7 recycling myths

We bust common recycling misconceptions

Every council does things a little differently. It’s important to know what applies in the City of Sydney local area. We aim to see zero waste in landfill and we need your help.

Reducing your waste is the number 1 priority. Second to this is helping to build a circular economy by recycling. Here we debunk common recycling misconceptions.

1. I don’t need to clean containers before putting them in the recycling bin

It’s best to give some items – like milk bottles, yoghurt, dip and takeaway containers – a quick rinse before you pop them in the yellow lid bin. It means that your recycling is less likely to become contaminated and helps your bin stay clean and odour-free. Remove any food and liquids, and make sure other containers are empty and dry.

2. Tissues, napkins and paper towels go in the yellow lid bin

Nope. While you may be able to compost these items, they don’t go in your recycling bin. These items are generally made from recycled materials and the fibres get shorter with each use. Paper fibres can generally only be recycled 5 to 7 times before they’re too short. Also, if the paper has come in contact with oils or fluids these can contaminate the recycling process. Place tissues, napkins and paper towels in the compost, worm farm or red lid bin.

3. Electronics styrofoam packaging is plastic and belongs in the recycling bin

Even though it has a recycling symbol on it, polystyrene (styrofoam) can’t be recycled through the yellow lid bin system. If you’ve just bought a large appliance and have a lot of styrofoam, you can drop it off free or pay for a pick-up.

Styrofoam cups can’t be recycled, so don’t put those in the yellow lid bin. Best to avoid using those altogether.

Try to avoid using styrofoam.

4. Plastic bags can go in the yellow lid bin

Plastic bags and other soft plastics (that can be scrunched into a ball) can’t be recycled in your yellow lid bin. Plastics bags and soft plastics may jam the sorting machines once at the recycling plant.

The yellow lid bin is just for hard plastics.

Avoid plastic bags altogether and take your own reusable shopping bags.

Plastic bags and soft plastics that you can’t avoid can be placed in your nearest REDcycle collection bin for recycling. Look for the REDcycle bin at your supermarket.

5. Pizza boxes go straight in the recycling bin

Well, that depends on the level of grease on them. Pizza boxes can be recycled in yellow lid bins, but not if they’re really soiled with food or grease. While a little bit of melted cheese is fine, old crusts or leftover slices should go in the red lid bin.

Pizza boxes don't always go in the recycling bin.

6. Small items such as soy fish-shaped containers and bottle tops can go straight in the bin

If you have lots of small plastic items, collect them and put them inside another plastic container. You can leave plastic lids loosely on plastic bottles. This is because small, loose items can clog up the machinery at the recycling facility.

Remember: Keep like with like. Same goes for beer tops. Put them in a tin and squeeze the lid shut.

Aluminium foil can be recycled if wrapped into a tennis ball-sized shape.

7. If there’s room in the recycling bin, boxes can go straight in

You should break down your boxes because this makes room for other recyclable items in your bin. This is especially important if you live in an apartment and use shared bins.

Posted . Last updated .

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