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Are you making these common recycling mistakes?

Recycling is a great way to keep precious resources from ending up in landfill. However, when we recycle incorrectly, it could cause contamination and valuable resources to end up in landfill. To improve recycling rates and encourage best practices, we’ve compiled some common mistakes that Australians make when recycling.

1. Not cleaning packaging before recycling

Quite often, there is an assumption that packaging is sorted and cleaned once collected.

In reality, we are expected to rinse out food and other debris from them before recycling. This doesn’t have to be a very thorough clean, just a good rinse to get rid of all visible food and liquids. We should also allow the packaging to dry out before recycling.

2. Putting recyclables in a plastic bag

Always keep your recyclables loose in your recycling bin.

Recyclables that are in plastic or compostable bags are not sorted correctly and may end up in landfill.

Do not put your recyclables in bags

3. Not following aluminium recycling instructions

Aluminium is infinitely recyclable, meaning it can be recycled again and again. Recycling just one can of aluminium saves enough energy to power a TV set for three hours.

Recycle foil by collecting loose pieces and scrunching them up into a ball the size of your fist. They need to be scrunched up to help the sorting machines pick them up.

Scrunch foil into a ball the size of your fist before recycling

4. Trying to recycle the wrong glass

While glass is something that can be recycled in your kerbside recycling, it does not apply to all forms of glass.

Glass you can recycle:

The rule of thumb is that if the glass jar or bottle originally came with food product in them, they are good to recycle. Examples of these are pasta sauce jars, wine and spirit bottles, and sauce bottles.

Most glass jars and bottles that originally came with food product are recyclable

Glass you can’t recycle:

Meanwhile, any product made with toughened glass, such as drinking and cooking glassware, vases, and pyrex needs to be disposed of in your waste bin.

Broken drink glasses cannot be recycled

Note: There are certain councils that may accept all types of glass in household recycling bins (check with your council directly). This is because the glass is downcycled and used for roadbase instead of being turned into new glass packaging

5. Not disposing of e-waste or batteries correctly

Batteries disposed in your household bins can cause fires, either in the bins themselves, in the trucks that collect them, in landfills or at material facilities. Anything with a plug, battery or power cord is considered e-waste and does not belong in any bins.

Both batteries and e-waste need to be disposed of correctly and should not be sent to landfill. You should instead look for recycling centres and designated drop-off/collection points for you to safely discard of your e-waste

Batteries and e-waste can cause fires if disposed incorrectly

6. Trying to recycle contaminated pizza boxes

Generally, pizza boxes are recyclable in your kerbside recycling, but only if they are clean or uncontaminated. Many people throw their entire pizza boxes into their recycling bin, but if the bottom bit has food scraps or grease, the entire pizza box will be considered as contaminated and not recyclable.

Thus, the best practice would be to rip or cut the pizza box in half and only put the uncontaminated top half in the recycling bin. The greasy bottom half can be home composted or be placed in the general bin.

Avoid recycling greasy pizza boxes

7. Trying to recycle paper cups in kerbside recycling

Paper cups cannot be recycled in your kerbside collection due to their waterproof layer. We at Simply Cups have over 1500 collection locations to collect those paper cups and turn them into roads, lightweight concrete and sustainable building materials.

Recycle your paper cups at one of our collection locations near you.

Paper cups have a waterproof lining and cannot be recycled in kerbside recycling

8. Assuming kerbside is the only way to recycle

While kerbside recycling collect the most common recyclables, many other items that can be recycled are not accounted for in this collection method. Fortunately, there are many other initiatives and drop offs, like Simply Cups for paper cups like coffee cups, that are often free that we can utilise.

9. Assuming the mobius loop means a product can be recycled

The mobius loop is commonly used to represent that a product is recyclable.

However, there is no regulation or guidance on the use of this logo. A product with this icon on it may not even be something that can be recycled in your region.

There are no regulations and guidelines for the use of this icon

10. Not checking packaging recycling information

There has been an increased number of products that are incorporating the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) on their packaging. The ARL is a labelling system for Australia and New Zealand, that provides consumers with easy-to-understand recycling information on packaging. We encourage that you have a look to see if your product has the ARL before disposing of it, so you can do so with the most accuracy.

The ARL provides users with comprehensive instructions for different parts of a product

Overall tips:

Aside from utilising the ARL to improve disposal accuracy, we encourage you to reach out to your local council to learn more about recycling in your area. Through learning what can and can’t be recycled near you, you will be able to make more informed decisions in store and choose products which have an extendable lifespan.

In addition to that, we also encourage that you choose products that are made of recycled material to help support the recycling industry and create more demand for it.

Lastly, the best solution is always to reduce and reuse where possible.



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