Brisbane recycling tips to keep your sustainability streak strong

It's cool to carry a reusable coffee cup and use beeswax wrap for leftovers, and we've finally remembered to bring a reusable water bottle everywhere. And yet, many of us still feel like there is more we can do to be clean, green and sustainable.

Well, get ready – the world of recycling in Brisbane is about to get a whole lot easier to navigate, as we answer common recycling questions.

We've also got some handy recycling tips, to help you become a yellow bin guru and keep your sustainability streak going strong.

Can I put my recycling in a plastic bag and pop it in my recycling bin?

Reusing a plastic shopping bag might make it easy to collect your recycling during the week and carry it to your household recycling bin, but unfortunately plastic bags can't be processed by our recycling equipment (in fact, they can cause a bit of havoc). Instead collect your recycling items in a smaller bin or box, and then tip the loose items into the larger bin.

  • Tip: Collecting recyclables is easier with a dedicated bin for recycling in your kitchen. Go even further and place one in the bathroom and laundry, too. Sorting them at the time of disposal will help you recycle more!
  • Win: Don't despair over soft plastics like bread bags, biscuit wraps, bubble wrap, and pasta packets. While it's best to avoid them in the first place, you can take them to your local supermarket where they can be recycled through the specialist RedCycle program. Remember - every little bit helps!

Should I recycle old or flat batteries in my recycling bin at home?

Batteries of any kind should never be placed in your household rubbish or recycling bin because they could pose a safety risk to collections and waste processing officers.

  • Tip: Batteries can be disposed of for free at one of our resource recovery centres. Consider keeping an old shoe box or container to store old batteries in your shed or garage until you have collected a few and can transport them easily for safe disposal.
  • Win: There are several locations you can recycle your batteries safely including Aldi, Battery World and Officeworks. To find a location near you visit Recycling Near You.

Can pizza boxes be recycled?

While every Council has different recycling rules, in Brisbane, pizza boxes (even with melted cheese on the bottom) can be recycled. So next pizza night, pop that empty box in your household recycling bin!

  • Tip: Paper and cardboard is often wasted in landfill because people are afraid to put the wrong thing in the recycling bin. Don't hesitate to recycle envelopes with windows, paper receipts and shiny junk mail too – we'll take as much as we can to reduce waste!
  • Win: Cardboard packing boxes in good condition are one of those things that someone always needs – before recycling them, try offering them to neighbours, family or friends to reuse.

Should empty cleaning products containers, like surface spray bottles, be recycled?

Empty cleaning product bottles can go in the recycling bin – no worries.

  • Tip: Aerosol cans (like air fresheners, deodorant and hair spray) and washing detergent bottles can all be recycled too. Just make sure the containers are empty first.
  • Win: Look to buy in bulk, use refillable containers or opt for homemade eco-cleaners to reduce your waste even more.

Am I totally winning when I’m Marie Kondo-ing the kids room and putting their unwanted plastic toys in the recycling?

You must be feeling cool, calm and collected after removing all that clutter. Congrats. But plastic toys made of ‘hard plastic’ should not go in your recycling bin at home. Instead, drop them off to one of our four resource recovery centres, where the toys can be donated for Council’s tip shops if they are in good condition, and broken toys can be recycled for free in our separate hard plastics bin.

  • Tip: Likewise, any unwanted or broken bikes, furniture frames, used car batteries and gas bottles should be taken to your nearest resource recovery centre, where there are heaps of collection bins for things that need specialist recycling (not the usual household recycling).
  • Win: Recycling and donations at Council’s four resource recovery centres are free every day of the year for all Brisbane residents.

Get (Recycling) Appy!

If you’ve ever looked at a container and wondered if it can be recycled you’re a) not alone and b) now able to wonder no more. Download our free Brisbane Bin and Recycling app and always have a handy list of what is yellow-bin-friendly (as well as a personalised bin collection calendar and general recycling tips). You can also read up on recycling with our guide for households.

Remember, small actions add up

We know recycling can be confusing, but we all know it’s important. Remember, Brisbane has a great facility to sort through the materials you place in your recycling bin. As the saying goes, something is better than nothing. Do your best and you’re already making progress!

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Date posted:
Last updated:3 February 2020
Topics: green