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 each fortnight, and why it matters.

Luckily, we’ve asked our curious eco-conscious detectives to help bust some of the most common misconceptions about recycling in Brisbane!

Ready? Let’s get myth busting….

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 – think paper, cardboard, plastics, glass and metal. Any non-recyclable items or ‘contaminants’ are detected by the sophisticated mechanical sorters and removed.

So stress less that one rogue 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 (while plastic bags and other soft plastics aren’t accepted in Council’s recycling bins, you can return them to your local supermarket, where most offer a specialist recycling service for these bags).
  2. Food waste.
  3. Garden waste.
  4. Disposable nappies.
  5. Clothes.

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 tonnes of 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 already great recyclers but we can do more! In 2017-18, approximately 34,490 tonnes of paper products were lost to landfill from incorrect disposal. So if you’re ever unsure ask yourself, “What is it made from?”

If the answer is paper, cardboard, firm plastic, metal (aluminium or steel) or glass you can be pretty sure it belongs in your recycling bin!

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 your city.

Committing to reducing waste and recycling all that we can maximises the resources and materials already in use while conserving untouched 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 I can’t recycle it

Myth busted. While the triangular symbol made from arrows (also known as the Mobius loop) 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. Easy!

Myth 5: All recyclable items can be placed in my household recycling bin

Myth busted. While we’d love to recycle everything, our recycling bins can only be used for select household recycling items made from paper, cardboard, plastic, steel, aluminium and glass.

The good news is that 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.

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

Myth 6: Every container needs to be washed before I put it in my recycling bin

Myth busted. Rinsing your items for the recycling bin isn’t vital for the process of recycling but it does help to reduce odours. As long as they are generally empty of food and liquid, they can be put straight into your recycling bin.

Ready to up the ante on your recycling efforts?

Then you also need to know:

  • you can recycle aerosol cans like deodorant sprays and paper products including pizza boxes (even with a little bit of cheese!), magazines, junk mail, office paper and packaging
  • increase your recycling capacity by ordering a larger yellow lid recycling bin from Council. For a one-off $30 fee you can up your recycling power to a larger 340 litre recycling bin
  • keep myth busting in your local community by downloading the Brisbane Bin and Recycling App to find out what you can recycle if you are unsure and never miss bin day again!
Date posted:
Last updated: 18 June 2020
Topics: green

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