To Recycle Or Not To Recycle…Recycling – a no-brainer, right? Throwing rubbish in the yellow and blue recycling bins keeps waste out of landfill and recovers materials to use again. Manufacturing products this way uses less energy and water than from scratch, which makes good financial and environmental sense.
Despite some of our best intentions, we are not as crash hot on recycling as other Aussies, with Waverley Council residents recycling only 36% of garbage compared to 64% nationally. As World Environment Day looms on June 5, it seems only fitting to start sorting our rubbish out.
This is not always straightforward. There are trickier items that cause confusion, leading to contamination issues in recycling bins and then problems at the processing plant.
With this in mind, here are some dos and don’ts to make it easier for all of us trying to do the right thing.
1. CAN IT BE RECYCLED?
Aluminium foil – YES – if scrunched up into a ball the size of a fist (yellow bin).
Aluminium foil trays – YES – as long as clean (yellow bin).
Cling wrap, newspaper wrap, biscuit trays, chip packets, straws, bubble wrap, cellophane – NO – these are soft plastics that unfortunately can’t be recycled.
Clothes hangers – NO – These can get caught in the recycling system and cause damage to machinery.
Electronic waste – YES – but only at collection points on Council’s E-Waste Collection Days. Call 9369 8000 for more info.
Envelopes (including those with plastic window) – YES – in the paper-recycling (blue) bin.
Food scraps – YES – but only in your home compost. Get your own compost bin or worm farm at www.compostrevolution.com.au.
Flower pots – NO – many flower pots are made from a lower grade plastic that isn’t recyclable, plus they may also contain garden chemicals and dirt that contaminate recycling.
Hard plastic yoghurt/margarine/ice-cream containers – YES – attach lids to the container unless they are larger than 5cm in diameter, then they can go in separately (yellow bin).
Lids – YES – Lids of the same material (e.g. plastic lids on plastic bottles) should be left on, otherwise they can fall through the screens at the start of the process and not get recycled. Lids of a different material type (e.g. metal lids on glass jars) should be removed and put in the recycling bin separately.
Light plastic food containers – YES – (yellow bin).
Metal jar lids, beer bottle caps and wine bottle screw caps – YES – (yellow bin).
Paper towels – NO – because they reduce the quality of recycled paper, and because it is a health issue for people sorting on the processing line.
Photographs – NO – due to the chemicals and the high ‘wet strength’ material used.
Pizza boxes – YES – as long as they’re not too greasy (blue bin).
Plastic bags – NO – they play havoc with the recycling machinery. Avoid bagging recyclables in plastic bags to put in the recycling bin.
Pringles containers – NO – These contain different materials (cardboard, metal and plastic) and it’s too difficult to separate them in the recycling process.
Shampoo, sauce, household cleaning bottles – YES – if empty (yellow bin).
Take-away coffee and drink cups – NO – There are many different types of take-away cups and while some are recyclable and compostable, others don’t break down in the paper pulping process due to their high ‘wet strength’ material content.
Tissue boxes – YES – (blue bin).
2. DO I NEED TO WASH OUT JARS AND OTHER RECYCLABLES?
Yes. It’s best to empty out and rinse containers and jars before putting them in the yellow and blue bins, especially cans of food. They don’t need to be squeaky clean though.
3. SHOULD I CRUSH OR COMPACT ITEMS FOR RECYCLING?
No, it’s not necessary (aside from large cardboard boxes). Items are easier to sort if they aren’t crushed.
For more info on recycling and disposal of unusual and bulkier items, visit