Recycling at home has become second nature for most Australians. In fact, around 90% of Australians consider recycling important to them says Garth Lamb, Business Development Manager of Re.Group. But do you know where your recycling is going after it has been collected? Is it actually being recycled?
For the last 40 years, China has collected foreign waste from around the world – including Australia. Earlier in the year though, they announced a ‘ban’ on imported waste, leaving the Australian recycling industry in crisis.
We have already seen the effects of the ban take place. Kerbside recycling collection ceased in Ipswich and more recycling is ending up in landfill and our oceans where it will continue to exist, longer than you or I are alive.
So, what can we do as individuals and a community to help?
How else would we know what to recycle, where to recycle it and why we are even recycling in the first place? Spokesperson for Planet Ark, Josh Cole says they have made it their mission to educate and encourage positive environmental actions.
“Planet Ark provides the biggest repositories of recycling information at a nationwide level in Australia, Recycling Near You for residents and Business Recycling for business owners and employees,” said Cole.
Planet Ark have also joined forces with the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation and PREP Design to create the new Australasian Recycling Label. Designed to educate consumers, the packaging clearly states what parts are recyclable and what bin they belong in. These labels can now be seen on packaging at places like Woolworths, Officeworks and Australia Post.
The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation’s (APCO) national packaging recycling label Program will help drive consumer recycling behavioural change writes Brooke Donnelly of @APCovenant in @WasteMR https://t.co/RgKtWJlJ5w
— A Plastic Planet (@aplastic_planet) May 21, 2018
Use information from organisations like Planet Ark to educate yourself and educate others to make the right recycling choices.
2. Recycle the right product in the right places
Contamination is one of the biggest issues recycling faces. By placing items that cannot be recycled in with those that can, the whole process can be affected.
“At a household level, the quality of materials people put into their bins is a really critical factor,” said Lamb.
“First, we have to pull it out at the recycling facility, which increases our operating costs. Then we have to pay for it to be disposed to landfill, which again puts a huge strain on the viability of recycling… That’s why we always say, ‘if in doubt, leave it out’.”
Not sure what you can and can’t recycle?
Check out Planet Ark’s Golden Rules of Kerbside Recycling or visit your local council’s website for full details of what they will accept.
(We will test you on this later!)
3. Stop using plastic bags & single-use plastic products
“Every piece of plastic made still exists today,” said War on Waste’s Wendy Harmer (there is some food for thought!).
According to an OECD report, 380 million tonnes of plastic was produced worldwide in 2015 – only 15% of this was recycled (imagine how much exists if no plastic created has ever broken down!). Where does the rest end up? See for yourself…
Just this week, a sperm whale has died after ingesting eighty plastic bags. So, what is the answer?
In 2015, Britain introduced a 5p charge on plastic bags which the Guardian has reported led to an 85% decline in their use within six months. As of July 1st, this year, NSW will be the only state left in Australia without a ban on plastic bags. Despite the ban in other states, Greenpeace says that Australians are still using around 10 million plastic bags a day.
Plastic bags and soft plastics cannot be placed in your kerbside recycling bins as they jam the machines at recycling facilities. Organisations like REDcycle are making it easier to recycle these items though. Now you can take them to the red bins provided by REDcycle at major supermarkets where recycling company Replas takes them and turns them into items like outdoor furniture!
What you need to remember…
Take a reusable bag with you when you go shopping.
Make conscious decisions to avoid plastic where possible.
If you do have soft plastics, keep them all together and place them in the REDcycle bins.
If this 12-year-old boy can live life without plastic, then so can you!
4. Join the Last Straw movement
Everyone has seen the horrific video of a turtle of with a straw up its nose. Everyday McDonald’s uses around 60 million plastic straws worldwide. Every plastic straw you have ever used will outlive you.
The Last Straw Movement is calling for a worldwide ban on plastic straws. Britain has started to pave the way banning them, along with cotton buds and plastic stirrers. Unfortunately, Australia will not be following suit at this stage, SBS reported but that doesn’t mean you can’t.
Stop using plastic straws.
If you need a straw, choose a biodegradable paper straw or a metal one.
Sign this petition to show Environmental Minister Josh Frydenberg that Australian citizens want the plastic straw banned.
5. Purchase products made from recycled materials
The whole point of recycling products is so we can create new products and avoid using virgin materials. Despite this, many products are still being packaged with new plastic due to lower production costs.
“Consumers should… help to promote the domestic recycling industry by buying products made from locally recycled materials. Businesses need to design their packaging for recyclability and work together to increase the amount of recycled content in their products and packaging,” said Cole.
To ensure that they can produce better recycled products at Re.Group, Lamb says the products they collect need to be cleaner and of a high quality.
“Our approach is to maximise the quality of the materials we’re recovering,” he said.
The cleaner the materials, the more valuable they become and less they have to charge for them.
Next time you’re shopping, try to remember why you’re recycling in the first place.
Stick to products made from recycled materials where possible.
Upcycling is a great way to minimise waste – the basic principle being that you take something old and recreate it to have a different purpose.
With a myriad of DIY and upcycle ideas available on the Internet, here are a few of our favourites:
Hey Homies! #ontheblog How To Make A Chrysanthemum Inspired Mirror with SPOONS! I featured this DIY in my #HomieHookUp Room Makeover. Get the deets to make these beautiful mirror for your home! Link in bio! ☝🏾 . . . #thehandyHomegirl #diydecor #mirror #pinterest #cheapproject #easydiy #diyhomedecor #artsandcrafts #chrysanthemummirror #plasticspoons #diy #doityourself #homiehookup #diyblogger #creator
— Randi Dukes (@DukesnDuchesses) June 5, 2018
Do you know this Bouteille table by @The_Upcycle_Arc was made from wine bottles, glass, motherboard of a broken computer and wood offcut, all waste materials from the environment? @johnkingjxr @TonyOElumelu @OmobolaJohnson #TUPA #UPCYCLE #buyNaijaGrowtheNaira pic.twitter.com/lCJhcTOBgQ
— simeonë Akikayo (@Siibillion) May 31, 2018
For the less creative, simply repurposing or reusing items like bottles and containers are easy options too.
Got anymore tips on recycling or upcycling? Share in the comments below.
What can you recycle?
0 of 10 questions completed
It’s time to put your recycling knowledge to the test. Will you recycle right or are you a contaminator?
You have already completed the quiz before. Hence you can not start it again.
Quiz is loading...
You must sign in or sign up to start the quiz.
You have to finish following quiz, to start this quiz:
0 of 10 questions answered correctly
Time has elapsed
You have reached 0 of 0 points, (0)
Question 1 of 10
You can recycle cling wrap in your home recycling bin.Correct
Cling wrap is a soft plastic. Placing it in your home bin will jam the machines at the recycling facility. Soft plastics can be recycled at your local supermarket in the REDcycle bin instead.
Question 2 of 10
You can recycle all glass in your home recycling bin.Correct
While you can recycle most glass, drink-ware glass is not accepted in your kerbside recycling bin. Check with your local council in case they have a location for it, otherwise put it in your normal bin.
Question 3 of 10
You can recycle soft drink bottles in your home recycling.Correct
Soft drink bottles are considered rigid plastic and can therefore be placed in your kerbside recycling. Don’t take these to the REDcycle bins as they only accept soft plastic.
Question 4 of 10
Food waste can be recycled.Correct
Food waste cannot be recycled and if placed in the recycling or left inside of your recyclables, can cause contamination. You can, however, put your food waste in a compost bin or worm farm!
Question 5 of 10
You can recycle paper at home.Correct
Paper can be recycled at home. Some councils have separate bins for their paper and plastic recycling.
Question 6 of 10
Coffee cups can be recycled.Correct
While the lids of coffee cups may be recycled, the cups themselves cannot be. Stick with a reusable cup (way less complicated!).
Question 7 of 10
You can recycle both roll on and aerosol deodorant at home.Correct
Both kinds of deodorant can be put into your home recycling bin.
Question 8 of 10
You can’t recycle batteries at home.Correct
Batteries cannot be recycled at home. They can be recycled elsewhere though – check your local council’s website for the nearest collection point.
Question 9 of 10
You can only recycle plastic bags in a REDcycle bin, not your home recycling bin.Correct
Plastic bags cannot be recycled in with your home recycling. REDcycle bins take soft plastics for you instead. You can find them at your local supermarket.
Question 10 of 10
You cannot recycle junk mail, newspapers and magazines.Correct
These are all usually made from paper or cardboard, so are fine to go into the recycling bin at home.