Common items that cause confusion when recycling
Hand soap dispensers
While the container can be recycled, the pump cannot. Remove the pump before placing the container in with your recycling.
Used paper towel
It’s made out of paper but once you’ve used it, the grease and food residue could cause problems. According to SBS: "This is because paper towels are produced using a method that improves the 'wet strength' of the paper," making it harder to recycle the fibres.
Broken glasses and crockery
Glass that is not a bottle or jar can't be recycled. As Good Housekeeping points out: "Glass ovenware and kitchenware, such as Pyrex, shouldn't be added to the recycling bin or deposited in recycling banks – nor should drinking glasses.
“This is because not all glass melts at the same temperature, which can cause problems in the recycling process.”
In most cases, the plastic coffee cup lid can be recycled but the cup itself isn’t recyclable.
According to Sustainability Victoria, “Most cups are a mix of plastic and paper and only a few councils in Victoria can currently collect them for recycling. Check with your council or better still, take a reusable cup!”
Foil is recyclable but only when scrunched into a ball the size of a golf ball.
Plastic bags and wrappers
Soft plastics can be recycled but not if they’re put in your regular wheelie bin. Everything from bubble wrap and chip packets, to cling wrap and sandwich bags can be collected and taken to a drop off point. Check out REDcycle to find your nearest collection site and for a full list of items they accept. There are some councils in Australia that allow for plastic bag recycling, but you need to check first.
According to Planet Ark, plastic bottle tops should be removed and thrown into the garbage before putting the bottle in the recycling – unless your local council states otherwise.
“When the lid is left on a bottle it’s more likely to have liquid left inside, which means the bottle will weigh more than it should. Because of this extra weight, the automatic sorting machines can’t process the plastic properly," the website says.
Alternatively, you can remove the lid, squeeze all the air out of the plastic bottle and then replace the lid.
As for steel bottle tops, they are too small to be recycled individually. "The best way to recycle them is to collect them in an empty steel can and when the can is about half full squeeze the top closed and put the can and tops in the recycling bin."