With all the talk about issues with recycling here in Australia at the moment, I thought it was a good time to talk about better recycling. This is a update of a post I shared a few years ago, with some new tips and advice included. I’d love to hear your tips too!
Of course, we should try and abide by the reduce-reuse-recycle mantra to avoid any unnecessary waste in the first place. I’ve shared my thoughts before on why recycling isn’t enough previously, so think of these tips as for after you’ve reduced and reused as much as you possibly can.
If you need some more specific tips on reducing the plastic you use, and disposing of household items like paint and batteries then I’ve got you covered on those fronts as well! It is important is to choose the right kind of disposal method.
Anyway, enough preamble, on to the tips for better recycling.
Never Bag Your Recyclables
I feel like this one should go without saying, but unfortunately that’s not quite the case. You can do everything right recycling-wise, but if you put it in the plastic bag and then in your bin then the whole lot has to go straight to landfill as the workers aren’t allowed to open the bags to separate the recyclables. So, pop your recycling straight into the bin, bag free!
Check Your Council Rules
Every Council will have slightly different recycling rules based on who they use as a contractor and which recycling facility it ends up at, so in order to be certain about what you can and can’t pop in your kerbside recycling I recommend hoping on their website and having a look. Lots of Councils create handy guides for the fridge as well, so you could pick one of those up if you need to keep a resource handy.
Take Your Scrunchable Plastic to the Supermarket
Thin, light plastic wrappings (like from pasta or biscuits) can’t go in your normal recycling bins but they can be recycled at your local Coles or Woolworths in large bins they normally keep out the front of the store. This also includes that thin foil type packaging that you get on muesli bars and the like, as well as newspaper wrap, plastic shopping bags and the bags on the inside of cereal containers. It’s all collected through a program called REDcycle, and you can find your closest pickup point on their website.
Recycle Your Rigid Plastics
Whilst the outside packaging of things like biscuit packets have to be taken to the supermarket, the actual tray can go straight in your kerbside recycling bin. The basic rule of thumb is if you can’t scrunch it up then it’s good to be recycled as normal.
Some Food Scraps Are Ok
A little bit of leftover food crumbs are ok, like crumbs in your pizza boxes, but avoid big pieces of food. In particular, make sure you have emptied things like milk bottles and other drinks. You also don’t need to completely wash out containers – save the water and just make sure they are scraped clean.
Ball Up Aluminium Foil
Any foil you have from trays, pie cases and the like can be recycled, but it’s best to first ball it up before putting it in your recycling bin. This is because the foil can be mistaken for paper and end up in the wrong recycling stream (then making the paper stream contaminated), but if it gets balled up then it weighs more and is more likely to be picked up by the magnets in the separating process. It’s a small step but it really does help!
Avoid Non-Packaging Glass
In general the only glass that can go in your recycling bin is packaging glass (so jars and the like), all other glass including broken pyrex or drinking glasses, ceramic and the like cannot be recycled and unfortunately needs to just go in your general rubbish bin.
Don’t combine items
If you combine items by doing things like putting paper in your cans to save space you run the risk of items not being able to be separated. If this happens then the whole lot can be deemed contaminated and unable to be recycled. Instead, keep items loose in your bin – expect the aforementioned balled up aluminium of course!