A significant part of sustainability is focused on making sure products have more than one use. The more you can use a product, the less you deplete the natural resources around you. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to ask yourself the question: am I recycling correctly? Believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way to recycle.
Don’t Bag Your Recyclables
It can seem like you’re doing the recycling centres a favour by putting all your plastics inside more plastic, but it’s recommended that you don’t. Many machines can’t handle plastic bags, so workers must throw these bags of possibly clean and recyclable materials into landfills. While you might think they can just open the bags and spill out the contents, that can pose a safety risk.
So, what do you do instead? Clean your recyclable materials to remove food and other debris, then put them loosely into your recycling bin for collection.
Familiarise Yourself with Recyclable Materials and Waste
To recycle responsibly and appropriately requires you to be familiar with what is recyclable and what isn’t. While many products might look recyclable, not all of them will be.
Products you can put in your recycling bin include aluminium and steel cans, all kinds of paper, glass bottles and jars, clean tin foil in loose balls, and plastic containers with code 1-7 printed on them.
However, food, plastic bags, clingfilm, takeaway coffee cups, polystyrene, foam, coffee pods, paper hand towels, and general waste are not accepted as recyclable in Australia. Waxed cardboard, any scrunchable plastic (such as from chip packets and muesli bars), and crockery are not either.
It’s helpful to familiarise yourself with this information so you can reduce the risk of sending unnecessary waste to landfills, or vice versa.
Clean Food Waste
Think about that cheesy, oily pizza you share with your friends on a Friday night. You might think you’re doing the right thing by recycling the cardboard, but is it clean enough? Food scraps can lower the recycling material quality, which means in such cases of food you can’t remove, it’s a good idea to pop those items in your general waste bin.
Recycle Your Foil, But Not Your Takeaway Cups
What some avid recyclers may not know is that your aluminium foil scrunched up into balls is entirely recyclable. As long as it is clean, it has an almost-infinite recyclable process that can promote sustainability. On the other hand, something you might think you can recycle can’t be.
Takeaway coffee cups have been a cause of contention for many years. Millions of them end up in landfills every year, and the cup’s composition makes them unsuitable for recycling. The only way in which these are recyclable in Australia (at this point) is through a Simply Cups programme. Do your part by investing in a reusable coffee cup.
Recycling is something that everyone can do. Now that you know what can and can’t be recycled, you can make more of a conscious effort to separate waste from reusable products in the future. Small steps can make a significant difference and contribute to sustainability.