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10 March 2016

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In this section you can find information on how to deal with oil (cooking/ fuel), paint, paper goods and packaging, plasterboardplastics and printer cartridges

Oil (cooking)

Cooking oil should not be poured down the sink, toilet or drain.
Recycle: once the oil has cooled, strain and pour it into a plastic bottle. All Essex County Council recycling centres accept used cooking oil.
Compost: Cooking oil can be put in enclosed composting systems, such as bokashi systems, wormeries and food digesters. Mix with absorbent cardboard or paper before adding to the bin. 

Oil (fuel)

Do not pour engine oil into drains or watercourses. This causes pollution, destroys wildlife habitats and reduces the efficiency of bacteria in the sewage system.
Never burn oil in the open or mix with other substances.
Recycle: Engine oil can be recycled in the engine oil container at Essex County Council recycling centres.


Liquid paint should never be put in your general waste

Depending on the amount of leftover paint that remains, the best solution is to find a way to reuse it:
However, it's possible to dry out leftover liquid paint. For cans that are half full or less, the lid can be taken off and the paint allowed to completely dry out (in a well-ventilated area). You can speed up the process by:
  • Adding dry soil, sand or sawdust and leaving it to harden
  • Adding shredded newspaper and allowing the paint to soak in and harden
  • Brushing leftover paint onto paper and leaving it to dry out/harden
  • Buying specialist paint hardener (a bit like cat litter) available in DIY stores.
You can then dispose of the material in your kerbside general waste, or you can dispose of it at any Essex County Council recycling centre.
Please note:
  • The hardening process can take longer for solvent-based paint.
  • Once paint has been hardened, pierce the remains to ensure that no liquid residue remains.
  • Dried out/empty metal paint cans should be placed in the scrap metal container at any Recycling Centre for Household Waste
  • Dried out/empty plastic paint cans should be placed in the waste to landfill container at any Essex County Council recycling centre.

What not to do with leftover liquid paint

  • Do not put liquid paint or paint cans into your general household waste
  • Do not pour liquid paint down your sink, toilet or into household drains
  • Do not pour liquid paint into any waterways such as local streams or rivers
  • Do not bury paint or paint cans in your garden.

What else to consider…

Reduce: Buy natural paint, any leftover can be composted once hardened (see notes above on how to harden leftover liquid paint).
Reuse: Either offer to friends or relatives, or the Community RePaint Scheme accepts leftover paint from businesses and members of the public.
Recycle: Clean and empty metal paint cans can be placed in the metal container at the recycling centre.

And finally ...

If you're unable to reuse or dispose of your paint correctly, please take it in liquid form to your local Essex County Council recycling centre.
If paint is in liquid form and there is a hazard logo on the tin, it may fall under the Household Hazardous Waste Scheme. For advice on disposal, contact the Waste and Recycling helpline on 0345 603 7625.

Paper goods and packaging

Recycling centres accept a variety of paper goods including: 


Reduce: Borrow from libraries or join a book-swapping club.

Reuse: Buy or sell used books through online auction sites. Many charity shops also accept donated books for resale.

Recycling: Essex County Council recycling centres accept books in any condition. There are separate containers for hardbacks and paperbacks. The books are then reused and can benefit many local charities.

Some district and borough councils have local book banks. Please contact your local council for details.

Books should not be placed in paper recycling banks due to the strong glue used to bind the pages. 

Christmas cards

Reuse: Cut up Christmas card pictures and use as gift tags, or collage together to make homemade cards for the following year.
Recycle: Christmas cards can be recycled in Essex County Council's Christmas card recycling boxes located at County Hall, Chelmsford, during the Christmas and New Year period. Money raised from recycling the cards is donated to the chairman of the council's chosen charity.
Some district and borough councils allow cards to be recycled through kerbside collections. Check your local council for details.
Cards can be taken to any Essex County Council recycling centre and placed in the cardboard container for recycling.
Please do not put cards in the newspaper and magazine recycling banks.


Reuse: Remove the original address label on the envelope, or cover with paper with the new address written on.   
Recycle: Envelopes (remove plastic windows first), including padded envelopes (remove bubble wrap), can be recycled at recycling centres in the cardboard recycling container. Some kerbside recycling collections take brown paper and windowless envelopes. Check with your local district or borough council.


Reduce: You can choose not to receive unsolicited mailings by contacting
To request a No Junk mail! sticker then please email
To opt out of un-addressed Royal Mail deliveries, email:
Before any action is taken, you will receive advice on the type of mail this action affects.
Recycle: Junk mail is classed as paper and may be collected through local council kerbside collections. Alternatively it can be placed in the designated container any Essex County Council recycling centre. Do not put cardboard in newspaper and magazine recycling banks, the fibres in cardboard are of a lower grade than paper and upset the paper recycling process, place in the cardboard container instead.

Telephone directories

Reduce: If you no longer wish to receive yearly-issued telephone directories, you can take yourself off the BT phonebook mailing list. Details are contained within the directory itself. There are similar services available from other directories
Recycle: Telephone directories can be recycled as part of kerbside collections.


Disposal: Plasterboard and gypsum products cannot be mixed with other waste. You can take plasterboard sheets, broken plasterboard and painted/wall papered plasterboard to Essex County Council Recycling Centres. Bins for these materials are available at most of our recycling centres, except the following smaller sites.
  • Burnham on Crouch - nearest bin is at Maldon (Park Drive), or South Woodham Ferrers (Ferrers Road)
  • Dovercourt - nearest bin is at Kirby le Soken (Malting Lane) or Clacton (Rush Green Road)
  • Lawford - nearest bin is at Kirby le Soken (Maltings Lane), or Clacton (Rush Green Road), or Colchester (Shrub End)
  • West Mersea - nearest bin is at Colchester (Shrub End)
  • Mountnessing - nearest bin is at Brentwood (Coxtie Green Road), or Chelmsford (Drovers Way, North Springfield)


Reduce: Buying items in one large bag instead of several smaller snack-size bags saves on packaging, you can then split portions into reusable containers. Reusing and refilling water bottles reduces the need to buy new ones. Consider buying fruit and vegetables loose or choose items in biodegradable film which will break down. 
Recycle: Plastic bottles such as drinks bottles, shampoo bottles, detergent bottles and milk bottles can be recycled at any Essex County Council recycling centre. Empty and rinse the bottles in warm water and squash them so they take up less room.
Your district and borough council may provide a kerbside recycling collection and may also provide local recycling banks for plastic bottles. Contact your local council for details.

Mixed plastics

Recycle: Your district or borough council may provide a kerbside recycling collection for mixed plastics. Contact your local council for details.

Carrier bags

Reduce: Politely decline carrier bags in shops and have your own bag available.
Reuse: Keep carrier bags in your car or bag so they are to hand when you next go shopping. Reuse bags to line bins and as padding in parcels.
Recycle: Carrier bag recycling banks can be found at many supermarkets. Some district and borough councils may also include them in their kerbside collections.

Plastic coat / clothing hangers

Reduce: Leave unwanted hangers in shops.

Reuse: Donate to charity shops and homeless shelters.
Recycle: Larger supermarkets may provide a hanger recycling bank, check at you nearest store. 
Other forms of plastic, such as hard plastics (toys, DVD cases) and carrier bags should be reused or donated where possible. If this is not possible, they should be disposed of as part of household waste.

Printer cartridges

Reuse: Some shops and online companies provide a printer cartridge refill service. See your local directory or search online for details.
Recycle: You can recycle your printer cartridges by donating them to participating charities or taking them to stores that run recycling schemes.
They can also be recycled at Essex County Council recycling centres. Broken or damaged cartridges will not be accepted. Please speak to site staff who will advise how to recycle them. 
Printer cartridges should be in the original packaging or wrapped in cardboard or paper to prevent damage.