Our contaminated recycling and what we can do to help

30 April 2020
Our contaminated recycling and what we can do to help

According to ACOR (Australian Council of Recycling) our household recycling and waste has increased by 10% as more of us are at home during COVID-19 lockdown measures. Along with this is an increase in recycling contamination.

Contamination is an issue because it can derail the hard work of those recycling diligently. The wrong items placed in our recycling bins lead to collections being unusable and ultimately thrown into landfill. 

The CEO of ACOR Mr Shmigel said in a recent interview there has been an increase in soft plastics going into kerbside bins when this should be going to the soft plastic recycling drop off points located at Coles and Woolworths supermarkets. Soft plastics wreck havoc on the machines at the recycling sorting facilities.

The article went on to mention the rise in single use coffee cups in recycling bins. A majority of the single-use coffee cups can't be recycled through kerbside recycling because of the plastic and paper body. The cups can be recycled through Simple Cups drop off points found at 7-Eleven stores in VIC, NSW, QLD and WA. If you are going to use a single-use coffee cup please recycle because the paper is really valuable as it's considered high quality. 


So what can we do to help stop contamination?


You might be wondering why those in the zero-waste movement should do something after all recycling is a step only exercised after refusing, reducing and reusing. However it's a peculiar time. More people are cooking at home therefore more packaging. The takeaway coffee once enjoyed in a reusable is no longer available. And just because people choose a reusable coffee cup doesn't always mean they know how to recycle right either.

So while some of us know how to recycle these items correctly, others might not. If anything the current situation can be helpful in learning how and where to recycle correctly presenting a stepping stone we can build on in the future. 

How do we encourage others to recycle right?


More of us are online than ever before which giving us an opportunity to partake in online community education. Facebook is the preferred social media platform for most Aussies and we love a Facebook group. Something like a Buy Swap Sell group also doubles as a way to find out local information quickly or pass on notices. So I'm going to use my local Buy Swap Sell and another community group to help remind everyone to recycle right and not add to the contamination. I'm also using it as a way to get those food scraps out of the landfill bin and into our green organics bin or to start home composting.

If you'd like to do the same feel free to use the example below:

Join your fellow Moonee Valley residents in helping to recycle better.

During this peculiar time our waste and recycling has increased by 10%. Our recycling bins are being contaminated with soft plastics (like fruit and veggie bags, toilet paper wrapping, food packaging Australia Post delivery bags) and even single-use coffee cups. You can join your fellow neighbours by double checking what can be recycled on Moonee Valley City Council website mvcc.vic.gov.au/live/my-house/waste-and-recycling/

Other tips for recycling right:
- Soft plastics (hint: they can be scrunched into a ball) go to Coles and Woolworths soft plastics drop off.
- Avoid putting your recyclables in plastic bags as plastic bags break the machines.
- Single-use coffee cups can be taken to participating 7/11 stores. Due to the plastic lining within a coffee cup these can't go into kerbside recycle. You can find the nearest drop off here forms.simplycups.com.au/locations
- Food scraps should go into the green organics bin. This is turned into compost and passed onto farmers to help grow yummy food for us. Or start your own home compost and worm farm.
- Electronics (anything with a cord or battery) are not allowed to go into our landfill bins. Instead take them to the Transfer Station located 188 Holmes Road, Aberfeldie.

For tips on recycling other items visit www.recyclingnearyou.com.au


Hope you are all doing well at this time :)

P.S if you don't want to drop off items recycled through special programs right now keep them in a seperate box or bag until then, for example the coffee cups.




You can either snap a photo to go with your post or simply use the text above.

Now I'm aware there is the very slim possibility of some not so friendly comments but I have faith (or more hope) the majority understand I'm only trying to be helpful. It can be nerve-racking stepping outside the eco themed facebook groups to more general one talking about this kind of stuff. Just remember you are sharing information to be helpful and protect the planet. At least this works for me.

I believe social media an effective tool for sharing sustainable living tips organically and to help normalise wasting less. While it would be great for our governments (Council, State or Federal) to put out this information and we'd all make a change instantly the reality is the majority make a change because others are doing it too. Plastic and waste continues to be a popular topic in Australia so why not leverage it and help your community get it right on bin night.
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