St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Recycling – Our most frequently asked questions

St Nicks Recycling Coordinator Sam Taylor held a Recycling Q&A session and this is what happened. Join us for our next Q&A on the 19th October 2016 on Twitter and Facebook.

On 21st September we held our first ever Twitter Question and Answer session on my favourite topic… Recycling! I thought I’d share the most popular questions we get asked and answer in a bit more detail than the 140 character limit allows.

If you have any more questions about recycling, reuse or cutting back on your waste you can contact us anytime but we are having another Q&A on October 19th on Twitter and Facebook! Use the hastags #wastebusters and #wastenot to join in the conversation!

The first 5 questions shown here are the most popular questions from Twitter:


First of all it’s an easy way to have a massive positive impact on the environment. Landfills have all sorts of nasty side effects such as air, soil and water pollution and they take up valuable land, it’s not a sustainable choice. If you have a look at One Planet York you’ll see each person in the UK is currently using the equivalent of three times the Earth’s finite resources. A move to a circular economy where manufacturers reduce the amount of waste generated in the first place is the way forward but in the meantime reducing our own waste, reusing and eventually recycling are our best options!

If you are more financially motivated it might help to know that recycling doesn’t cost you anything extra because you pay for it as part of your council tax. If you don’t use your recycling service you are basically throwing money away! Sending waste to landfill and maintaining these sites is getting more and more expensive so who knows, sending everything to landfill may end up putting your council tax up in the long run…

Of course you can  have a look at our website for the list of items we can collect. If you’ve got any doubts/questions please give us a ring and we’ll see how we can help.


Unfortunately Tetrapacks are composites made of alternating layers of card, foil and plastic. For most recyclers it’s too expensive to separate the layers so it’s not cost effective to recycle them at the kerbside. There are however a few places you can take them such as Hazel Court or Monks Cross, see this website for a full list of places.

A community recycling scheme is one set up by the community rather than the council. Ours is the last of its kind in the UK! St Nicks Recycling team has a low emissions service using an electric vehicle and tricycles to pick up recycling from residents and businesses in York.


The only place I currently know of is Squirrel Community Scrap Scheme  but if there are any more please let me know ( If the scraps are 100% cotton you can compost them!

Other common questions:

What can I recycle?

Unfortunately that can vary a lot depending on where you live. The easiest way to check is to go on your local authority’s website.

In York it will change depending on whether it’s St Nicks, or the council that collects your recycling. For CYC collections see their website. We collect:

However, if you are ever in any doubt please just ask us!

Why no window envelopes?

We keep our contamination rates as low as possible, if we collect envelopes with windows we are allowing plastic to be mixed in with our paper. This will affect the quality of the materials and could ultimately result in the entire shipment of paper being sent to landfill instead of being recycled. We want to avoid that at all costs which is why we can be so obsessive about it!

Why do you leave things in my box?

Anything we can’t recycle we just won’t collect. It saves confusion for our residents and businesses – if we took it you might think it was being recycled and we don’t want to mislead people. It also saves us the cost of sending items onto landfill later down the line.

Is the material you collect really recycled?

Yes! That’s why we are so clear on what we will take and what we leave behind, by minimising the contaminants in our recycling we are able to guarantee to our buyers that they can reuse them. This means that it will not end up in landfill/incinerators further down the supply chain. We even know the individual mills where our materials end up!

Why do you ask us to separate our materials?

We ask you to separate your materials in part to make the job slightly easier for our staff and also to minimise the contamination rates (see above). Our method of collection is labour intensive in that we sort all materials by hand at the kerbside. We do this so that our collections are as environmentally friendly as possible and again so we know exactly what we are collecting. Any thing you do that can help our team is greatly appreciated such as: separating your materials (especially paper and card), cleaning and squashing cans and plastic bottles and emptying your box if we leave anything we cannot recycle.

How can you collect unusual items?

We work very closely with a company called Terracycle. They work with big businesses from various industries to recycle their products into benches, compost bins and even outdoor gyms! It means the big companies such as Tassimo and Right Guard can help make a positive difference to our environment and people are sending less waste to landfill! The way we carry out our collections means it is much easier for us to collect some of the extra items than some of the bigger recycling operations.

Are you part of the council?

No, we operate under a service level agreement with City of York Council to collect recycling from properties within York City Centre. St Nicks is a registered charity, we got involved in recycling to make York a more sustainable city. For more information on our history and ongoing projects please explore our website.

Will you collect from my house?

If you live on one of the streets we are contracted to collect from then yes! If you are outside of our operating areas then I’m sorry but we can’t. Check your postcode on the council’s website to be sure. If you need more information about your collection or need replacement boxes/baskets/bags please just give us a ring.

What happens to my recycling once you are finished with it?

It gets collected by a few different organisations and remade into new products. It gets cleaned and usually, although it does depend on which waste stream, chopped up into tiny pieces so it can be melted and reformed into a new bottle/can/magazine/box.

If you’d like to see what items look like at different stages of the recycling process you should come to our craft and jumble sale where we will have examples to display. Products at different stage of the process have kindly been donated to us by TerraCycle.

If you’ve got any further questions please do get involved with our next Question and Answer session on Facebook and Twitter on 19/10/16.

You can also come and meet us in person at our Craft and Jumble Sale on Saturday 22nd October at Clements Hall. You can even start your Christmas shopping early!

10 October 2016 | Categories: Inspiration, Opinion Piece, Waste and recycling | Tags: Christmas, City of York Council, Craft and Jumble, honesty, Information, Q&A, Questions, recycling, Research, reuse, terracycle, Twitter