By reducing, reusing, recycling and buying items made to last, you can lower the amount of waste you create.
Before you buy something new, ask yourself:
- Do I really need this?
- Can I borrow or rent this if I will only use it a few times?
- How long will it last?
- Can this be repaired or re-used?
- Can this be repurposed or recycled?
If we reduce the amount of items we buy and consume, we reduce the amount of waste we create.
Recycling starts at the shop
Sustainable practices start with what we buy. So, next time you’re shopping consider buying products that:
- you are likely to use again
- have good durability
- can be re-used, repurposed or recycled
- have packaging that can be repurposed or recycled
- are made from sustainable and ethically sourced materials
- have a clear label that tells you how to dispose of it correctly.
In most areas different kerbside bins separate rubbish from recyclables. When we recycle correctly, the contents in these bins can made into something new.
When we dispose of our waste correctly we:
- divert waste from landfill
- increase the amount of recyclable material made into new products
- reduce contamination of recycling streams.
The ARL is a label that provides easy to understand instructions on how to recycle packaging. The label has 3 options:
- Black recycling labels show packaging that can be recycled through your kerbside bin.
- White recycling labels gives you extra instructions for recycling.
- Garbage can labels show packaging that is not recyclable.
Check the item can go in your recycling bin by looking for the ARL. This will tell you if it can go in your kerbside recycling bin.
There is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach for recycling in Australia. Recycling services differ from council to council.
To find out what you can recycle in your local area visit Recycling Near You.
If the item cannot go in the recycling bin – check if it can be recycled in other ways. Look for the ‘conditionally recyclable’ symbol on the ARL and follow the instructions.
Some items don’t belong in kerbside recycling. These include:
- plastic bags and soft plastics such as bread bags, biscuit packets, rice and pasta bags
- polystyrene including takeaway food containers, meat trays, foam packaging
- light globes, mirrors and window glass
- crockery, drinking glasses and Pyrex
- sharps and syringes
- batteries and electronics
- tissue paper, napkins and paper towels
- recyclables with food or a lot of contamination in them
- building and home improvement materials
If you’re not sure where to throw certain items, check Recycle Mate, or put them in your rubbish bin. If in doubt, throw it out!
Schemes for recycling specific products and packaging
Some items can be recycled through a specific scheme instead of your kerbside bin. Australian Government accredited product stewardship schemes have proven sustainability outcomes.
You can recycle batteries at major retailers like Aldi, Woolworths, and Officeworks. You can learn more about battery recycling by visiting the Battery Stewardship Council.
Never put old batteries in your household recycling or rubbish bin. They can produce sparks that may start fires.
The National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme is a free recycling service. Learn more about available recycling services through the National TV & Computer Recycling Scheme.
You can also contact your local council for information or visit Planet Ark’s Recycling Near You.
Any mobile phone can be recycled through the MobileMuster recycling program. MobileMuster has over 3,500 public drop off points across the country and a free post back option. Find a drop off point or check mailing options by visiting MobileMuster.
The Australian Government is supporting the Australian Fashion Council to develop a product stewardship scheme. This work is more than just recycling. It aims to improve clothing design to encourage durability and recyclability. This will reduce clothing waste to landfill.
To reduce clothing waste, consider repairing or repurposing clothing. You can also sell or donate items in good condition. unsellable items can be repurposed as rags for cleaning around the house.
Tyre Stewardship Australia recycles end-of life tyres. Annually they recycle over 300 thousand tonnes. Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) accredited participants supports sustainable markets. 25 cents from each tyre goes towards finding a new life for your old ones when you buy from an TSA participant.
Find a TSA accredited participant.
Recycling is a resource
When we recycle right, the collected materials can be reused and made into something new. This means:
- less materials go to landfill
- less pressure on the environment, including less greenhouse gas emissions
- a boost to the circular economy
- more innovation.
The Australian Government has invested $190 million to support recycling facilities nationally.
Find out about investments in recycling facilities through the Recycling Modernisation Fund.
Businesses are engaging in product stewardship. They are taking responsibility for products across the product life including recycling.
To find out more, check out the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund.
Buy products made from recycled materials
Buying products made from recycled materials reduces the amount of waste in landfill. This is a way to support Australian businesses who use recycled materials. Recycled materials create products from packaging to furniture and even clothing.
To find out more check out the Recycled Products Directory.
Recycling works best when the right items are recycled correctly. Something new is then made using the recycled materials and purchased again. Remember to consider buying only what you really need. Avoid over packaged products and single-use items. Repair or buy second-hand or products containing recycled content when possible.
There is a right way to recycle to make sure the items within your recycling bin are processed correctly.
Next time you throw items in your recycling bin, please:
- flatten boxes before recycling them
- remove all food and liquid from containers
- throw your recycling in loose, instead of in a plastic bag (as plastic bags cannot be recycled)
- check it before you chuck it to make sure the ARL matches the bin you are putting it in.
If you’re unsure, check for council specific recycling rules. If you’re still unsure, throw the item in your rubbish bin instead.
Use these resources to help you recycle. Minimise certain items going into the wrong bin to avoid contamination.
The Recycle Mate app helps you recycle anywhere in Australia. You scan an item to find out how to recycle it.
The app uses artificial intelligence to match items with recycling solutions in your area.
By using the app, you’re learning more about recycling in your area. The more people using it, the better it’ll become!
Recycle Mate is Australia’s first community-driven recycling app. It’s free to download and use.
Find out more through Recycle Mate.
Planet Ark offers guidance to recycle items that can’t go in the kerbside bin, like mattresses and paint.
Find out how to recycle different materials.
It’ll also help you recycle correctly depending on where you live. The way you recycle in your area might be different from other locations. This includes when you travel for holidays.
Find out how to recycle in your area.
Your recycling is a valuable resource, not waste.