We've all been there, the part where you are just about to drop that container into the recycling, but you wonder… How does this get recycled? Should I have removed that plastic window from the envelope? How rinsed does that tuna tin need to be?
We had the pleasure of sitting down with recycling expert Sandie, who has been running recycling workshops for over 20 years! Sandies is like a walking guidebook when it comes to recycling. Join us as she shares the ins and outs of recycling in Australia and the essential rules she has been following for her own recycling at home…
Okay, GFZs, it's time to take out the trash... responsibly, of course!
Sandie Shares 5 Keys to Recycling…
Rather than knowing EVERYTHING and every product that is a yes or no for your recycle bin, Sandie breaks it down into 5 simple rules to get it right quickly!
1. Keep it Clean…
So standing in front of your bin, the first question needs to be: Is it clean?
How clean? Simply put, we need to ensure we empty our food and drink content. So no leftover milk, chunks of pizza, half moulded yoghurt,.. This will contaminate our recycling.
Sandie advises to just give them a good rinse by using her leftover dishwater. It does not need to be sparkling, but it needs to be empty of food, drink or other contents..
Our message here is make sure it’s empty and if possible please, rinse that tuna can.
2. Keep it Safe…
The second question to ask yourself is if it is safe.
To keep it safe for our workers, consider whether you would want whatever is inside the specific recyclable on your skin? We must remember that people are also part of the sorting process, not just machines. I certainly wouldn't like an oven cleaner on me. Let's help by ensuring it's not sharp, containing chemical residue and better yet find solutions for harmful waste. We have some resources for you here.
Did you know things catch on fire in the recycling trucks and facilities? It only takes just one battery to do so, so batteries are a huge no no.
3. Keep it Simple:
Recycling is hard so this is to simplify it.
Glass: only bottles and jars can go in. Nice and simple and nothing else.
Light bulbs? It’s not a bottle or a jar, so no. Drinking glasses? It’s not a bottle or a jar, so no. Broken window glass? It’s not a bottle or a jar, so no (and this one should not make it to question 3 as it is not safe for the workers, question 2)
So, what about the lids? These need to go off, as it is a mixed material (glass jar and aluminium lid). We'll get to more about lids & mixed materials below!
Steel: only cans and aerosols
Aluminium: cans, aerosols and crushed foil
Plastic: only bottles & containers. So what about a plastic lid? Well that is a no, because it is not a bottle or container!
4. Size DOES Matter…
Now, this one changed the way I recycle
Let’s take a takeaway container LID. Is it clean? Yes, you cleaned it. Is it safe for the workers? Yes. Is it a plastic bottle or container? Hmmmm, no but the take away container is (and can be recycled),so why can the lid be recycled? Size matters!
For the machines to pick up on the plastic, it needs to be big enough. Sandie shows us a little plastic yoghurt container as a reference. If your plastic has a depth similar to this plastic yoghurt container, then it can go in the recycling bin. The lid has no depth to it so will act like paper in the recycling centres.
So for the last question, think about the yoghurt pot. Is the plastic the same or bigger than our yoghourt pot? Then it goes in.
What about glass...
The computers are registered to collect potential broken glass down to the size of a $2 coin.
Let's give another example here. Cardboard bread tags… Although they are better than small plastics and a great initiative, they are still too small for recycling. The best chance to get these through is to pop them inside another larger object of that material, for these cardboard tags go for a cardboard biscuit box.. The same applies to steel lids, put them inside a steel can. Get it to yoghurt pot size or above!
5. Keep Rethinking…
While recycling helps, it’s great to rethink other ways the item can be reused or recycled or could this particular waste be reduced at the source?
For example, harmful waste. Is there a way to cut those chemicals and waste altogether? (You know this is our forte). We have a solution for you here that saves both the chemicals and the plastic.
Key Take-Away Points…
Thank you for staying with us until the end! Here are our key points to take away from this one.
No matter which council you’re in, always just check in. This doesn't have to mean back and forth emails, just jump online or our friends at Recycle Mate are working to make this better and easier for us all through their app. You can even select your bins and council. We talk more about this amazing project here.
We hope you've taken away so much new and helpful info GFZs, if you have anything we missed, or any other questions for the beautiful Sandie we would love to hear from you firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy recycling! Thank you for cleaning up this Earth with us! xx