Black box paper recycling collection

We collect your black box paper recycling every other week, which could include:

  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Catalogues and phone books
  • Cardboard packaging and boxes (flattened or cut up to fit inside your recycling box, or left in a neat, manageable 2ftx3ft bundle next to it) also include boxes for pizza, cereal, eggs etc.
  • Cardboard tubes (e.g. toilet rolls)
  • Cards (e.g birthday, Christmas)
  • Shredded paper – place in plastic carrier bag and leave untied

Please don't put these in your black box:

  • Hardback books (we cannot recycle the cover - why not give them to charity?)
  • Drink and milk cartons
  • Tetra Paks (e.g. juice cartons)

Recycling guide - printable leaflet

Find out about what happens to your recycling.

Common questions about black box recycling

My paper is kept outside what happens if it gets wet?

The council collects paper and card recycling when it's wet. However, we do ask residents to store their recycling in a dry place before collection day if possible, as the recycling potential of paper is higher when it's dry.

Is wet paper and card difficult to recycle?

Wet paper and card clog together, which is damaging to the automatic sorting equipment at the automated paper sorting facility It makes separation of the different types of paper and card more difficult e.g. brown card is wet, it won’t stick to the spikes within the machinery that are used to separate out small pieces of card from high grade paper and as a result the facility have to use more chemicals to break down the high lignin (this is an organic polymer found in card that gives it strength) content of the card and bleach the colour to enable them to use the recycled paper to make products like newsprint. Higher energy and chemicals requirements for the recycling and sorting processes. Wet paper and card decompose rapidly, shortens fibres and makes it harder to recycle.

How much paper and card is not recycled because it is too wet?

A relatively small proportion. During the period April to December 2020, 450 tonnes of paper and card was not recycled because its moisture content was too high. This compares to 7,877 tonnes of paper and card that was recycled (94%) over the same period. Bromley continues to have one of the highest recycling rates in London at around 50%. Paper and card that could not be recycled was sent to an energy recovery facility, where it was used to generate electricity and heat energy. However, the council is looking at ways to recycle as much as possible and to minimise the need for this.

What can I do to stop paper and card recycling getting wet?

Ideally, keep your paper and card recycling box in a sheltered area such as inside your home, under a porch or in a garage until collection day. Placing your green box on top of your black box if you can. Cover the box with a plastic bag/ sheet, wooden fence panel, or lid, which is suitably weighted – ideally something from your home that is unused, we’d love to hear from anyone that has a particularly creative cover.

How can I stop my paper recycling blowing in the wind?

Covering the box is good practice, especially on windy days, and the easiest way of doing this is to put your green box on top of it. Or you might prefer to buy a net to cover the box and keep the contents contained. These are available to buy from libraries and cost £1.20 each. Nets are tied to the box handle to ensure they don't get lost.

What is the council doing to ensure that all paper and card is recycled?

The council is continuing to look at a number of options to minimise this issue, as it has done for a number of years, including sharing this with residents so they can take action to help. The council will keep this whole matter under review.

Are wheelie bins the solution?

For this to be effective, all households would need wheeled bins, which would be a multi-million pound cost with comparatively little saving. In addition, as a round with wheeled bins takes longer there could also be other additional costs including staff and potentially vehicles too. Some residents may have practical constraints of storing wheeled bins.

Why can't I buy my own wheeled bin for paper and card recycling?

We cannot collect from wheeled bins for a number of reasons including that this makes the service inefficient. With previous experience showing that the occasional wheeled bin led to collection difficulties for some, and the potential issues of damage to these privately owned bins.

Why can't paper and card be mixed with other materials?

By separating paper from other recycling it maximises what the volumes of paper than can be recycled and allows the service to be as efficient as possible. With the value of the separately recycled paper being higher it helps the council to finance a separate paper collection with the environmental benefits that implies.

Large cardboard boxes do not fit in the back box, can I present them for recycling?

Yes, please flatten and break the boxes into pieces before placing in your black box and consider helping neighbours that are less able to do this. If you have more than fits in the box leave in a neat, manageable 2ftx3ft bundle next to it. This is because unflattened cardboard boxes quickly fill up our collection lorry and once full the lorry must travel to the waste depot to get emptied before returning to collect. This reduces the efficiency of our collection service and increases the vehicle emissions associated with managing waste. If cardboard boxes are not flattened, broken down or there is a significant volume, our collection crews will not take them.

I always have too much paper for my black box, what should I do?

If you need another black box for your paper and card, please request one. You can use plastic carrier bags, loosely tied, if you prefer but please don't use black bags instead of a black box, as we might mistake your recycling for rubbish


Recycling and waste management

Telephone: 0300 303 8658