Is it just us, or can recycling be a little confusing?
We all want to do our part for the environment, but it can be tough to know the dos and don’ts of recycling when you’re just starting out.
Can I recycle this bottle? What about the lid? And the chocolate milk stains?
We spoke to Helen Andrew, Founder of Spare Harvest for some insights on how to recycle.
Along with her expert advice, we shed some light on:
- What you can and can’t recycle
- Recycling tips
- How and where to dispose of recyclables
- What food scraps can be made into compost, and how.
If you’re more of an eco-worrier than an eco-warrior, this guide will help you on your journey to green.
Why should I recycle?
We’re glad you asked.
You know the planet we live on? Well, it’s not used to all the waste we humans create.
And since we’re the ones creating it, it only makes sense that we make an effort to reduce its negative impact on the environment.
According to the National Waste Report 2018, Australia generated an estimated 13.8 million tonnes of household and other municipal waste in 2016-17.
And we’re recycling a lot less of it than we could and should be.
The report reveals:
“Compared with a selection of other developed economies, Australia generates more waste than the average, and the proportion it recycles is a little less than the average.”
The earth isn’t the only one getting hurt by waste. It also has a negative impact on our health. Helen explains how recycling is a win-win for the environment and us.
“Recycling protects the health of communities by reducing pollution in the air, water and soil by keeping waste out of the environment and landfills,” she says.
If you want to do your part, recycling your household waste is a great place to start.
What You Can and Can’t Put in Your Home Recycle Bin
An easy way to reduce your impact on Mother Earth is to simply sort your recyclables properly.
Not sure what’s welcome in your home recycle bin and what’s not? Here are some common household items that you can and can’t recycle.
Things You Can Put in Your Home Recycle Bin
- Paper: office paper, magazines, newspapers, junk mail, deli paper, envelopes (just remove the plastic window first!)
- Green, clear and brown glass bottles and jars
- Juice and milk cartons and bottles
- All plastic bottles and containers marked, but no lids
- Steel (tin) and aluminium cans and empty aerosols (including deodorant)
- Recycling metal
- Aluminium foil baking trays
- Baby formula tins
- Cooking oil tins
- Recycling plastic
- Cake and biscuit trays
- Cleaning product bottles
- Roll-on deodorant containers
- Plastic punnets (from berries)
- Shampoo, conditioner and soap bottles (including pumps)
- Sports drink bottles (reusable)
- Takeaway food containers
- Yoghurt containers
- Cereal boxes
- Paper plates
- Pizza boxes
- Toilet rolls
- Wrapping paper
- Washing powder boxes
- Recycling glass
Things You Can’t Put in Your Home Recycle Bin
- Lids of plastic bottles or containers
- Plastic bags or recyclables inside plastic bags
- Takeaway coffee cups (these are usually lined with plastic)
- Disposable nappies
- Garden waste
- Polystyrene (styrofoam)
- Bubble wrap
- Syringes or medical waste
- Ceramics, ovenware or light bulbs
- Plastic bags
- ‘Soft’ plastic (e.g. wrappers and cling wrap)
- Shredded paper and napkins (put this in your compost)
- Clothes and shoes (you can donate these instead)
- White goods/appliances
- Heat-resistant glass, such as Pyrex
- Organic/yard waste (put this in your compost)
- Car parts
- Sharps (needles and/or syringes)
- Foam rubber
Learn everything you need to know about rubbish tips and find your local here: Your Guide To Public Rubbish Tips.
5 Quick Recycling Tips
Keep these quick tips in mind when recycling items at home:
- Clean – A little bit of leftover food isn’t a big deal, but try to pour or scrape out as much solid or liquid as you can. And if you’re rinsing, use leftover dishwater – don’t waste good water on washing up your recycling! Don’t forget to make sure every item is dry to avoid contamination.
- Squash – Flatten cardboard boxes and squash plastic bottles to fit more in your recycle bin.
- Separate – Be sure to separate combined materials before you recycle them (e.g. if a toy’s packaging has both cardboard and plastic materials).
- Measure – Some small items can jam the recycling machinery. A good rule of thumb is to ensure the item you’re recycling is no smaller than a credit card.
- Unbag – Don’t forget plastic bags can’t be recycled, so don’t put your recyclables into a plastic bag before putting them in the recycle bin!
How to Recycle Plastic
From toiletries to cleaning products, a lot of our everyday items come in plastic packaging. Hard plastic can be recycled into other items, while soft plastic (e.g. sandwich bags and cling wrap) can’t.
An easy way to determine whether your plastic can b