Recycle What?

Recycle What?

Recycle What?A question that pops up all the time in this household: what are we allowed to put in the recycle bin and and what isn't?

The first item that jumped out in an excellent article by Benjamin Preiss (TheAge) was not to put recycling in plastic bags, which being honest, we do all the time.

Then there was don't worry about rinsing cans of food. Basically, if its small then don't worry. Pizza and other larger solid food items are a no-no and should go into the waste bin.

Every council is different. Here in the City of Darebin, they have an excellent section on their web site about: RUBBISH, RECYCLING AND CLEANING.

An excellent program in Darebin was 'Plastic Free July' that aims to reduce the usage of single-use plastics. Only trouble is: we only discovered it in August. And there lies the problem. With so much information out there, it is tough for councils to get the message through.

So, "check your local council web site".

What can I put in my Recycling Bin? (Darebin Council)

Melbourne Hard plastic (milk bottles, soft drink bottles, ice cream tubs, takeaway, detergent, yoghurt, plant pots)
Melbourne Paper and cardboard (office, coffee cups, pizza boxes, egg cartons, newspaper and magazines)
Melbourne Tetra packs such as milk and juice cartons
Melbourne Unbroken glass bottles and jars (no Pyrex or broken glass)
Melbourne Aluminium and steel items (drink cans, food tins, cooking oil, foil trays)
Melbourne Clean pots, pans and other metal cooking dishes (even with plastic handles).

What Can I Put In My Recycling Bin? Full List (PDF)

What must stay OUT of my Recycling Bin?

Melbourne No plastic bags or any soft plastic (bread bags, pasta packets, wrappers)
Melbourne No polystyrene or Styrofoam
Melbourne No food scraps
Melbourne No fabric
Melbourne No light globes
Melbourne No batteries
Melbourne No electrical goods
Melbourne No ceramics, crockery or Pyrex
Melbourne No smoke detectors.

August 2016 | Check your council web site.

How to stop your recyclables ending up in landfill

If you think you are doing your bit for the environment by recycling at home, you could be mistaken.

Household-recycled products that have been contaminated contribute to much of the waste in landfill. And you could be part of the problem.

Deakin University recycling expert Trevor Thornton estimates the proportion of recyclables that wind up in landfill from households ranges from 10 to 30 per cent, depending on the council area.

Although contamination levels have fallen significantly in recent years, some main problems still persist. Good intentions are not enough. Here are some of the ways to improve your recycling habits.

Don't bag it

Placing recycling materials, including bottles and newspapers, in plastic bags and popping them in the bin can result in them being sent to landfill.

Dr Thornton says this is among the most common errors in household recycling.

"Recycling facilities won't open those bags and take out the contents,"he says.

He says the amount of food and organic waste in landfill that could be composted has reached up to 40 per cent in some cases.

An audit Dr Thornton conducted for one Victorian council found the amount of contamination of recyclable goods reached about 8.5 per cent by weight, which, he says, is typical across the state.

He says this level of contamination can have far-reaching consequences for recycling downstream.

Buyers of recycled paper may reject it if the level of contamination is considered too high, he says.

Laziness is still a problem

Dr Thornton says that although some councils now offer garden waste bins, too many people are still using their recycling bin to dispose of weeds and other garden refuse.

"Some people are just not doing the right thing,"he says.

Other contaminants he discovered in his audit included timber, nappies, bricks, rubber and hoses.

Don't sweat the small stuff

Rinsing cans of food so they sparkle will not necessarily help the recycling process. Unwashed, empty cans of tomatoes or baked beans are fine.

But that does not mean that mounds of food waste can go out with the recycling. Sustainability Victoria advises that solid scraps, including pizza and food leftovers, should be removed before putting items in the recycling bin.

You could be under surveillance

Some councils are snooping inside residents' bins to make sure they are recycling properly. The City of Port Phillip, south of Melbourne's CBD, is among those conducting "flip top"audits. Port Phillip mayor Bernadene Voss says council inspectors simply open the lid and make a note of what is inside.

"No content in the bin is touched or moved,"she says.

While Port Phillip residents will not be fined, they may receive a "helpful"information booklet in their mailbox if they are caught doing the wrong thing.

The way forward

Financial incentives will encourage greater levels of recycling, according to Total Environment Centre executive director Jeff Angel.

He is calling for the introduction of "reverse vending machines"where containers can be deposited for a small amount of cash. Mr Angel says this will also reduce contamination rates, because the containers will already be separated from other materials.

Wyndham City, in the south-western suburbs of Melbourne, has already announced plans to install the reverse vending machines in the municipality. The units will allow residents to deposit plastic bottles in return for vouchers and competition entries.

How to stop your recyclables ending up in landfill
By Benjamin Preiss |

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Recycle What?

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