FAQ - Waste and recycling

Frequently Asked Questions - COVID-19

Can I leave extra black bags beside my bin for collection?

No. This could create a health and safety issue as side waste may contain glass, needles or sharp materials (metal tins for example). Waste Collection Operatives are supplied with safety gloves but these don't protect staff from all potential injuries.

Can I throw black bags into the back of the bin lorry myself if the crew won't lift them?

No. Only Waste Collection Operatives with the relevant health and safety training can access refuse collection vehicles.

If the bin crews empty my green bin, can I refill it and ask them to empty it again?

No. Repeat emptying of bins takes time meaning routes would not be finished and some residents would not have their bin emptied. The bin lorry would also fill more quickly resulting in extra trips to empty it, so taking further time. We are still providing a full non-recyclable collection service so the advice is to make sure all recyclable materials are separated from general waste to minimise usage in the green bins.

What do I do with the extra waste I have?

We kindly ask that you store any additional waste safely within your property until it can be placed in the bin.

What can I do with my garden waste?

Normal fortnightly collections of garden waste are suspended until further notice. You will need to keep your garden waste in your garden until you can safely dispose of this. This might mean:

  • Doing less gardening than you usually would
  • Letting the grass grow into a summer meadow
  • Doing more home composting or starting a compost heap – you can search online for lots of advice but the Changeworks website has some good information and links and Zero Waste Scotland.
  • Leaving grass cuttings on the grass known  as ‘grasscycling’.
  • creating a wildlife home in a corner of your garden with branches and other items you would otherwise have taken to the recycling centre.

Won't an accumulation of household waste cause vermin and other health risks?

We are still providing a weekly collection service for food waste. If food waste is not collected regularly it can smell and may attract flies. We would therefore encourage residents to recycle their food waste to reduce this risk. Most waste and recycling, if free of food residues can be stored safely within the boundary of your property until it can be placed in the appropriate containers.

Recycling Centres

Why have the Recycling Centres been closed?

All four Recycling Centres in East Lothian  will be reopening on 1 June for use, read our guidance before making a trip to your local recycling centre.  

When will the Recycling Centres reopen?

The decision to re-open will be based upon national advice as and when it changes and our ability to meet the guidance provided. When the Recycling Centres are reopened, measures will be taken to restrict the number of vehicles on site and to ensure social distancing can take place.

East Lothian Council will inform residents of any changes to services via the East Lothian Council web pages and social media.

Isn't East Lothian Council encouraging fly tipping by closing the Recycling Centres?

Recycling Centres must remain closed to adhere to Government guidance. Fly tipping is against the law and those who do so risk receiving a fine. We can only hope that people choose not to break the law and dump rubbish. A significant number of the fly tipping incidents reported to us or highlighted on social media have been of commercial / trade waste. These businesses continue to have access to commercial waste disposal operators in the county where they can legally dispose of their waste.

Can I expect and Council Tax refund since I'm paying for a service I'm not receiving?

Householders are still having their green bins, recycling boxes and food waste collected as normal. They are just being asked to delay their visit to a Recycling Centre until the sites are able to reopen in accordance to Government guidelines. Both garden and bulky waste collections are services for which the Council may charge, these services are subsidised in East Lothian to assist our communities.

Why can't you put skips in residential areas for rubbish while Recycling Centres are closed?

Residents would still need to travel to skips to deposit their waste and the guidance from Government is that those types of journeys shouldn't be taking place at all. As the skips would be unsupervised we would have no control over who uses them and could not stop businesses who have to pay to dispose of waste illegally filling the skips intended for residents.

Additionally we could not prevent any hazardous materials such as Asbestos or chemicals being deposited in the skip which could place residents at risk.


An interim garden waste collection from households took place in early May. Normal fortnightly collections are suspended until further notice.