LIFE AND ADVICE

How To Recycle Properly To Save The Environment

A small way to do your part.
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Waste is one of the biggest issues facing the environment, and recycling is a small but impactful act that can significantly impact the earth – IF (and it’s a big if) it’s done properly.

WATCH: Cowspiracy Trailer.

Unfortunately, Australia hasn’t done a good job in this department, and The Guardian reported in 2020 that we generate “more waste than average” and recycle less than other developed economies.

As a result, we have sent 4.5m tonnes of waste to Asia each year, which is frankly frightening.

Recycling is important because it cuts landfill waste, protects the environment from toxic materials like cardboard, and helps recover non-renewable resources.

When attempting to recycle, it’s essential to be considered, thoughtful and aware of how to do it properly.

So, to clear up the confusion, here are the most important things to consider to recycling successfully.

What materials can be recycled?

Paper, cardboard, glass bottles (that are green, brown, and clear), jars, cartons, alfoil, cans, tins, trays, and boxes.

What materials can’t be recycled?

Plastic lids, plastic bags, soft plastic, toys, crystals, pens, furniture, needles, foam, rubber, tissues, oils, ceramics, polystyrene, appliances, and car parts.

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Make sure to remove bottle lids. (Credit: Getty)

Why can’t plastic lids be recycled?

Removing lids and placing them in the red bin is so important because if it’s left on a container, the liquid inside could weigh the container down. That can wreak havoc on automatic sorting machines.

It can also trap air, resulting in bottles getting baled together in the sorting process, as reported by Recycling Near You.

How clean do items need to be?

Luckily, you aren’t required to make items spotless before placing them in the recycling bin. However, it’s best to remove big chunks of food and to rinse cans and jars.

A helpful rule of thumb is to clean, squash and separate.

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Do not recycle plastic bags. (Credit: Getty)

What is one of the worst mistakes people make?

Plastic bags do not – we repeat, DO NOT – belong anywhere near the recycling bin.

According to KS Environmental Group, it’s the “biggest recycling mistake made by Australians.”

It’s bad because plastic contaminates the recycling load, and recycling facilities are not designed to handle plastic bags at all.

One last tip: Unless otherwise stated, you can’t recycle takeaway coffee cups. 

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