DO YOU really know how to recycle?

If you've been throwing your wine bottles in the yellow bin with the lid still on it then you've been doing it wrong.

What about pizza boxes with food still in them? Wrong. Tissue box with the plastic rim attached? Also wrong.

Why you ask - most lids even those of coffee cups and yoghurt containers are generally a different kind of plastic and are processed differently (depending on your local council's waste facility).

In other words if you leave a lid on a bottle, which is a different plastic, it can hinder the process of recycling. They can still go in your kerbside bin, but just need to be separated.

The plastic found on your tissue box is considered a soft plastic along with plastic bags, bread bags, films around bottles (the advertising part), straws and biscuit and confectionery packets.

It is advised to collect these and when you're heading to your local big-chain supermarket like Coles, put it in the REDcycle collection bin. You can put them in your red bin at home, but the former is recommended.

People often get confused about what to do with the containers or items with food still in it like pizza boxes or even your brown Macca's takeaway bag.

If there's a lot of food or grease attached to it, dump it in the red bin. You want to avoid contamination - and that's a big deal.

"What I usually do with my pizza boxes is rip off the part with leftover toppings still stuck to it, throw it in garbage bin and the other half in recycling," says Jayne Paramor, deputy director of national environmental group, The Boomerang Alliance.

"I'd rather not compromise what goes into the recycling bin because if it is contaminated, the entire batch will be sent-off to landfill.

"It also leaves a bad odour in your bin."

There is a clear list on what can and can't be included in your yellow recycling bin.

Rip off part of the box with food in it and put it in the red bin and the other in the yellow bin.
Rip off part of the box with food in it and put it in the red bin and the other in the yellow bin.


Separate the lid from the cup before recycling them — the different materials can hinder the recycling process.
Separate the lid from the cup before recycling them — the different materials can hinder the recycling process.

"The vast majority of soft plastic can be recycled but we don't have the capacity in this country to do it - it is restricted based on our recycling infrastructure."

Ms Paramor also advises that people should cut rings found around drink bottles in half. "If they do escape the recycling process as a complete ring, they can harm marine like baby turtles."

Then there's the more obvious items that we shouldn't be recycling like clothes and nappies as they also contaminate and jam machinery.

"People think by putting their clothes in the recycling bin it will somehow make it's way to a charity, but no, it doesn't work like that," Ms Paramor said.

City of Sydney Council's waste strategy manager Kath McLaughlin said the most common mistake their residents are making is putting all their recyclables in a plastic bag, and throwing it away, with the plastic bag, which then gets caught in the waste machines.

Plastic bags need to go to REDcyle or in your red bin if you have to.

Most people don't give it an afterthought once dumping their recycling and while it all may sound a bit too hard, an extra few minutes spent on doing the right thing brings us one step closer to protecting our environment, Ms Paramor said.

"It really is everyone's responsibility from governments, to the manufacturers and retail sectors in what they're putting on the shelves, to consumers and being conscious of what they're purchasing and doing with their waste."

Australia operates under a federated model and under this model responsibility for waste lies within each State Government's jurisdiction - so keep in mind that this is a best-practise guide as rules differ for every council area depending on their waste management facility.

For more information about recycling standards contact your local council.



Yoghurt tubs - Rinse it, remove lids, put in yellow bin separately

Local papers - Only recycle the paper; plastic and rubber band goes to REDcyle

Books/ novel - If damaged, they can be recycled but the paper must be separated from the spines and broken down into smaller pieces

Tissue boxes - Plastic film, take to REDcycle bin; cardboard - flatten and put in the yellow bin

Detergent box or large boxes - Must flatten if cardboard

Staples from magazines/ paper - No need to separate

Tim Tams - the external wrapper goes into REDcycle, the internal tray can be recycled in the yellow bin, but this may be dependent on your council, some do, some don't, so worth checking

McDonald's paper bag with grease on it - If it's a little bit of grease from your fries, put it in the yellow bin, but flatten so it's recognisable as paper, if it's more contaminated, in the red bin

Detergent liquid bottle - Empty, rinse and recycle

Shampoo/ conditioner bottle - Empty, rinse and recycle

Bottle of wine - Separate bottle and lid

Cask wine - Flatten and recycle in the yellow bin; internal bladder - cut off the plug and put that in the yellow bin and take the soft plastic bladder to REDcycle

Coffee cups - Remove the lids, wash and recycle. The cup cannot be recycled due to its waterproof plastic lining so throw this part away in the red bin.



Cotton handles from paper bags - If actually cotton, then compost or try to reuse - recycling facilities don't handle textiles and things like ribbon can clog up the machines

Used tissue - Compost or fireplace, but not recycling

Clothes, fabrics, textiles - Jam machinery and contaminate the recycling process

Nappies - Jam machinery and contaminate the recycling process. Nappy recycling services available in Australia that collect and process nappies into new materials - contact your council

White goods like toasters - Don't do this



The number in the triangle identifies the type of plastic a container is made from, not whether or not it is recyclable.

#1 - PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

#2 - HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)

#3 - PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

#4 - LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene)

#5 - PP (Polypropylene)

#6 - PS (Polystyrene)

#7 - Other (BPA, Polycarbonate and LEXAN)

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