Plastic waste in Brisbane

Plastic is everywhere and many household products we buy are made from or packaged in plastic. There are many different types of plastic, each with a unique look, feel and disposal method. Use this page to learn how to identify the different types of plastics and find tips for preventing, reusing and recycling plastic waste in Brisbane.

Types of plastic

Firm and flexible plastics

Firm and flexible plastics include household containers which 'pop in' and 'pop out' when you apply and release pressure.

Margarine containers, milk bottles, shampoo bottles, yoghurt containers

Hard or rigid plastics

Hard or rigid plastics don't compress when you apply pressure.

Broken toys, reusable water bottles, Tupperware

Soft plastics

Film-like, 'scrunchable' plastics.

Bread bags, chip packets, pasta bags


Foam-like plastics.

Packing material used for household furniture, white goods and electronic items.

Other plastics

Plastic products made of more than one type of plastic or are very small. These items are hard to recycle.

Glitter, lids, pens, stickers, synthetic textiles, toys

How to reduce plastic waste

The top priority for households is to prevent plastic waste from coming into the home in the first place, followed by reusing plastic products, and recycling plastic so it can be made into new products.


Avoid single-use, excess and problematic plastics and plastic litter

Use these top tips to prevent plastic waste

Avoid single-use and problematic plastics

  • Refuse plastic packaging when you purchase goods. It feels great to say 'no' and this simple action sends a signal to sellers to reduce plastic packaging.
  • Use reusable water bottles. This will save you money too. Find out about reducing waste in school lunchboxes.
  • For your favourite products, look into reusable or refillable options like soda making machines, yoghurt kits or bread makers.
  • Refill empty containers at outlets providing refill stations and choose refill packs for cleaning and beauty products. 
  • Take reusable bags and containers when you shop and order takeaway food and drink.
  • Buy 'nude' food without plastic packaging, such as loose carrots and apples.
  • Make and bake household items, including meals, snacks, cleaning and beauty products.
  • Avoid home-delivered ready-made meals. They include extra packaging waste.
  • If you have a baby or toddler, switch to using reusable nappies and wipes.

Swap soft plastics for reusable or recyclable options

  • Avoid cling wrap by storing food in clear containers.
  • Avoid individually wrapped items like dishwasher tablets, teabags, ice blocks by buying powdered or liquid dishwasher, loose leaf tea, or ice cream in a tub.
  • Chop and make your own veggie packs for the freezer, reusing frozen fruit bags.
  • Grow fresh herbs in pots - mint, sage and rosemary are the easiest herbs to grow.
  • Bring your own reusable garment bag and coat hanger when dropping off your clothes at the dry cleaners.
  • Reuse bubble wrap.
  • Party soft plastics – use reusables for picnics and parties such as: plates and serviettes, decorations, fabric bunting instead of balloons. Keep a decorations box and pass onto family and friends for the next party.
  • When shopping online ask for minimal packaging from your supplier.
  • Take your own bag or container when buying meat and fresh seafood and let your server know.
  • Use reusable menstrual product options.
  • Choose plastic packaging that is easily reusable or recyclable and/or contains recycled content.

Limit plastic usage

Prevent plastic litter and microplastics

  • Choose natural fibre clothing and textiles such as cotton, linen, wool and silk to prevent synthetic fibres washing into waterways. Find out more about textile waste.
  • Remove plastic stickers from fruit before composting as they don't break down.
  • Avoid glitter and plastic confett.
  • If you smoke, carry a small container with you to store cigarette butts until you can dispose of them in a marked bin, or your general waste (red lid) bin. Cigarette butts are the most littered item in Brisbane. They are made from plastic and can take 12-15 years to break down.
  • Discover more ways you can contribute to a litter-free Brisbane and protect our waterways.

Reuse, repurpose, gift/buy/sell/
donate plastic items

Use these top tips to reuse plastic items
  • Reuse durable plastic items for their full life (e.g. until they warp or crack).
  • Reuse produce bags, a basket or cardboard box to hold loose fruit and vegetables.
  • Reuse zip lock bags for frozen fruit.
  • Repurpose plastic items for a different use (e.g. yoghurt containers used for storage, soft plastic bags to keep vegetables fresh in the fridge).
  • Gift, buy, sell or donate plastic items that are in good condition and that you no longer need. Do this:

Recycle plastic waste so it can be made into new products

Use these top tips to recycle plastic

Yellow lid recycling bin

  • Place firm and flexible plastic containers (e.g. milk and shampoo bottles, berry punnets, biscuit trays) in your household recycling bin (yellow lid). Find out more about what can go in your recycling bin and how to order a larger recycling bin for free.

Resource Recovery Centres

  • Visit one of Council's four resource recovery centres to recycle clean polystyrene (used for packaging), hard and other plastics, mobile phones and more. All recycling drop-offs are free at these centres. Find out more about what you can take to the centres at Changler, Geebung, Nudgee and Willawong.

Drop off

  • Preloved plastic toys for recycling at a Big W store.
  • Bottles and small fruit juice boxes and receive 10 cent per container. Visit the Containers for Change website to find eligible containers and refund locations.
  • Pens and markers at your nearest Officeworks store for recycling.
  • Cosmetics packaging and coffee pods with Terracycle.
  • Medicinal blister packs at participating pharmacies or by post with Pharmacycle.


  • Soft plastics, blisters packs, coreflute, polystyrene, vapes and other plastic items can be collected by RecycleSmart.
  • PVC Recycling in Hospitals program collects specific, used PVC medical products for recycling.

More information and tools to help you better recycle plastics

Plastic waste facts

  • Plastic consumption in Australia is increasing with up to 148 kilograms of plastic per person recorded in 2020-21.
  • 95% of plastic packaging is discarded after a single use.
  • Up to 145,000 tonnes of plastic will find its way into the environment every year, which can have devastating impacts on our wildlife.

Impacts of plastic waste

  1. Cost - Plastics may be cheap to make and buy, but the impacts on our environment are at least 10 times higher than  plastic's market price.
  2. Environment - Plastic is made from fossil fuels and releases greenhouse gases during production. When plastic enters the environment as litter or from washing synthetic clothing, it remains for hundreds of years. Plastics in the environment are absorbed by plants and animals and accumulate in the food chain.
  3. Health - Toxic chemicals are released from plastics to air, soil and water. Human exposure to plastic particles and additives can pose health risks.
  4. Landfill - In Brisbane in 2022-23, an estimates 46,210 tonnes of plastic waste was sent to landfill from household general waste (red lid) bins.


More information

Last updated:
Topics: waste

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