How to Recycle Right

Do you really know how to recycle? While you might think that it’s ok to throw anything made of plastic, paper or metal into your recycling bin and hope for the best, you’re wrong. Recycling is a complicated process. Once your recycling arrives at the processing plant, it is sorted by material. This process becomes difficult when recycling is mixed with non-recyclables, or it is contaminated with food or other waste.


While recycling can be costly and complicated, it is still an important process with many benefits. Recycling allows a used material to be remanufactured and repurposed into something that is new and useful. Recycling can save energy and resources and most importantly, reduces the amount of waste in landfills. Recycling is an important part of sustainable society, as well as conserving resources and the environment for future generations.

Tetrapacks ready for recycling. Photo by 5OCEANS


To help you get recycling right, here are a few tips:


1. Learn what is recyclable and what isn’t

Paper, glass, plastic and metal are all recyclable materials that can be put in your recycling bin. Food scraps and garden waste can be composted or deposited in green waste bins. Other more complex items, such as electronics or car parts, can be recycled at specialized recycling facilities. Contact your local council for more information.


2. Learn that some things aren’t worth recycling

There are a number of products that are made from recyclable materials that are too complicated or costly to recycle. Small paper scraps are nearly impossible to separate from other materials. Polystyrene plates and cups are usually soiled by food products and are too lightweight to recycle. Take-away coffee cups are often coated with plastic and therefore impossible to separate the two materials. Plastic bags are too flimsy to recycle as they often get caught in machinery.


Tin cans at a recycling plant. Photo by 5OCEANS
Tin cans at a recycling plant. Photo by 5OCEANS

3. Clean waste before recycling it

Recyclable materials can be worthless to processing plants if they are contaminated by food waste. It is important to remove any food or liquid from containers or packaging before recycling them.


4. Separate bottle lids from the bottle

Items such as bottle lids are often not made from the same material as the bottle they have come from. By removing lids, the sorting process becomes much simpler for processing plants.


5. Purchase products that are recyclable or have minimal packaging

By avoiding heavily packaged products, or simply looking out for products with eco-friendly packaging, you can support the recycling industry and minimize the use of non-recyclable materials.


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