Be a recycling champion
Recycling is one of the easiest things you can do to help the environment. By making products from recycled materials instead of new materials we:
- reduce landfill,
- save energy,
- conserve natural resources, and
- minimise the amount of greenhouse gases created in the production of new materials.
Victorians are great recyclers, but we can improve. Household rubbish bins often contain items that could have been recycled. And our recycling bins can be contaminated with non-recyclable items that cause problems during sorting.
Get to know what can be recycled to make sure you’re getting it right every time.
The top items we get wrong
- Coffee cups. In most areas of Victoria, the hard plastic lid can be recycled but the coffee cup itself should be put in the rubbish bin. Most cups are a mix of plastic and paper and only a few councils in Victoria can currently collect them for recycling. Check with your council or better still, take a reusable cup!
- Plastic bags. Recycle by taking to a plastic bag collection bin at your local Coles or Woolworths supermarkets. Some local councils, including Boroondara, Cardinia, Hobsons Bay and Moreland can accept plastic bags in your household recycling bin – check your council website for details. A better option is to carry a reusable bag to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags.
- Foil. Recyclable when scrunched in a ball larger than a golf ball, which allows the foil to be sorted correctly. Aluminium is almost indefinitely recyclable.
- Soft plastics (plastic wrappers, cling wrap). Any soft plastic that can be scrunched into a ball can be recycled along with your plastic bags at the sites mentioned above. Buying products without excess plastic packaging or using reusable containers will help to reduce plastic waste.
How does recycling work?
Your recycling helps to turn used products into new items without needing to use up new materials. But it takes a coordinated effort between local councils, recycling and processing facilities, and waste management groups, as well as the companies that turn raw recycled materials into new products.
After your recycling is collected by a truck, it’s taken to a sorting facility called a Materials Recovery Facility. Here, your recycling is loaded onto conveyor belts where it’s sorted into categories using a series of high tech machines. The machines cannot sort some items such as bagged recyclables and food scraps. These need to be sorted by hand, which is difficult and time consuming.
Once the recycling is sorted into categories, it is transported to different processing facilities where new products can be made.
Paper and cardboard can become new cardboard boxes, recycled aluminium can turn into soft drink cans and plastic can turn up as a new household wheelie bin.
Being careful to recycle every item correctly ensures the recycling process is as efficient as possible. It’s good for the environment and for the sustainability of the Victorian community.
What can be recycled?
The guide below shows the items that are recyclable everywhere in Victoria.
It’s important to note that recycling services differ from council to council. Check with your council for the full list of items that can be recycled in your area.
Recyclable in your home recycling bin
- Aerosol cans (including deodorant)
- Aluminium foil baking trays
- Baby formula tins
- Cooking oil tins
- Food and drink cans
- Pet food cans
- Butcher / deli paper
- Cartons (milk, juice etc)
- Cereal boxes
- Long life cartons
- Junk mail, newspapers and magazines
- Paper plates
- Phone books
- Pizza boxes
- Toilet rolls
- Wrapping paper
- Washing powder boxes
- Bottles and jars (food, drink, vitamins and medicine)
- Cake and biscuit trays*
- Cleaning product bottles
- Deodorant (roll on)*
- Drink bottles (juice, milk)
- Punnets (berry)
- Shampoo, conditioner and soap bottles (incl. pumps)
- Sports drink bottles (reusable)*
- Take away food containers*
- Yoghurt containers
- Broken crockery, glass homewares, Pyrex
Recyclable at other sites
- Plastic shopping bags – check with your council or recycle in plastic bag collection bins at major supermarkets.
- Soft plastic packaging (cling wrap, frozen vegetable bags, lolly wrappers) – check with your council or recycle in plastic bag collection bins at major supermarkets.
- Polystyrene – recycle at drop-off sites around Victoria. Find locations.
- Batteries – recycle at drop-off sites around Victoria. Find locations.
- Paint – recycle at drop-off sites around Victoria. Find locations.
- Toxic chemicals – recycle at a Detox Your Home collection. Find locations.
- E-waste – recyclable in some councils only. Find locations.
Top recycling tips
- Never put your recycling in plastic bags – it won’t be able to be sorted correctly so may end up in landfill.
- Items don’t need to be spotless but you do need to remove any food like baked on cheese and excessive oil from kitchen recyclables.
- Always check your council website before including soft plastic and plastic bags in your home recycling bin – they can cause major issues at recycling centres. Plastic bags and plastic that you can scrunch in a ball can be recycled at major supermarkets.
- Contrary to popular belief, the small triangle on plastic goods does not indicate that an item is recyclable. Use the scrunch test instead.
- Recycle from every room – many bathroom products for example can be recycled.
Find information on recycling in your council area including:
- Bin collection days,
- What each bin is for,
- If you can get a bigger or smaller bin, and
- Where to recycle other items such as batteries, mobile phones and computers.
Redcycle – find collection points for plastic bags and other soft plastics.
‘Detox Your Home’ chemical collection – find permanent and mobile collection points for toxic household chemicals.
This article originally appeared on the Sustainability Victoria website, and has been reproduced on CWS courtesy of SV.
Image (lead): highwaystarz / 123RF Stock Photo
Image: photka / 123RF Stock Photo