In a time where waste and recycling rules vary among local council areas, new initiatives are being introduced and widespread misconceptions exist - it is not surprising that 81% of Australians are not confident they recycle everything effectively (Community Attitudes to Waste and Recycling, Pact Group, 2020).
The phenomenon of ‘wishful recycling’ describes the act of recycling an item, despite not being entirely sure it is recyclable, in the hope of doing their part. While this comes from good intent, it is a huge issue where mistakes will contaminate other recyclable items and the entire contents needs to go to landfill unnecessarily.
While it's better to follow the mantra of 'When in doubt, leave it out' to avoid this, the ultimate goal is that people feel empowered in their knowledge to recycle right. We've simplified what goes in which bin in our guide below.* These infographics can be printed, laminated and stuck to your bins to encourage positive recycling behaviours.
*Please note: This is in the broad context of NSW, Australia and you should check with your local council for more details.
Kerbside General Waste
Everything in this bin goes to landfill. If you are making active steps to reduce your waste by recycling and composting, then you might find that your red bin is not filling up as it used to. If you live in a house and own the property, then most councils allow you to order a smaller red bin that will save you money on council fees.
The most common recycling mistake is including soft plastics which get caught in recycling machinery. Avoid this error by not bagging your recyclables and using 'The Scrunch Test' - if the item can be scrunched and it pops back into the same shape, then it is hard plastic that can be recycled. Woo! Recyclables should also be empty and given a quick rinse.
Please note: A few councils also supply a separate blue bin for paper and cardboard, newspaper and magazines only.
Green bins can be ordered to recycle garden organics into mulch, soil conditioners and composts. Apartment residents can check with their strata if a garden organics bin can be ordered for the complex. Branches shouldn't be more than 1m long or 10cm thick, bundled and tied tightly.
The REDcycle Program at your local Woolworths or Coles is an easy way to keep plastic bags and packaging out of landfill and be made into new products instead.
Composting is a simple way to reduce the amount of food going into landfill, plus it will nourish your plants and garden. Check out your local council for any initiatives such as The Inner West Council who offers free Benchtop Bins and Compostable Bin Liners for apartments by request.
Return and Earn
Eligible containers can be taken to return point to earn 10 cents per container. This refund can be received in the form of a retail voucher, electronic refund to a PayPal account, or you can donate your refund to a Donation Partner. Containers should be in good condition (uncrushed, empty and with the label and barcode in-tact) and feature the 10c label.
Council Pick Up & Hard Rubbish Collection
Pick up of old furniture, mattresses, whitegoods, electronics and other big household items you no longer want need to be booked in with your council. If the item is good condition then it's worth selling or giving away to give it a second life before going down the disposal route.
Keep an eye out for our next blog post for more information on Free Recycling Programs and Drop Offs.
Content up to date as of 9/11/2021