Surprising Recycling: The Strangest Items Found in Bins

Surprising Recycling: The Strangest Items Found in Bins

Surprising Recycling: The Strangest Items Found in Bins


We’ve all heard the saying, “where there’s muck, there’s brass”, and given that we generate over 200 million tonnes of waste every year in the UK alone, there must be an awful lot of brass out there somewhere… But it seems not all bin men are lucky when it comes to finding treasures in our wheelie bins on collection day, in fact, many of them have to deal with more muck than any of us could imagine!

In 2011, Enfield Council revealed that refuse collectors had found everything from sex toys and dead pets to oil paintings and an urn containing ashes in recycling bins across the London borough, with local councillor Chris Bond stating that it “beggared belief” what some residents tried to recycle.

Other items included a fish tank, dog excrement, a blow up doll, and a plastic Christmas Tree which had been placed in an ‘Organic Only’ recycling bin, an error which could cost the local authorities over £1,000 if left unspotted, as the entire 10 tonne load would have to go to the landfill, rather than the recycling plant.


Litter Bins Across The Country


Waste Not, Want Not

Business Waste, a UK waste management company, also listed of the strangest items they had found in litter bins across the country, and the list is nothing short of shocking. From misspelt royal wedding merchandise to wedding dresses, a complete wedding cake, hundreds of undelivered newspapers, and a box of unused breast implants, refuse collectors have found it all.

They also came across a box of “Free Nelson Mandela” t-shirts… in 2013, a consignment of over 10,000 out-of-date condoms, and a human skull, which after police investigation, was found to be a prop from a local theatrical company.

However, some operators did strike lucky, with one finding £500 in old clothes, another finding £5,000 in used notes, and the odd winning lottery ticket has been found too! All money was donated to charity after no one came forward to collect it, but it just goes to show, that there really is brass in muck!

Home Sweet Home

In recent years, British birdlife has become partial to wheelie bins, recycling boxes, and cigarette bins, with many taking up residence in our everyday rubbish receptacles.  At the RSPB’s Vane Farm Nature Reserve in Fife, a female Blue Tit decided that the specially made nest boxes were not quite what she was looking for, and decided to set up home in one of the wall mounted cigarette bins!

The bird-loving staff decided that the only thing to do was to put a poster on the bin asking local Loch Leven residents not to use if for extinguishing their cigarettes and leave the Blue Tit to enjoy her new home.

In Temple Soweby in Cumbria, a family of robins decided to nest in one local resident’s wheelie bin, which prompted the Eden Council to issue the family with a second garden waste bin so that they would not have to disturb what has become one of Britain’s greatest loved birds.

Britain's Greatest Loved Birds

The Environment Protection Act 1990

Under the Environment Protection Act of 1990, British residents can be fined up to £50,000 or imprisoned for up to 5 years for committing waste offences, and even putting your wheelie bin out on the wrong day could result in a fixed penalty fine of £100. So one can only imagine what the fines w

ould be like for those disposing of samurai swords and old mattresses in their wheelie bins…!

If you are prone to disposing of everything but the kitchen sink in your wheelie bin or recycling box, please take a moment to think of the poor operators that have to empty them, after all, one man’s trash is not necessarily another man’s treasure!