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The comprehensive guide on how to recycle in Australia

Do you know what rubbish should go into which bin?

A recent survey by Veolia found that on average 40 per cent of people struggle to work out which bin to put their waste into.

Every little effort counts when it comes to cleaning up the planet, and while we can’t all be renowned recyclers, let this guide help you to be the best rubbish remover you can be.

Note: Every council recycling service is different and may not offer disposal for every waste type. Before you head off, check their website to see what items they accept.

If you need more information, Planet Ark’s Recycling Near You has great guides about how to recycle different products and where to do so.

It’s important to get recycling right. Photo: Getty

Bamboo and wood cutlery

Bamboo and wood cutlery should be placed into the general waste bin.

Barbecue gas canisters 

Empty gas canisters can be swapped for filled ones at select petrol stations, hardware stores like Bunnings and Mitre10, caravan parks and convenience stores. Otherwise, they should be taken to specialised recycling services.

Biodegradable plastic bags

Don’t let the name fool you, these bags should be placed into the general waste bin.

Blister packs 

Blister packs used to store medications can be recycled via Pharmacycle bins at select Chemist Warehouse, National Pharmacy and Blooms the Chemist stores, or placed into general waste.

Car battery

Car batteries can be disposed of at your local council’s waste transfer centre or at Repco and Supercheap Auto stores.

Clear plastic containers

Place these containers into the recycling bin – they should be clean and dry.

Compostable coffee cups

Place these cups into general waste unless it’s clearly stated that they can go into the home compost bin.

Cooking oil

Cooking oil can be recycled at your local council’s waste transfer station. It should never be poured down the drain. Small amounts of cooking oil can be disposed of in garden compost.

Corks

Natural corks can be recycled through the ReCork program at select Dan Murphy’s stores. Synthetic/plastic corks should go into general waste.

Dead animals

Dead animals should be placed into a plastic bag and then put into the general waste bin.

Drink cans

Aluminium drink cans should be placed into the recycling bin or taken to a container deposit scheme drop-off site in your state/territory.

Food scraps

Food scraps go into the organic waste bin. Note: Some councils require bones and shells to go into general waste.

Garden waste

Place garden waste into the organic waste bin.

Glasses

Glasses, hearing aids and unused contact lenses can be dropped off at Specsavers stores for donation to Lions Recycle for Sight Australia. Otherwise they can be placed into the general waste bin.

Light bulbs

Light bulbs should be placed into e-waste bins at council waste transfer stations. Some libraries have e-waste recycling as well.

Medication

Medications, supplements, gels, liquids, creams and pet medicines can be taken to your local pharmacy for safe disposal via the Return Unwanted Medicines Project.

Mobile phones

Mobile phones should be placed into e-waste bins, taken to Mobile Muster collection points at Officeworks, Telstra, Vodafone and Optus stores, or posted to Mobile Muster. If you have an iPhone, Apple will recycle it for free.

Old clothing

Clothing in good condition can be donated to your local op-shop. Otherwise, it should be placed into general waste.

Old hand tools

If tools are in good condition, contact your local op-shop or Men’s Shed to see if they take donations. Electrical tools like drills and grinders should be placed into e-waste bins at council waste transfer stations. Other tools should be disposed of safely in general waste bins.

Old power tool batteries 

Old power tool batteries can be placed into B-cycle battery recycling bins at stores like Bunnings, Aldi, Coles and Woolworths, and independent hardware stores.

Paint

Paint can be taken to drop-off locations at certain council waste transfer stations for recycling by Paintback.

Paper

Paper should be placed into the recycling bin.

Plastic chip packets

Plastic chip packets should be placed into the general waste bin or, if you live in Melbourne, one of the 12 stores trialling soft-plastic recycling.

Plastic drink bottles

Plastic drink bottles should be placed into the recycling bin or taken to a container deposit scheme drop-off site if available in your state/territory.

Single-use coffee cups

The coffee cup should be placed into the general waste bin, while the lid should go into the recycling bin. Cups can also be taken to Simply Cups drop-off sites at 7-Eleven stores and select supermarkets and cafes for recycling.

Small batteries

Small batteries should be placed into B-cycle battery recycling bins at Aldi, Coles, Woolworths, Bunnings, Battery World or in bins at council waste transfer stations.

Small electronics

Small electronics should be placed into e-waste bins at council waste transfer stations, some libraries and select Officeworks stores.

Vapes/e-cigarettes

  • Reusable vapes: Batteries can be removed and given to a battery recycling service. The cartridge, reusable pod and e-liquid (vape juice) can be taken to pharmacies and returned through the Return Unwanted Medicines Program. The outside container goes in the general waste bin.
  • Single-use vapes: Single-use vapes are difficult to dispose of safely. Contact your local council to see if they have a vape drop-off point.
Topics: Environment
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