Facts on Recycling in Australia That You May Not Know

It’s a word that is used regularly these days as we’re repeatedly reminded to be conscious of the environment but what exactly is recycling? Put simply, it’s processing waste materials and converting them into something new – either as a raw material for manufacturing a product or converted into something else. Some surprising items that regularly come from recycling include: toothbrushes (the handles, not the bristles!), coffins (made from recycled paper or bamboo), and winter coats (the lining can be made from old plastic bottles). Certain companies specialise in recycling but nowadays it’s everyone’s responsibility to manage as much of their own materials as possible, and ensure that as much can be recycled as possible. So, when you’re considering skip bin hire in Perth, it’s best to separate all your recyclables so you get the most out of the space for larger items.

The process

The process of recycling includes the following:

– collection and transportation of discarded recyclable waste – either in designated bins or from special pick up points

– sorting of collected materials

– consolidation and transfer of materials

and finally, material processing so that something new is created, that can be put to good use.

 Recycling truck Perth

Did you know?

Australia is one of the highest waste producers worldwide. How much does that equate to? About 41 million tonnes of waste annually. This means that each Australia is responsible for approximately 1.9 tonnes of waste every year. How do we produce so much waste? Let’s look at some other numbers

  • As early as the 1800’s, Australian’s began using materials that had been recycled.
  • 3 billion aluminium cans are used annually in Australia – if you recycle just six cans, this is the equivalent amount of energy to offset the carbon emissions from a 17km bus ride or 10km by car. These cans are 100% recyclable so make sure that they are going in the correct bin.
  • Over 10 million new plastic bags are used in Australia every year, costing the government more than AUD 4 million to clean up the waste. What’s more, being surrounded by water, it’s estimated that plastic waste in the sea is killing over a million sea birds and 100,000 mammals every year. If you recycle one plastic drink bottle, that energy can power a computer for 25 minutes, so save energy, wildlife and the environment by taking care of your plastic.
  • Millions of tonnes of paper are used by Australian homes and businesses each year. Each tonne of paper recycled means that 13 less trees will be cut down. Australia is a leader in recycling paper and cardboard, with over 87% of it recycled annually.
  • The first Australian paper mill to use recycled materials was built in 1815. That paper mill used recycled rags to make paper.
  • Waste paper collection from households began in Melbourne in the 1920s.
  • Glass is the oldest form of packaging in the world, going back over 5,000 years, but it also takes between 4,000 – 1,000,000 years to break down if it’s sent to landfill. Considering that glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled over and over, it’s time we reduced the rate of glass ending up anywhere other than a recycling bin.
  • In Australia, approximately 350 million handheld batteries (laptops, mobile phones, power tools etc) are consumed each year. Only 4% of these are recycled, even though the batteries can be used infinitely.
  • Every week in Australia, 17.5 million steel cans are recycled. This is enough to build 900 cars.

So, as you can see, it’s important to treat your rubbish disposal seriously, so it doesn’t end up in a landfill, or worse, the sea.

Our Government is leading by example

The government of Australia handles the legislation, strategy and policy framework for waste on a national level. The National Waste Policy is operated by territorial governments in close partnership with the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Policy regulations and compliance are controlled by the territorial governments whilst the government coordinates with international parties to move the environmental agenda forward for the best possible outcomes. Local councils provide public recycling centres, kerbside recycling collections and also run resource recovery facilities, where people can deliver their waste for recycling.

Australian government

Kerbside Recycling

First introduced in Sydney in the early 1980s, the kerbside recycling scheme guided people to separate common rubbish materials including steel cans, paper, milk and juice cartons, PET and glass. The scheme spread out to other cities across the nation with a moderate level of success, which has grown by the year. The National Kerbside Recycling Strategy was introduced in 1992, covering a range of voluntary recycling targets. That made Australia one of the first countries to involve all levels of industry and to have a national voluntary recycling plan. Nowadays, skip bins have become commonplace in separating household and commercial waste.

What cannot be included for kerbside recycling?

There are some wastes that are not accepted by the local council. The most common of these are are broken drinking glasses, disposable diapers, plastic bags, ceramics, cookware, oven-proof glass, light bulbs, medical glass, liquid and hazardous wastes. Contact your local council to be aware of the materials that they accept, as well as those that are not.

Food and Lawn Waste – Organic Materials

Food waste makes up around 2/3 of what is sent to landfill every year. This decomposes and forms methane, a greenhouse gas, which is 25 times higher than carbon dioxide in terms of global warming potential. Organic materials such as food, garden and lawn clippings can be recycled and your local council should provide a bin. It can also include animal and plant based material and degradable carbon such as timber. These can be turned into gardening and farming products such as compost and soil nutrients. Human and animal waste can be turned into fertiliser!


In Australia, electronic waste is produced at three times the rate of normal household waste. This can contain toxic materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium that are difficult to dispose and damaging to the environment. The government has developed the National Product Stewardship Scheme, out of which came the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme allowing households to drop off their old electronic items at selected locations across the country for no fee. Other e-waste initiatives have been introduced for mobile phones, ink cartridges and batteries so check your local council website for details.

So there you have it. If you’re cleaning out your home, consider recycling carefully when you are getting rid of your waste. For everything that you can’t recycle, you can use a skip bin! For your skip bin hire in Perth, call Westbin now on 08 9249 1100.

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