Recycling 101: What Can and Can’t be Recycled in Australia

Making the effort to recycle your waste is a great way to make an impact on your local environment and keep sustainability at the forefront of your life. But getting started recycling can be a confusing time. Some things that you would naturally assume can be recycled can’t be, and others that you think are not recyclable should be placed in the bin.

Let’s dive in to the basics of recycling in Australia and break down what should and shouldn’t be going in your recycling bin daily. After reading this, you should have a good sense of how to be your most sustainable self.

What Can You Recycle?

First off, let’s cover what CAN and SHOULD be recycled in your kerbside bin.

  • Hard, rigid plastic such as takeaway bins, food trays, bottles, ice cream containers, etc. can be recycled.
    • Any plastic products with the identification codes 1-7 can be recycled.
    • You can always check with your local council for more specifics as to which codes they allow to be recycled.
  • Aluminium and steel products such as soft drink cans, aluminium foil, empty spray cans, and pie trays can be recycled.
  • Paper products can be recycled.
    • Soft paper products such as newspaper, office paper, magazines, and mail are allowed.
    • Hard cardboard and cartons such as cereal boxes, cardboard shipment boxes, and juice cartons are allowed.
  • Glass products such as fully empty glass bottles and jars can be recycled.

Now, let’s look at some more specialty items that can be recycled with a little more thought:

  • Things like batteries, scrap metal, old phones, printer cartridges, clothing, chemicals and electronic items can also be reused in different ways.
    • Clothing can be recycled by donating to a local charity.
  • Scrap metal can be collected and reused; just contact your local council to set up a pick-up service.
  • Printer cartridges can often be dropped off at office supply stores to be repurposed.
  • Electronic items, cell phones, and batteries also have specialty recycling capabilities. Usually, you will need to contact your council to find out the best way to dispose of them to be reused.

What Can’t You Recycle?

As far as your kerbside bin goes, there are some things that do not belong in there and can cause issues with the recycling process.

  • Soft plastic

    • This is a big no-no. Any soft plastic, or “scrunchable” plastic (including grocery bags, fruit nettings, plastic packaging, and dry-cleaning bags) are not allowed to be recycled. They can easily get caught in the sorting machinery and cause issues much larger than your single household bin.
  • Soft paper

    • Soft paper items such as disposable napkins or feminine products should not be recycled.
  • Organic waste

    • Organic waste can always be repurposed in a different way, but it should not end up with the rest of your recyclables in the kerbside bin. Things such as leftover food, animal faeces, dead animals, and other earthen materials should be separately disposed of in a waste bin if not specially recycled per the guidelines of your local council.
  • Plastic lids

    • Not only are plastic lids not welcome on bottles that are being recycled, they are also not to be tossed in to the recycling bin on their own. They will cause problems with the recycling process. This will develop waste contamination, which occurs when non-recyclable items are placed in the bin and renders all other waste useless to recycling.
  • Dirty products

    • A clean plastic bag is just as welcome as a dirty plastic bottle is in the recycling bin – not at all. Recycled material doesn’t need to be perfectly spotless, but it should be clean of food scraps and extra liquid when tossed in the bin. Organic waste in the material can also cause waste contamination or pose a threat to the workers.

Why You Should Be Recycling

First and foremost, the world’s population continues to grow along with the waste we produce whilst the area of land we have is not. This means that at our current rate of waste disposal, we will soon be running out of available space. In addition, the rotting waste sitting in these landfills fills out air with greenhouses gasses, which contribute to global warming. Beyond the damage to our land and air, the wasted rubbish can also damage marine life such as fish and seabirds.

Recycling conserves natural resources, saves water and energy, cuts down on greenhouse gasses, extends the life of landfills, and saves marine animal life. Start your recycling journey by contacting WestBin; we will work with you to transport your recyclable waste to our own Council Approved and Department of Environment Licensed Waste Processing Facility, where it will be properly and ethically recycled.

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