The A-Z guide to fewer recycling headaches

Posted on 07 November 2016

2021 UPDATE: check out website for a comprehensive and updated list of items for recycling (or not)

Recycling is a no brainer, right? Well, kind of. It’s not always straightforward to know which what thing goes in what which bin (red garbage, or yellow and blue recycling), with trickier waste items causing confusion and making our heads hurt where do those. bloody Think takeaway coffee cups go? (ouch).

Throwing stuff in the wrong bin can cause problems at the processing plant, and can mean more rubbish in landfill. It’s probably part of the reason why, despite our best recycling intentions, we are not as good as other Aussies, recycling only 34% of unwanted items locally compared to 64% nationally.

Check out this A-Z guide of common curveballs to help you sort it out. Even better, stick this page to your fridge or bin lid. Knowing what goes where will become second nature in no time.

Aluminium foil – Yellow, if scrunched up into a ball the size of a fist (preferably inside a metal container).

Aluminium foil trays – Yellow, as long as it is they’re clean.

Cling, bubble and newspaper wrap, biscuit trays, chip packets, straws – Red. These are soft plastics that unfortunately can’t be recycled. Rule: If you can scrunch the plastic, throw in the red bin.

Clothes hangers – Red. These can get caught in the recycling system and cause damage to machinery. If they’re intact, donate them to your local dry cleaner or charity shop.

Flower pots – Red. Many pots are made from a lower grade plastic that isn’t recyclable, plus they can contain garden chemicals and dirt, which contaminate recycling.

Hard plastic yoghurt/margarine/ice cream containers – Yellow. Attach lids to the container unless they are larger than 5cm in diameter, then they can go in separately.

Lids – Yellow. Lids of the same material (e.g. plastic lids on plastic bottles) should be left on, otherwise they can fall through the screens and do not get recycled.

Light plastic food containers (e.g. strawberry/cherry tomato containers, meat trays) – Yellow.

Metal jar lids, beer bottle caps and wine bottle screw caps – Yellow.

Paper towels – Red. They reduce the quality of recycled paper, and because they it is are a health issue for people sorting on the processing line.

Photographs – Red, due to the chemicals and the high ‘”wet strength’” material used.

Pizza boxes – Blue, provided it’s they’re not too greasy. Pizza box bases that are too greasy to recycle can be torn up and composted instead (or throw the base in the red bin).

Plastic bags – Red. They play havoc with the recycling machinery. Avoid bagging recyclables (e.g. bottles, newspapers) in plastic bags to put in the recycling bin.

Pringles containers – Red. These contain different materials that are too difficult to separate in the recycling process.

Shampoo, sauce, household cleaning bottles – Yellow.

Take-away coffee cups – If you can rip them, it’s they’re mostly paper and can be recycled. If not, it they has have to go into the red bin, unfortunately.

Thank you for keeping our beautiful neighbourhood clean and letting less rubbish make its way out of landfill.

For more info on recycling and disposal of unusual and bulkier items, visit or call 9083 8080.

Check out this video on what happens to our recycling and rubbish in Waverley area.

As published in The Beast Magazine.

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