Reduce & Recycle Waste

The first step to reducing household waste is to rethink our assumptions about what waste is. If we shift our thinking about the lifespan of products that we use and the lifecycle of produce that we consume, we can make landfill a last resort.

The next step is to become more aware of how we create waste and the variety of ways we can reduce, re-use and recycle. A lot of the stuff we throw out isn’t really waste at all. By refusing excess packaging or making a decision not to purchase things brand new, we can reduce the amount of unnecessary waste sent to landfill.

Recycling means your waste products go on to become useful to someone else. Recycling also helps make sure that there will be enough resources left for later generations. By using waste materials rather than new materials, manufacturers can avoid the cost and environmental impacts of extracting, refining, transporting and processing raw materials. It also means that the amount of waste going to landfill is reduced.

Recycling

Recycling means your waste products go on to become useful to someone else. Recycling also helps make sure that there will be enough resources left for later generations. By using waste materials rather than new materials, manufacturers can avoid the cost and environmental impacts of extracting, refining, transporting and processing raw materials. It also means that the amount of waste going to landfill is reduced.

Councils provide special bins for recyclable materials which are collected alongside your normal garbage. Material collected is taken to a sorting facility and then sent to other places where the materials can be made into something new.

Kerbside recycling services usually collect:

  • paper and cardboard
  • glass bottles and jars
  • rigid (hard) plastic
  • steel and aluminium products like foil, pie trays and cans.

The materials that can and can’t be put into kerbside bins vary in different areas, so contact your local council to find out exactly what you can put in your recycling bin. Putting the wrong materials in your recycling bin may lead to large amounts of recyclable material being sent to landfill because it's too difficult to separate them out.

Aluminium and steel recycling

Aluminium is a common metal and is used widely in cans and for food-related products like foil and pie trays.

Making aluminium uses so much energy that aluminium is sometimes called ‘frozen electricity’.

However, aluminium can be recycled very easily, and many times over. That’s why it’s so important to recycle as much aluminium as possible. Even aluminium with food scraps stuck to it can be recycled.

When recycling steel cans, it’s best to put the lid inside the can and then squash the top of the can before placing it in your recycling bin. If you’re not sure if an item is made of steel, you can use a fridge magnet to test it. If the magnet sticks, it’s made from steel.

Paper Recycling

Paper and cardboard can be recycled and used again in other paper products. The more we recycle paper and cardboard, the less we need to use natural resources like fibre from trees to manufacture new products. It also uses less energy and water in manufacturing.

When you’re buying paper or cardboard products, look out for items that contain a high percentage of Australian recycled fibre or are made with fibre content from sustainably managed sources, such as plantations or sustainably managed native forests. Australian paper manufacturers have to meet environmental production standards which may not have to be met in other countries.

Plastics Recycling

Plastics are man-made products that come from valuable non-renewable resources like oil, gas and coal. Because these resources are so valuable, and because plastics can be effectively recycled and used again in many other ways, it’s important that we recycle as much plastic as possible.

Recycling organic materials

Some local councils collect organic waste from your home and turn it into compost. Organic waste includes fruit and vegetable scraps, lawn clippings and garden waste. Contact your local council for a list of materials that can and can’t be included in organic waste collections.

Composting helps keep organic waste out of landfill where it rots and generates methane, a greenhouse gas that is particularly damaging to the environment.

If you have a garden and you have enough space, you could compost your own organic matter or get a worm farm. You can then turn your food waste into free fertiliser to improve your garden soil and feed your plants. Even if you live in an apartment, you may be able to have a small worm farm on your balcony or in your garage.