Updated: Dec 2, 2018
Recycling, when done correctly, is a fantastic opportunity to reuse resources already in circulation rather than create new ones. Every piece of plastic ever created still exists somewhere and if we are not reusing it; it is either buried in the ground, discarded in our environment or floating in the ocean. By not only recycling correctly but also supporting the businesses using recycled materials we can create a 'circular' economy to move away from relying heavily on new materials being produced. It is estimated that 75% of landfill is considered recyclable - think of the difference we could make if we could divert those products!
The trick is to do it correctly as in order for a material to be recycled, it needs to be in good shape, clean and in the right place to start with! In Western Australia we are lucky to have a council bin system that is picked up weekly or fortnightly however changes have recently been made as to what is accepted in our yellow lidded 'recycling' bins. This is due to the restrictions placed on recycled material exports to China (and soon Malaysia) as well as the financial and time pressure associated with the processing of material from the bins that can be contaminated by things that shouldn't be there in the first place.
For all Western Australian council yellow lid bins the following is accepted:
Plastic bottles: soft drink, water, juice etc
Plastic containers: yoghurt, ice cream, milk, butter containers etc
Waxed paper cartons: milk, flavoured milk, some juice cartons
Foil: balled into the size of your fist
Cans: vegetables, portioned meals etc
Glass: bottles and jars
Paper and card: newspaper, catalogues, boxes, cards and wrap
Please note the following:
Everything must be clean and dry: Set it aside and rinse in your dish water after the dishes.
No small lids: Large plastic lids (yoghurt etc) are ok but milk and wine bottle lids are too small to be sorted by the machinery.
Flat: If possible, flatten all boxes
No tetra packs: Contentiously tetra packs ARE recyclable however the energy needed to separate the individual layers of materials that they are made of is too costly and the materials recovered have not enough value so they are removed and sent to landfill.
There are of course a load of other things that can be recycled that are not accepted into our yellow bins.
COUNCIL MATERIAL DROP OFF LOCATIONS On our council website you can see a list of local council resource locations (https://www.swan.wa.gov.au/Services-support/Waste-Services). Most of these will accept Green waste, old furniture, white goods and building materials. Check with each individual centre. We have a local recycling centre that accepts e-waste, mattresses, tyres and oil. Charges may apply so best to call first. I was lucky enough to score a tour of Total Green recycling (https://www.totalgreenrecycling.com.au) which is WA's only dedicated e-waste recycling facility. They process all e-waste: household appliances, computers, phones and tablets etc that is collected from around the state. They also accept drop-offs and regularly hold drop-off days which they advertise although you can also contact them. Most electronic appliances and devices can be 95% recycled for their material parts or may be able to be refurbished for donation or resale.
REDCYCLE All Coles and Woolworths centres have bins that collect soft, scrunchable plastics. Plastic bags, pasta and rice bags, chip packets, bread bags and the like are all accepted. For the full list see https://www.redcycle.net.au/what-to-redcycle/
TERRACYCLE A specialist recycling initiative, Terracycle has many programs and drop off locations that collect hard to recycle items such as coffee capsules, dental products, office waste, cosmetic waste and even contact lens waste! See their website for a full list of programs https://www.terracycle.com.au/en-AU/. Our store is an allocated drop off location for coffee capsules, dental, cosmetic and office supply waste.
COMPOST The average household throws away an enormous amount of green waste each year. Unfortunately the conditions of landfill are not great for food waste and it's decomposition results in enormous greenhouse gas emissions (https://watchmywaste.com.au/food-waste-greenhouse-gas-calculator). Aside from utilising all of your food, buying less and growing your own, composting your excess food scraps and garden pruning's is a great way to divert them from your landfill bin. Home compost kits and worm farms are inexpensive to make or you can buy ready-made tumblers and worm farm kits at your local Bunnings or good quality soil store. There's also a fantastic business in Victoria Park called Urban Revolution - www.urbanrevolution.com.au, who sell all kinds of cool eco things for your garden including heirloom seeds and garden tools. If you have no backyard or live in an apartment or unit there's a great initiative called ShareWaste which brings people who have chickens, worm farms or compost bins together with people who have food scraps they don't want to throw away! Using their app, you can plug in your location and the map will show you who is in your area - https://sharewaste.com/.
Lastly support the recycled products available to you. If we don't buy the products then there is no demand for the businesses using the material. If there is no demand then there is no support for the recycling facility etc etc. There are some amazing companies already using recycled plastic in ingenious ways. We fully support the local brand ONYA (https://www.onyalife.com/) who create reusable products from post consumer waste materials. For example their reusable bread bags are made from 10 used plastic bottles and their products are returnable once their life span is complete for recycling so each product can complete the full circle indefinitely!