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FAQs

New to First Mile? Looking for extra information on business recycling? If you’ve got a question, just enter it below to filter our frequently asked questions

Why do I need business recycling and waste services for my business?

Your business rates don’t cover waste collection and disposal, which means you’re legally required to appoint a licensed waste carrier to handle your business waste responsibly for you. You also have a legal obligation to ensure your business recycles as much of its waste as possible.

We provide free official documentation, over 20 recycling services, and a suite of Service Extras to help you recycle your waste to the max.

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Can First Mile work with my business?

We recycle business waste in London and Birmingham for every kind of business and provide nationwide services for many high profile national businesses.

Get a quote to see how we can serve your business.

How much does it cost?

Our prices vary according to area and requirement, but they’re always competitive. For most of our customers, we work on a pay-as-you-go basis also, so you’re not tied into a contract, and you won’t pay a penny in admin fees.

We ensure our Benefits create a service that is excellent value-for-money, and we offer a range of complimentary Service Extras that will help you to leave a greener footprint and make savings.

Get in touch for a no-obligation quote.
Can First Mile help if my business has multiple premises?

Absolutely. We provide core recycling services in London city and Birmingham and can arrange nationwide services for larger accounts, working in partnership with trusted providers in those areas.

We also offer a RecycleBox service, which you can send to us packed with goodies to be recycled from any part of the country.

Get in touch to see how we can serve your business.

Do you offer recycling services near me?

First Mile provides London recycling services in 27 boroughs, as well as in Birmingham. More than that, if your business is in London, our vehicles are never more than ½ an hour away from you!

We’re also able to arrange nationwide services for larger accounts by working in partnership with trusted providers in those areas.

Plus, we offer a RecycleBox service, whereby you can post back to us all nature of recyclables from any part of the country.

Is First Mile a trusted provider?

Yes. Our drivers are fully trained and qualified, and we only work with destination partners whose environmental credentials pass our rigorous standards.

You can find our accreditations on the Homepage and our certificates and insurances here

Why would I choose First Mile over the council or another provider?

We genuinely care about our customers and the environment, so we make it easy for you to recycle your business waste in a way that is cost-efficient and leaves the greenest possible footprint on the planet.

Take a look at our Benefits and Service Extras to find out how we deliver our services, and our Company page to hear more about our mission and to meet the team.

How environmentally-friendly is First Mile?

We’re passionate about making our services as Green as can be! We believe in a world where you can recycle everything, and we’re constantly working on ways to make it a reality.

To begin with, we work closely with you to help you understand the services you need in order to recycle your workplace waste to the max. Then, we provide ongoing support with a range of complimentary Service Extras to help maintain and enhance this.

We operate a strict zero-to-landfill policy, meaning that all of your waste goes to generate green electricity and doesn’t end up rotting in the ground for hundreds of years.

Our carbon-neutral fleet of trucks, including electric and Euro 6, travels along optimized clean-air routes to reduce CO2 emissions, and we were the first to introduce a bike to make 100% environmentally-friendly sack deliveries in Central London.

Our award-winning pre-sorting facility the Sacktory® helps us to achieve a 66% recycling average, while our innovative RecycleBox and RecycleLab seek end-of-life solutions for hard-to-recycle materials.

Check out our various Benefits or sign up not for a quote.

What is Mixed Recycling / Dry Mixed Recycling?

Mixed Recycling or DMR is everyday amounts of clean, dry products.

Included: White & coloured office paper, brochures, envelopes, magazines & newspapers; paper plates; cardboard; plastics, plastic bottle recycling & packaging; tubs; pots; aluminium tins, cans & foil

Excluded: Food; plastic bags; crisp packets; glass; coffee cups; tissues & kitchen roll; plastic film; biodegradables; napkins

If your business generates larger amounts of any individual material that Mixed Recycling accepts, it's better to use one of our dedicated services eg. Paper recycling. This is because the more you separate, the more efficient your recycling and the higher your recycling rate.

Find Out More

What is General Waste?

General Waste is anything you can’t recycle easily, including the items excluded from mixed recycling.

Included: Expanded polystyrene; tissues; contaminated packaging; wood; napkins; food (but it’s cheaper to recycle this -and the right thing to do!)

Excluded: WEEE (electronics); batteries; toner; clinical waste

After collection, our award-winning pre-sorting facility the Sacktory® diverts any recyclable items to their relevant specialist destinations, while the rest is sent for incineration to create Green energy. Absolutely nothing goes to landfill.

Find Out More

Can I see where food waste goes to be recycled?

Your food waste goes to feed an anaerobic digestor.

Here is a great video

Do I need to sign a contract?

No! We work with most of our customers on a kerbside pay-as-you-go basis, while wheelie bins require a 90 day notice period.

Larger accounts may choose to sign a Service Agreement, or provide us with one of their own.

How will I manage my account?

For smaller businesses, through a personal login access to our portal, with 24/7 support from our customer services.

For larger ones, with the help of a dedicated account manager.

What are the frequency and times of your collections?

We collect up to 3 times daily, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year, at a time to suit your business and in accordance with any local time band regulations to ensure you’re not at risk of receiving any fines.

I don’t really know where to start with what I need. Can you help?

For the waste needs of many smaller business, our Mixed Recycling hits the spot, alongside Food and General Waste.

But we also provide over 20 recycling services, including those appropriate for higher volume or specialist items: the more you separate, the more efficient your recycling and the higher your recycling rate.

The best place to start is by identifying the kind of business you are and investigating the services most popular to your sector.

Then you can either sign up online through our portal if you feel you have enough information, or we can talk you any questions on 0800 612 9894 to help get you started.

What materials can I recycle?

We handle all waste, almost all of which is recycled, with the General Waste remainder incinerated to create green energy. Nothing is ever sent to landfill.

We provide over 20 recycling services, including those appropriate for higher volume or specialist items.

For the waste needs of many smaller business, our Mixed Recycling hits the spot. But the more you separate, the more efficient your recycling and the higher your recycling rate, so it’s good to use separate services where you can.

Where does my waste go?

Each of our Recycling Services reaches a different destination.

Check out our feature, ‘What happens to my waste?’ to find out more about each one.

How do I order more sacks?

You can order more sacks from the Portal

How can I teach myself and my staff more about good recycling habits?

We have a huge goodie box of Service Extras to bring you up to speed on all things recycling, from Top Tips posters through to gaming apps and tours of our award-winning pre-sorting facility the Sacktory®.

Can I recycle unusual items?

Absolutely. Our Recycle Box welcomes anything that doesn’t fit the profile of a traditional service, such as coffee pods. We’ll either send it to the right home straight away or to our one-of-a-kind Recycle Lab to figure out a solution.

For larger items, such as mannequins and unwanted furniture or sand and soil removal, our Clearances service is at the ready.

How do I improve my recycling rate?

The best way to improve your recycling rate is by adding more services to divert materials going into general waste. We have over 20 to choose from, and our team of recycling advisors can help you choose the right ones for your business.

They’re also eager to help you become even more sustainable and come armed with a full range of Service Extras all geared to helping you improve your recycling rate.

What materials go in which bins?

Visit our Recycling Services to learn the specific materials each can accept.

What are your opening times?

Our regular customer service helpline is open 08:00 – 18:00 Mon-Fri, supported by a 24/7 helpline for out-of-hours emergencies.

What is contamination, and what happens if my waste is contaminated?

Contamination results when materials not acceptable to an individual service find their way into a sack or bin.

The extent of the contamination depends on the nature and volume of the unacceptable material, but we have plenty of Service Extras, from top-tip posters and site audits through to our award-winning pre-sorting facility the Sacktory®, to help minimise the issue.

How do you work out my recycling rate?

Your recycling rate corresponds to your recycling reports and is based on the capacity of your order over the year.

You can learn more here

Why are your sacks made of plastic?

Because they need to be weatherproof and durable enough to hold their contents.

However, they are all made from 100% LDPE recycled plastic via our long-term trusted suppliers Abbey Polythene in Southampton, U.K.

What cardboard recycling containers do you recommend?

You can recycle your cardboard by 3 methods:

  • Flattened, bundled with a sticker: PAYG (pay as you go) collected kerbside
  • In the Mixed Recycling sacks: PAYG collected kerbside
  • In a Mixed Recycling wheelie bin: Fixed-schedule wheelie bin service
Why do you ask customers to separate rubbish into different sacks and then load it all onto the same truck?

All your business waste collection - Mixed Recycling collection through to Cardboard collection and used Cooking Oil collection - is collected onto one truck because this enables us to collect more during one journey, thereby reducing traveling distances and so reducing our CO2 emissions.

Once back at our depot the sacks and containers are sorted into their separate recycling streams, much of it by our award-winning pre-sorting facility, the Sacktory®.

(NB. Your food gets its own secret spot at the front of the truck- check it out when you next see one of our trucks!)

Do you take crate recycling?

Yes. We accept crates either as a pallet collection, where we can collect up to 2 items. Or, for larger quantities, we can arrange a clearance that takes into account the volume, weight and nature of the waste.

Do I need to rinse everything?

Yes. This will reduce plastics, tins, and foil from being contaminated. Dry crumbs are OK, but wet/damp food waste will contaminate. We recommend a quick rinse with washing up water rather than the fresh stuff right out of the tap.

Is glass or tin better for the environment?

Tins can be recycled infinitely, and it’s cheap to do so too.

Regardless of their shape, size, and colour, undamaged glass bottles and jars go into our glass sacks, where they can be recycled 4-6 times on average, after which they are be crushed and used for aggregate.

Materials such as windows, mirrors, drinking glasses and broken glass go into general waste, wrapped in newspaper or similar, to protect the handlers collecting them.

Which dry mixed recycling containers do you recommend?

Mixed recycling sacks come in two different sizes: Medium (5kg weight limit) and Large (8kg weight limit).

Or for larger amounts we have a range of wheelie bins with the following volume capacities: 240L, 360L, 660L and 1100L.

Order your sacks and bins through your account by logging into your account online [link to portal]. Or if you are not yet a customer either join today or buy bins ad hoc from The First Mile shop

Do I need to wash clothes I donate?

There is no need for clothes to be washed using First Mile’s clothes and textile recycling service. Once collected, reusable clothes are sorted, washed and sold in the UK and abroad, while dirty or damaged clothes are sent to be recycled into items such as cleaning cloths and seat padding.

Why do I have to recycle glass separately?

Glass separated from Mixed Recycling and recycled in a glass-only bin can be recycled into new glass bottles, while mixed glass is more likely to become damaged or crushed and is, therefore, only suitable for road aggregate.

And if you’re wondering where to recycle wine bottles, these go empty and unbroken into our glass bins also.

Should I separate plastics from cards in food containers eg. sandwich boxes? 

No, not to worry. These can be placed as a whole into Mixed Recycling.

Where do aerosols / deodorant cans go?

They go in Mixed Recycling, as long as they are completely empty. We don’t accept compressed gas canisters, due to their hazardous nature when compressed in a compactor.

Can I recycle foil?

Yes. If it is clean, pop it in your Mixed Recycling.

Why can’t I use black bin bags? 

Our team of trusty drivers need to be able to identify your rubbish on the pavement, and they do this via our branded sacks.

Our sacks are made from 100% recycled plastic that are transparent so that we can see inside and readily spot when the wrong materials have been put in the wrong sacks- a.k.a contamination.

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0800 612 9894

8.30am – 6.00pm Mon–Fri.
6.00pm – 8.30am Mon–Fri out of hours support
24 hour Sat-Sun out of hours support

First Mile Head Office
First Mile,
Screenworks,
22 Highbury Grove,
London, N5 2ER
First Mile Sorting Depot
First Mile Depot,
38a Minerva Road,
London,
NW10 6HJ

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