Recycling at home

Brisbane residents are working hard to improve their recycling habits at home. Since 2012, residents have reduced the percentage of recyclables being incorrectly disposed of in household rubbish bins from 28% to 15% in 2020. This is a great result, but there's still more we can do to keep our city clean and green and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

Find out what you can and can't put in your general waste, recycling, and green bin on our bin items page.

Test your knowledge with our recycling quiz

Take our quick recycling quiz to:

  • find out what type of recycler you are
  • make sure you're putting the right things in the right bin.

What happens to your recycling?

Brisbane boasts a state-of-the-art recycling service that residents can be proud of. Recycling collected by Brisbane City Council’s dedicated fleet of recycling trucks is taken to Visy’s Material Recovery Facility at Gibson Island. Council supports local recycling through Brisbane and Australian based companies.

Find out more

The process:

  1. Residents place recyclables in recycling bins.
  2. Recycling bins are collected by Council’s contractor and taken to Visy’s Material Recovery Facility at Gibson Island.
  3. Visy sorts recycling into streams of paper and cardboard, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) polyethylene terephthalate/polyester (PET), steel, mixed plastics, glass and aluminium to be reprocessed into new products.
  4. Items that are not recyclable but have been incorrectly placed into recycling bins are sorted out of these streams and go to landfill.

Top five items for your recycling bin

The simple rule of thumb with recycling is to check what an item for disposal is made of.

These five types of materials can generally go in your household recycling bin:

  • cardboard
  • paper
  • metal
  • glass
  • plastic.

Read our Brisbane recycling tips to keep your sustainability streak strong article for helpful information.

Download Council's Brisbane Bin and Recycling app with its easy search function to make sure you're putting the right thing in the right bin every time.

Order a larger recycling bin to make recycling more even easier. Council has waived the $30 establishment fee.

Paper and cardboard

Research shows more than 27,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard is put in waste bins every year instead of recycling bins. By recycling at home, we can ensure valuable resources like paper and cardboard are recovered instead of going to landfill.

Could your household be recycling more paper including:

  • glossy magazines
  • newspapers
  • junk mail
  • pizza boxes (even with a little bit of cheese)
  • corrugated cardboard (like packing boxes)
  • receipts and papers from your home office?

Think about paper as a resource that you can reuse, recreate and recycle.

Here are Council's top paper and cardboard recycling tips.

  1. It’s tempting to throw glossy junk mail straight into the waste bin. Remember it’s made from paper. Place it in your recycling bin.
  2. Cardboard food containers at markets and festivals deserve another life too. Empty the food scraps into the waste bin before recycling the cardboard container.
  3. Reuse and recycle your copy paper. It can feel like a little sheet of paper won’t make a difference. All those invoices, envelopes and letters add up to tonnes of paper recycled in Council’s bins each year.
  4. Cardboard boxes and pizza boxes are great for recycling. Once you have used them, flatten and place them in the recycling bin. They can be made into new boxes by VISY. 

Items you can't recycle in your household recycling bin

Use the Brisbane Bin and Recycling app for advice on ways you can save items from landfill or dispose of these items in your household rubbish bin. The following items should not be put in your household recycling bin:

  • cellophane
  • ceramics
  • clothes
  • drinking glasses
  • food waste
  • garden waste
  • heat-proof dishes
  • nappies *
  • needles **
  • padded envelopes that contain plastic
  • photographs
  • plastic bags
  • polystyrene foam
  • soft plastics, such as food wrappers and plastic wrap
  • syringes **
  • tissues and toilet paper *
  • wax-coated paper.

* Not only is it unhygienic to process materials containing bodily fluids with other recyclables, the paper fibres in these items are too short to recover and make into another product.

** Syringes and needles should not go into your recycling bin at home. You can only dispose of these in your rubbish bin if they are placed in a sealed rigid-walled and puncture-resistant container (e.g. sharps container). 

More information

For more information, download Council’s Brisbane Bin and Recycling app. It is available for free for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.

You can also read Brisbane’s best recycling guide for households online to find out about getting a bigger recycling bin.

Using these simple tools and tips, you can help Brisbane become a cleaner, greener city. Help us reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill.

Last updated: 7 September 2021

Brisbane City Council acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land and their unique relationship with their ancestral country. We pay respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of Brisbane, and recognise their strength and wisdom.