger volumes of recycling at certain times of the year.

Household waste is taken to the Allington Energy from Waste plant, where it is burnt to generate electricity.

Recycling from your recycling bin will be sent to a materials recovery facility where the different recyclables are separated and sent for re-processing into new products.

Food waste will be sent to Blaise Farm for composting. The composted food waste is then used on local farmers’ fields as a soil improver to help grow more crops.

In the past there have been exports of poor quality material to China and other countries, however, in Kent we have always tried to make sure material is recovered and recycled as close to home as possible.

For example, in the period 2012/13 – 2016/17, 79% of household waste was processed in Kent, 14.1% other UK destinations and only 6.9% went abroad.

China and other countries have stopped accepting poor quality recyclate, which in turn drives up the quality of the materials recycling facilities in the UK, so good quality products can be offered on the open market.

You can help by making sure you don’t put any plastic film or bags into your recycling bin, and making sure the recycling is not contaminated with food or other items.

The service will still be provided at the current locations.

However, we will no longer accept garden waste on the CAV once the new kerbside services have been introduced on Monday 30 September.

The last garden waste collections for the Civic Amenity vehicle will be on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September.

Only those who subscribe to the garden waste service will have their garden waste taken away.

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