We all know recycling is important and we all want to feel like we are doing our part in minimising our impact on the environment. However, did you know that most Australians are unaware that they are not recycling properly? Improper recycling can lead to contaminating an entire load of recyclables which means it gets sent to landfill, defeating the purpose of recycling in the first place. It certainly puts a damper on our good intentions when it comes to recycling, and something as simple as excessive grease in a pizza box can lead to unwanted contamination.
It is important to know how to use our yellow-topped bins properly, along with reducing and reusing waste where we can. If you choose to recycle, below are just a few tips on how to make sure you’re doing it right.
Plastic Bags are Not Recyclable
One of the most common mistakes people make is tying up their recyclables in a plastic bag and putting it in the yellow bin. As plastic is not recyclable, this leads to plastic getting caught in the waste machines or you risk contaminating the whole recycling load, which will often end up in landfill. Plastic bags belong in REDcycle collection bins, should be reused, or if necessary, disposed of in the red bin. The only exception which does allow recycling of plastic bag is where various councils have provided such a scheme. There are a few places doing this with Coles or Woolworths as the nominated drop off points.
Disposing of Coffee Cups
Many people are under the misconception that all coffee cups belong in the recycling bin. What most people don’t know is that the majority of coffee cups are lined with a membrane of plastic to make them waterproof, but this also makes them unrecyclable.
The best way to get your caffeine hit and do your part for the environment is to invest in a keep cup and remember to bring it to your favourite café each morning. If you don’t have one on hand, try to have your coffee dine-in in a ceramic cup.
Set up a Recycling System at Home
To make life easier, especially if you have a family, it may be useful to set up your own recycling system at home. This can mean having two separate bins for the family to use – one for red bin disposal and one for recyclables to go in the yellow bin. It is also helpful to sit down with the family and educate the kids on what can be recycled and what belongs in general waste.
Rinsing out Jars and Containers
While not necessarily a deal breaker, food scraps, grease and sauces can contaminate the recyclables. It is best to rinse them out if you can, but in general, they should be dry and empty before putting them in the yellow bin. If there are significant food scraps like cheese stuck to a pizza box that you cannot clean off, it may be best to dispose of them in general waste rather than risk contamination.
If you are unsure about what can or cannot go into your recycling bin, you can contact your local council or a resource recovery centre like Solo for more information. Solo Resource Recovery is a waste management company that specialises in tailor-made waste management solutions for households and businesses. Services such as skip bin hire and household recycling are offered along with commercial waste management solutions for businesses of all sizes. If you would like to chat more about your recycling needs, Solo can be contacted on 1300 46 76 56.