Sustainable living

5 recycling items that can stump Sydneysiders

Dispose of your unwanted goods responsibly. These are some trickier items that residents need help with.

Sydney doesn't know how to recycle clothes

There’s no denying it. We just don’t know what to do with our old clothes and other items around the home. These are 5 common items that residents get stuck on. They reveal the biggest recycling quandaries facing Sydneysiders. Drum roll, please.

1. Ripped or torn clothing

Cut and chop them to use as rags. Old t-shirts and socks, torn towels and linens make good cleaning rags, so no need to buy specific cloths. Pick flannel or other cotton fibre clothing because it’s soft and absorbent and usually lint free. Use them to wash your windows, dust your bookshelves or clean your kitchen floor.

Another fun and easy idea for old t-shirts is to upcycle them into reusable shopping bags.

Clothing retailers H&M, Zara and Upparel have garment collection programs for clothing or textiles, which they reuse or recycle.

Retailer Sheridan accepts pre-loved sheets and towels (any brand) at their boutiques or studios.

We'll also collect your old, unwearable items through our doorstep recycling service. Just make sure you label and separate them from any reusable items.

Where possible, avoid buying new clothing by repairing any damaged items and re-wearing what you already own. Try to be mindful of how much clothing you buy.

Find more tips for textile recycling on Planet Ark's Recycling Near You website.

2. Garden waste

Garden waste such as flowers, grass cuttings, weeds, and plants all go in your green lid bin, where they get recycled into mulch, soil conditioners and compost for gardens.

A green lid garden organics bin is a must-have, even if you don’t have a backyard for gardening. Use your green lid bin to recycle old flowers or leaves that have fallen off your houseplant. Even the smallest of indoor plants will need some maintenance.

Don’t have a green lid garden organics bin? If you’re a resident in our area, you can order one free. If you live in an apartment, ask your strata manager if a garden organics bin can be ordered for your building.

And remember, never put food scraps or produce in your green lid bin. Garden waste only for the green lid bin.

Garden waste goes into your green lid bin
Garden waste goes into your green lid bin

3. Electronic waste - anything with a plug, power cord or battery

There are many free ways to recycle electronics in our area, making it easy to keep these items out of landfill. From drop-off locations to doorstep collections - find a recycling option convenient for you.

95% of these electronic items are recycled. Components are stripped, then broken down into commodities and circulated back into the market for new products. For example, mobile phone components can be recycled to make new technology, reducing the need for mining raw materials. Some electronics are also repaired or refurbished, with data wiping, before being resold.

4. Aluminium foil

It goes in your yellow lid bin.

Small pieces of foil get lost in the recycling process. Wait until you have a lot of foil to recycle, roll it up at least as big as a tennis ball and pop it in the recycling bin.

You can recycle aluminium foil with grease. Same deal as food containers: no need to rinse, just make sure you’ve given it a wipe so it’s free of food.

Watch how we recycle foil wrappers from those yummy Easter chocolate eggs.

5. Kitchen pots and pans

Consider donating cookware in decent condition to a charity or offering them online.

If they’re at the end of their life, you can drop them off at our quarterly Recycle It Saturday events. These events are for residents living in the City of Sydney, Waverley and Woollahra local council areas.

Pots and pans, along with other small metal items dropped off at Recycle It Saturday, are taken to a local recycling facility and sorted into categories such as steel, copper, aluminium, lead, silver and gold. These different metals are shredded and sent to a smelter where they are mixed with other materials to create new products.

Published 9 June 2021, updated 21 April 2023