Busting Brisbane’s biggest recycling myths

We all want to make a difference and support a cleaner and greener Brisbane by taking small actions in our homes, like recycling. Yet, despite our good intentions, we often get stuck wondering what can be recycled, where it goes once collected every fortnight, and why it matters.

Let's bust some of the most common misconceptions about recycling in Brisbane!

Myth 1: If I put one wrong thing in my recycling bin, I’ve ruined a whole truck of recycling

Myth busted

Your recyclables are taken to Visy’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF) and are sorted into different categories – paper, cardboard, plastics, glass and metal. Any non-recyclable items or ‘contaminants’ are detected by the sophisticated mechanical sorters and removed.

So don't worry if one non-recyclable item made its way into your recycling bin and get familiar with all the items you can recycle in our handy (and free) Brisbane recycling app.

Did you know?

The top five items that should not go into your recycling bin are:

  1. Soft plastics
  2. Food waste
  3. Garden waste
  4. Disposable nappies
  5. Textiles

Myth 2: Recycling doesn’t matter because it all ends up in land fill

Myth busted

Council collects your recycling with our dedicated fleet of recycling trucks. In 2017-18, Council collected approximately 90,000 tonnesof paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and metals from Brisbane households, which were then sorted and prepared for reprocessing into new products and packaging.

Brisbane residents are great at recycling but we can do more! In 2017-18, approximately 34,490 tonnes of paper products were lost to landfill from incorrect disposal.

Myth 3: I don’t need to recycle – Brisbane has heaps of space to bury our waste

Myth busted

Our current landfill site is nearing capacity and any future sites or alternative waste technologies that we use will require land that is not necessarily close to our city.

Committing to reducing waste and recycling all that we can maximises the resources and materials already in use while conserving resources for future generations. Recycling is also one of the easiest ways you can contribute to battle large environmental issues by helping to conserve water, reduce energy use, reduce greenhouse emissions, reduce reliance on landfill, conserve natural habitats and more!

Myth 4: If there is no recycling symbol on the packaging it can’t be recycled

Myth busted

While the triangular symbol made from arrows (also known as the Mobius loop or Australasian recycling label) indicates a product is recyclable, it isn’t always found on all packaging that can be recycled. A good guide to follow when considering whether an item is recyclable or not is to ask yourself what the item is made from. If it’s made from paper, cardboard, firm plastic, aluminium and steel or glass it can definitely be recycled in your Council recycling bin.

Did you know?

While items like electronic waste, printer cartridges, mobile phones and empty cosmetic containers can’t be placed in your recycling bin at home, there are specialist collection services like Terracycle, Mobile Muster and Planet Ark that can help you find recycling solutions so they are not sent to landfill. Download the Brisbane recycling app to find out what is recyclable.

Myth 5: Items needs to be washed and packed into a plastic bag before being placed in my recycling bin

Myth busted

You do not need to rinse containers before you place them in your recycling bin, although doing so may reduce odours. All recyclable materials should be placed loosely in the recycling bin as plastic bags can’t be opened at the materials recovery facility (all materials that are inside bags unfortunately get sent to landfill).

Myth 6: You can dispose of all household glass in the yellow recycling bin

Myth busted

Different forms of glass have different melt temperatures. Therefore, it is important that only glass containers with a recyclable symbol on them are placed in the recycling bin. Other glassware (for example, Pyrex) will need to be placed in general waste.

Check what recyclables are accepted at Council’s resource recovery centres and visit the Recycling near you website for more details.

Myth 7: If a container has been used to store chemicals, it can't be recycled

Myth busted

You can recycle empty bleach containers, aerosol cans and deodorant sprays. All other containers can be taken to a free household hazardous waste drop off day held four times a year at Council’s resource recovery centre’s.

Ready to up the ante on your recycling efforts?

Increase your recycling capacity by ordering a larger yellow recycling bin from council for free.

**This blog was updated in December 2023.**

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Topics: green

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