HOW TO UP YOUR RECYCLING GAME PART ONE: Things that can actually be recycled

I have been pondering whether Australians are good recyclers? My workplace has recently introduced separate bins for landfill/general waste and recyclables with picture instructions in case you get confused… which unfortunately many people did – not so good! Pictures show that food scraps go in one bin; plastic water bottles etc. go into another, sounds pretty simple right?  It should be, but we always end up with non recyclables in the recycling bin and vice versa. If this is even a small indication of how Australians are recycling day to day then we could do with some re-education. So, are Australians all talk and no action when it comes to recycling? Here are some statistics:

  •  We are one of the biggest producers of waste in the world per capita.
  •  While recycling in Australia has grown extensively in the last 10 years, we only recycle 52% of the household waste.
  • Despite the average household recycling more now than 10 years ago, we are now producing more waste than ever before with the average Australian producing 2.25kg of waste everyday.
  • 48% of Australians are confused about what they can and can't recycle. 

So, to ensure that recycling isn’t just a buzzword and is actually part of our daily routine, we are working on a three part series with info on how to up your recycling game. Here are some tips for things you might not know are recyclable:

1.     Plastic shopping bags. Do you know that you can recycle plastic shopping bags at your local Coles, Woolworths and IGA? I didn’t until fairly recently! Next time you head out to do the grocery shopping pop your plastic bags in the recycling collection bin in store. Also, your empty bread bags, frozen food bags,  confectionary bags and rice and pasta bags can be recycled via the Redcycle bins at your local Coles supermarket.

2.  Batteries. To keep common household batteries and other batteries out of landfill, store old batteries for recycling and check out some of the following: 

  • Aldi Supermarkets in store Australia wide
  • Battery World Stores
  • Suez 
  • In Victoria, the BatteryBack program. 

3. Coffee pods. I'm a fan of Nespresso pods, however I haven't purchased any in quite some time after I learned more about their hefty environmental impacts, see here. Even the creator of the coffee pods has slammed his creation as bad for the environment! BUT, I was pleased to find out that you can actually recycle the pods in Nespresso Boutiques across Australia and they have partnered with TerraCycle to expand collection points even further. See online for details at Nespresso.

4. Meat trays. Recycling plastic meat trays was a recent topic of discussion between Nicole and myself, because they often don't show the recycling symbol. However, after reading multiple council websites, it seems that rigid plastic meat trays (those which are not foam and cannot be 'squished') are recyclable and can be placed into your yellow lid bin for kerbside recycling. Don't forget to rinse! 

5.  Toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, caps and floss containers can be recycled via TerraCycle. Simply collect your waste, download the shipping label and send to TerraCycle – it’s that simple. For those who are super keen, you may consider setting up a collection point in your office or local school.

6. Television and Computers. Thanks to the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme setup by the government in 2011, our obsolete televisions and computers don't need to end up in landfill. There are four organisations approved under this scheme including: Techcollect, Drop Zone, E Cycle Solutions & ESPA. For NSW and VIC residents, check out Suez where you can recycle all televisions, TV remote controls, computer monitors, laptops, iPads and similar tablets, speakers, headphones, cables and IT accessories, keyboards, computer mice, printers, scanners, web cameras and motherboards for free! Check their website for drop off points. 

7. Ipods & Mobile phones. You can recycle your old Apple iPods and iPhones at your local Apple store and as an added bonus you will get 10% off your next iPod purchase. If you're not an Apple fan, there are plenty of other options to responsibly discard your old phone including MobileMuster, which is the only not for profit government accredited mobile phone recycling program. You can search the site for your nearest drop off point or print the label and post them in for free! This also includes your mobile phone batteries, chargers and accessories. You can also recycle just one phone via Clean Up Australia, Clean Up Mobiles by requesting a free pre paid satchel and return via post. 

8. Printer cartridges. There are many options for recycling used printer cartridges thanks to Cartridge 4 Planet Ark. Check participating outlets to drop off empty cartridges including: Officeworks, Australia Post, Dick Smith, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi and the Good Guys. 

Unsure what to recycle?  Check of the clip below - Save a bottle from landfill. 

Do you know of something out of the ordinary that can actually be recycled? We'd love to hear, please let us know by commenting below.