Did you know that for Western Australians to recycle more, we first need to start recycling better? Start by making sure you aren’t placing the wrong items in your kerbside recycling bin. And, even if you think you know right from wrong, we’re going to encourage you to get back to basics!
Let’s Talk Contamination
When it comes to recycling at home understanding why certain things shouldn’t be placed in your kerbside recycling bin can be a good place to start.
Contamination takes a number of different forms - yes, it means things like dirty disposable nappies, but it also includes many really common (and often recyclable) items that people are ‘wish-cycling’ like soft plastic packaging, plastic milk lids, electronic items and old clothing.
Common reasons why items are on the ‘do not include’ list are because:
- they contain substances that really will contaminate other materials such as nappies and containers with food still in them
- they are too small or the wrong shape for the sorting machines to cope with, which can sometimes lead to breakages (and mean recycling capabilities will be reduced on a large scale). This includes items like small plastic lids, hoses, rope and shredded paper.
- they are a safety risk to the teams collecting and sorting your recyclable waste – think flammable or toxic items like aerosols, gas cylinders and paint
- they require highly specialised recycling processes, with electronic waste and textiles being good examples of these.
WA’s Recycling Rules
Western Australia’s recycling rules have changed for the better in recent years. Today, there is a consistent set of state-wide guidelines.
But before we get to the ‘items’ themselves, there are three important things to remember when it comes to putting items in your recycling bin:
- Place items in loose, never in bags
- Rinse them to ensure they are free from food
- Ensure lids are off your plastic and glass items
What You Should Be Putting in Your Recycling Bin
Here is a simple list of what you can put in your kerbside recycling bin. It can also be helpful to remember that if in doubt it’s best to check with your local government or regional council.
|Plastic bottles||Empty, rinsed, lids off (remember, these cannot go in your recycling bin)|
|Plastic containers||Empty, rinsed, lids off|
|Aluminium cans and tins||Empty and rinsed|
|Glass jars, bottles and metal lids||Empty, rinsed, lids off (metal lids can also go in your recycling bin)|
|Broken glass||Small amounts only|
|Cartons (e.g. dairy drinks)||Containers with silver lining, like most UHT milk containers, must go in the general waste bin|
|Boxes (including cereal boxes)||Flattened|
|Paper||Clean, not shredded|
For a more in-depth list of common household items (and which bin you should be placing them in) why not take a read of our A-to-Z guide on using your kerbside bins.
5 Ways to Become an Even Better Recycler
So, now that you’ve got the basics under control, here are five impact-owning tips to help make you a recycling expert.
- Start thinking about recycling when you shop – be mindful about where your food and drink packaging goes after you’ve finished and shake up your shopping habits by prioritising containers that CAN go in your kerbside recycling bin.
- Start a separate collection for soft plastics – scrunchable plastic (e.g. plastic bags, chip packets, chocolate wrappers etc) doesn’t go in your kerbside recycling bin, but it can still be recycled. Learn more about this.
- Master which bin you should be putting takeaway packaging in – takeaway packaging (think coffee cups, straws and cups) are common recycling bin offenders. We’ve put together a whole article on takeaway packaging to help decode which bin you should be putting these items into.
- Embrace specialist recycling programs – whether it’s plastic bottle lids, textiles, hazardous waste or electrical waste recycling these items is becoming easier than ever so seek out specialist programs to help give these resources a second life.
- Join our online community – we’re regularly sharing tips and advice on Facebook and Instagram as well as asking questions. Why not give us a follow and in return we’ll give you inspiration?
Remember - not all plastics are the same
As a general rule, most single-use hard plastics (that is ones you can’t easily scrunch) that are bigger than the size of your palm are ok to put in your recycling bin.