Undertaking effective household recycling practices can be a huge step towards achieving a zero-net waste household. Before undertaking this challenge, I had very little knowledge of what was recyclable. Having surveyed local Brisbane residents on their waste management behaviours, one of the common responses was that they were unsure of which materials to recycle.
Perhaps you are in the same position? You want to reduce the amount of waste you send to landfill each week, but you’re not sure how? Well, chances are that there is actually more that you can recycle than you think.
Remember that every little bit counts. Even making the effort to recycle one or two extra items each week,
such as the junk mail from the letterbox or the empty air freshener can from the upstairs bathroom, helps to conserve precious resources from going to landfill.
Below is a comprehensive guide to recycling around the household to assist with your waste to landfill reduction.
What can be recycled?
Place items made from paper, cardboard, firm plastic, metal (aluminium and steel) and glass in your yellow-lidded recycling bin.
What’s the easiest way to tell if something is recyclable?
If it has the recycling symbol on the packaging
If you’re still unsure whether an item may be recycled, ask yourself: “What is it made from?” If the answer is paper, cardboard, firm plastic, metal (aluminium and steel), or glass you can be confident it can be recycled. Even if it does not have a recycling symbol, it can still be recycled in the yellow-lidded recycle bin.
Items that should not be placed in the recycling bin include:
- plastic bags
- food waste
- garden waste
- disposable nappies
Tip: Make collecting your recyclables at home easier by placing a bin for recyclables
in your kitchen, bathroom and laundry. Sorting your recyclables at the point of disposal will help you to recycle more.
In the bathroom
I started the zero-net waste challenge wondering how on earth I was going to dispose of the products that I use in the bathroom. It turns out that you can recycle the majority of it >
Recycle: toilet rolls; shampoo, conditioner and body wash containers; hair gel tubs; aerosol cans including those used for air fresheners, deodorant and hair spray; glass bottles used for aftershave, perfume or vitamins; empty cleaning product bottles.
Remember: You can safely dispose of all empty aerosol cans and containers that previously held household chemicals in your recycling bin.
In the laundry
Recycle: washing detergent boxes and all plastic containers including those used for washing liquid, fabric softener, stain remover and cleaning products.
In the garage
Recycle: newspapers, boxes, empty aerosols and packaging; all plastic containers and paint tins (empty and dry). Containers or tins from the garage still containing paint,oil or chemicals can be disposed of at Council transfer stations.
What can’t be recycled in the yellow-lidded bin?
Certain Types of Paper
Padded envelopes, photographs, thermal fax paper,
wax-coated paper, tissues, toilet paper and nappies.
Why can’t we recycle tissues or nappies?
Not only is it unhygienic for items containing bodily fluids to be processed alongside other recyclables, the paper fibres in these items are too short to recycle making it too difficult to recover any worthwhile material.
Certain Types of Cardboard
Wax-coated cardboard boxes i.e. fruit boxes.
Why can’t a wax-coated cardboard box be recycled?
Because the wax covering the box makes it too difficult to recover paper fibres.
Certain Types of Plastic
All soft plastics, such as plastic bags, plastic film or cling wrap, chip packets, toothpaste tubes, bubble wrap,
styrofoam or polystyrene products, straws and disposable nappies. Hard plastics that are not containers such as toys or toothbrushes are also not recyclable.
Certain Types of Metal (aluminium and steel)
Batteries, gas bottles, wire, scrap iron or tin, cutlery and white goods.
What should I do with other metal items that cannot be recycled through the yellow-lidded recycling bin?
Other household items including batteries, gas bottles, scrap metal or white goods are collected for recycling at Local Council transfer stations.
Certain Types of Glass
Drinking glasses, ceramics, window glass, light bulbs, mirror or window glass, heat-proof glass and cookware such as Pyrex.
Why can’t I recycle these items?
The glass used for bottles and jars is heavy duty and durable, while other glass types are designed
for specific uses which require them to be more fragile, transparent or heat resistant. When mixed with recyclable glass, other glass types weaken the new glass products, which is why it is best to dispose of all non-packaging related glass in your general waste bin.
Electronic waste (e-waste) is the fastest growing waste stream globally because people are upgrading their mobile phones, computers, and televisions more frequently than ever before. These electronic products are easily recycled and contain many valuable and precious metals, including gold and copper, that can be separated for recycling and used in new products. If e-waste is disposed of in landfill, these resources are lost forever. You can recycle your old electronics at any of Brisbane City Council’s four transfer stations located at Chandler, Nudgee, Willawong or Ferny Grove.