Recycling 101 : Plastics

By Eav Brennan

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Recycling is a common go-to as the basic standard for anyone to tackle their waste for the environment. It’s not as good as reducing your waste entirely - recycling’s pretty energy intensive, and quite inefficient in Australia – but it’s a good stepping stone to developing a more waste-conscious lifestyle. Here’s a basic break-down of common plastics that can be recycled, and common myths about what can and can’t be recycled in most of Australia:


·       Plastic milk bottles, drink bottles

·       Aluminium foil wrapped up in a ball

·       Glass bottles

·       Paper and cardboard

·       Squeeze bottles (sauce, honey etc.)


·       Hard plastics (like yogurt containers)

·       Take-away containers

·       Coffee cup lids


·       Disposable coffee cups

·       Milk cartons

·       Foam

·       Nylon or acrylic clothes

Other items are recyclable, but you need to go to specialized disposal places to recycle them. In Australia, REDcycle has a program that recycles soft plastics (plastic bags or bubble wrap), whilst services to recycle electronic waste (e-waste) is provided in most towns and cities. Be sure to check out your local government’s policies on recycling to make sure what you can and can’t recycle in your area. Don’t worry about cleaning containers before you recycle them.

A good strategy is to reduce your waste as much as possible, and limit your waste to only that which can be recycled in your area.  The websites below are good guides for more detailed recycling strategies: