November 12-18 brings Planet Ark’s recycling week where local organisations come together with Planet Ark to focus on the value of recycling. A large survey conducted across Australia showed that although we are moving in the right direction when it comes to recycling and being mindful of the wasteful packing we use, there are still some common mistakes made when it comes to recycling at home.
Contamination can mean that a whole bin of recycling is shipped to landfill as there are the wrong items in the bin and not enough time at the sorting facility to go through every item. Here we have listed our 5 common recycling mistakes and how you can help divert more waste to landfill than ever!
Plastic Bags Are A Recyclers Enemy
Plastic bags are not all recyclable and even the ones that are can cause problems. They can get caught up in cogs and machinery causing repairs and downtime and us Australians seem obsessed with using them to tie up our rubbish. Any rubbish wrapped up in a tightly knotted plastic bag will instantly get sent to landfill as the sorters don’t have time to see what’s inside or to determine if the bag is made of recyclable material. Hopefully, the ban on supermarket carrier bags goes some way to reduce this issue.
Recycled Items Don’t Reach The Recycle Bin
Plenty of items are still hitting the general waste bin and not the recycling bin. This can be for several reasons; habit, not knowing and not having a recycle station in proximity. Check your local coffee shop and ask them if they have recycling bins for their items, and take a look at your packaging. If you see the triangle sign on the bottom of your yoghurt pot, its good to go into the recycling! Teach your kids to look for what can be recycled and what can’, to educate them early.
Nappies Are Not Recyclable!
It doesn’t matter how organic and natural your nappy brand seems to be if it’s a disposable nappy it must ONLY go in general waste and preferably in a nappy bag to avoid nasty smells, splits and overall grossness for your waste collection staff. If you are conscious about the number of nappies you are sending to landfill, look for more permanent and reusable nappy options.
It’s a common myth to think that because food breaks down, it’s fine to go into the recycle bin. However, too much food stuck to items contaminates the process, not to mention other items in the bin and can render the bin full of recycling, well, unrecyclable. Do your bit by rinsing out jars and pots where you can and removing the lids to aid in the sorting process.
Polystyrene Cannot Go In The Recycling Bin
Polystyrene quite often ends up in the recycling bin, but meat trays, meat wrappers and take away and burger boxes need to, unfortunately, head to the landfill. Do your bit by asking your local takeaway to switch to cardboard, or wrap in a paper bag, rather than use a polystyrene container. For your meat, buy from the deli counter or local butcher where your items will be wrapped in paper.
For larger items, choose to get them picked up from your local rubbish collection service who can re-use and distribute your white goods, e-waste and furniture items to also keep them from the landfill.
With a little routine and practice you’ll be sure to recycle more than ever before, and if you notice you need an extra recycling bin, contact your local council.