I’ve made this post short and sweet in the hope that more people will make it to the end. As simple as it seems, recycling is confusing, misinformed and sometimes way ‘too hard basket’. It’s like trying to park here:
As far as what we should put into our waste or recycling can be baffling even for someone who holds a degree in environmental science (I still get it wrong. What was I doing for 3.5 years?!). The rules change from municipality to municipality in Melbourne and recycling is one of those things most having been doing all their lives but never receive the updates or training required to keep up.
When it comes to sustainability, best practice is always:
In reference to recycling:
- REDUCE: Minimise what you can. Ask yourself;
- Do I really need this?
- Is there a version of this product that comes with less packaging?
- Can I make the product from scratch with less waste?
- Can I buy the product in bulk to minimise the amount of packaging?
- REUSE: Can any part of the packaging be reused?
- Glass jars a goody for vases, salad dressing shakers, tumblers etc.
- Strong plastic bags work well for storing anything… literally.
- Shoe boxes make great filing systems.
- RECYCLE: and when all that fails or is too much recycle what you can.
Damn, this upcycling is so good I should audition for Playschool.
As a general rule in Melbourne you can recycle the following into your regular weekly pick up:
- GLASS – bottles, condiments, coffee etc.
- ALUMINIUM – clean scrunched foil, cans including aerosol, metal pots, pans and cutlery
- CARDBOARD AND PAPER – letters (you don’t even have to remove windows), junk mail, cardboard boxes (including tissue boxes), cartons, take away containers (yes pizza boxes too), magazines etc.
- PLASTIC CODES 1-7 – Now, I know those codes mean jack to most people so essentially this includes bottles, food containers, Tupperware and small pot plants
- LBP or Tetra packaging – long life milk and juice containers
KEEP READING, I’m not done yet, the next bit is very important!
Now this is where it gets tricky and becomes a lot more effort for the individual to recycle stuff as you have to go out of your way to do it, so stay with me… the following CAN be recycled, however, just not, I repeat not in your recycling bin:
- Plastics bags, wrappers and reuseable supermarket green bags – take these to either Coles or Woolies for the Redcycle pick up.
- Polystyrene – some transfer stations take polystyrene (check your local).
- Electronics including batteries and light globes – these can be disposed of at your local transfer station, Aldi and Officeworks take batteries. UPDATE: Officeworks no longer recycle batteries, they do however recycle ink cartridges, IT equipment and mobile phones (thanks Nick).
- Wood of any description – More on this on a later post!
- Disposable coffee cups including fro-yo containers and slurpee/McDonalds cups – 7-Eleven has partnered with Cup Rescue to offer recycling for this type of vessel.
- Toothpaste tubes and brushes including floss containers (excluding anything to do with electronic toothbrushes) can be recycled through Terracycle, all you have to do is post them… for free!
So for any Melbournites out there reading this post please don’t put any of those in your recycling bin. It’s like peeing in the pool, if one person does it, it will probably go unnoticed, if everyone does it then you’re ruining everyone’s fun.
Ceramics and homewares made from glass – use these to make a sweet-as mosaic. Unfortunately broken glass in this form – think Pyrex, wine glasses, windows etc. – cannot be recycled as it’s been chemically treated to withstand really high temperatures, screwing with the melting pot of regular glass. At this point in time I do not know of any way to recycle ceramics (drop me a line if you do!).
Just when we thought we got the hang of it, a curve ball gets thrown at us…
- Some councils want you to pre wash, some don’t mind a little muck as long as there’s no chunks
- Some will take plastic toys, some won’t
- Some want the cap or lid off, some don’t
- Some councils have bins with yellow lids, some blue
With the plethora of materials used in today’s society, I’ve only covered the basics used day-to-day. If there is anything I’ve left off (I may cover it at a later date – fabric, wood, rubber) check out these resources:
Best of all, if you do want to know if something can be recycled you can ask me and I’ll try to find out for you! How good is that?! That’s how excited I get about waste minimisation.
Cheerio for now,