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What You Need to Know About Coloured Refuse Bags

So – we all know (and perhaps love) bin bags, which are typically black polythene bags. Black polythene is used to make the quintessential bin bag; highly opaque, lightweight, and thin, but somehow strong enough to hold so much household waste, that you’ll test your strength on the way to put the bins out.

And for the most part, we in the UK only really know about black bin bags. Some of us might live in areas with recycling schemes that provide clear bags. But outside London, there’s not really much else going on with coloured waste bags. With shrinking landfill space and an urge to waste less in our crowded world, that might soon change. So, let’s take a closer look at coloured refuse bags and their uses in sorting, safety and beyond…


Coloured refuse bags full of waste, on a train station platform. The polythene waste bags are coloured yellow, blue and green for different types of waste.


Does the colour of bin bags really matter?

Yes! Like we mentioned above, clear bags are essential for recycling – but coloured refuse bags are super important for the handling of hazardous waste:

Hazardous Waste Bags – Colour Codes And Uses

It’s essential that medical waste, dentistry, and asbestos disposal bags are clearly marked, to keep waste handlers and anyone who might come across the bags safe from the contents. But what other uses do coloured refuse bags have?

In our day-to-day lives, their biggest use is in the separation of waste types – and in Westminster, waste is being handled a little differently to other parts of England.

If you live or work in London, you might have noticed all the different coloured bins and rubbish bags. Well, there are a variety of different waste collections available to commercial organisations – which use different coloured bags and have additional cost applied to them.

Here are the coloured refuse bags you’ll typically see in and around Westminster:

Red bags

These are for light general waste from retailers and offices. Heavy duty red bags are used for waste from hospitality businesses.

Blue bags

Blue bags are used in this scheme for recycling. Paper, cardboard, glass, cans, plastic pots, trays, tubs and bottles – even Tetrapaks can go in these. Large boxes are flattened and marked with yellow stickers, not placed in bags.

Grey bags

These are used for waste destined for industrial compactors.

We might soon move over nationally to a colour-coded waste system with a high degree of separation – like they have in European countries. Coloured waste bags come in so many colours that organising waste into lots of categories is possible.

There are drawbacks, like how long it takes to throw rubbish away. And remembering all the collection dates! But the benefits are numerous, and important in a time of shrinking resources and rising costs.

What other uses do coloured refuse bags have?

Organic waste collection

Coloured refuse bags can be used to collect organic waste – food scraps and garden waste – for composting. Brown or green polythene bags are often used for this, to show that the contents are biodegradable.

Food service

In restaurants, catering services, or food processing facilities, cleanliness and hygiene standards are incredibly important. Coloured bags may be used for different types of waste besides food scraps – like for packaging materials and non-recyclable items. This helps keep everything cleaner and contaminant-free.

Special events and cleanups

Coloured refuse bags can be useful for special events, Brightly coloured bin bags can help encourage use, and are far easier to spot in a busy event. In community cleanups, they help keep roadside cleaners more visible in a variety of conditions.

Document disposal

In businesses that deal with sensitive information, coloured waste bags can be used to collect and securely dispose of confidential documents for shredding. High-opacity polythene bags are often chosen – to conceal the contents properly.

Pet waste and nappy sacks

Coloured bags are often chosen to distinguish pet and baby waste from other kinds of waste. Colours vary, but the combination of size and colour are usually enough to signal to others that the contents are not going to be pleasant!

Construction and demolition

Coloured bags can be used to collect and transport construction and demolition waste; rubble, concrete, bricks – that sort of thing. Heavy duty polythene bags in bright colours are used, to withstand the weight and sharp edges of construction waste.

And that pretty much covers it – everything you need to know about coloured refuse bags! But did we miss anything? Get in touch to ask us what you need to know, or to start your order for custom-made polythene.

Order coloured refuse bags for waste management

Order custom-made coloured refuse bags, for use in medical, food, and hazardous waste applications – or for enhanced waste separation.

Get a quote now or call us on 01773 820415 to start your order.