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

Cleaning out old milk cartons and bottles, as well as yoghurt, dip and takeaway containers, is a good idea. It means that your recycling is less likely to become contaminated and stops your bin from developing a funky odour. A quick rinse before you pop them in the yellow-lid bin is fine. Make sure items are clean and dry.

2. Tissues, napkins and paper towels are paper, so they go in the yellow-lidded bin

Nope. While you may be able to compost these items, they don’t go in your recycling. 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 for 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 you get from the supermarket can’t be recycled in your yellow lid bin. Why? Plastics bags and soft plastics may jam the sorting machines once at the recycling plant.

The yellow lid bin is just for rigid plastics. Avoid plastic bags altogether by bringing your own bag. Plastic bags and soft plastics that you can’t avoid can be returned to supermarkets for recycling.

5. Pizza boxes go straight in the recycling bin

Well, that depends on the level of contamination. Pizza boxes can be recycled in yellow lid bins, but not if they’re really soiled with food scraps. 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 such as soy fish and bread ties, 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? It can be recycled if wrapped into a tennis ball sized.

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.

If you have any more questions, ask Garbage Guru.

Posted . Last updated .

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