7 surprising things you're definitely doing wrong when you're recycling.

Do you play a game of eeny meeny miny moe each bin day? You’re not alone.

10-15 per cent of kerbside recycling is actually put in the wrong bin. 

Knowing what can and can’t be recycled is no easy feat: it's confusing, difficult and overwhelming. 

So here are a couple of pointers to help you go from recycling rookie to garbage guru.

Watch: By 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

1. Just because you want to recycle it doesn’t mean you should.

Have you ever taken a look at a product, questioned whether it should be recycled or not and thrown it into the recycling bin just in case? You're not the only one, but this “wish-cycling” comes at cost.

Sadly there aren’t any garbage fairies at the end of the chain picking out what’s wrong, which is why collectively we need to do better. 

The best motto to go by is 'if in doubt throw it out'.


2. You can’t recycle anything that has the recycling triangle on it.

The little recycling triangle you see on so many products is actually a plastic resin code and shows what type of plastic the item is made from.

For example, number six stands for polystyrene or styrofoam (think meat trays, foam coffee cups and takeaway containers) which cannot be recycled at home.

3. Don’t recycle like your bestie.

To make things a little more tricky, each and every council recycles differently, meaning that when you move house, go to work or go to a friend's house the recycling system is probably completely different to yours. 

The best thing to do is check in with your local council about any items that you’re unsure about.

4. The common contamination culprits.

Some of the biggest "contaminants" and most common things that Australians wrongly put in household recycling bins (according to Cleanway) are:⁣

1. Greasy pizza boxes⁣

2. Nappies⁣

3. Soft plastics⁣

4. E-waste⁣

5. Used tissues and paper towels⁣

6. Food waste⁣

7. Broken crockery⁣

8. Textiles⁣ (clothing)


9. Garden waste⁣

10. Bagged recyclables⁣

Keep these well away from your recycling bin! 

5. To clean or not to clean.

Now this is a point of heavy contention: should you wash your recyclables before putting them in the bin? Firstly, check with your local council for your gold standard, but generally speaking a quick rinse will do the job. 

The main thing you want to avoid is putting anything with food residue in your recycling bin, so give your tomato tins, yoghurt tubs and pad thai containers a rinse then throw them in - there’s no need to put them through the dishwasher or give them a polish first. 

6. If it’s broken, recycling won’t fix it.

Whilst wine bottles and glass jars can be recycled, broken crockery and glass cannot go into your recycling bin. 

Repair your favourite ceramic dish if you can, otherwise wrap it in paper and place it in your general waste bin.

7. Save up your recycling.

Does your heartbreak each time you throw something in your general waste bin? Have a look at specialty recycling services like Banish’s BRAD program where you can recycle hard to recycle items like blister packs, coffee pods, toothpaste tubes and old empty beauty products. 


Start collecting and help stop these items from going to landfill.

Lottie Dalziel is the founder of Banish, with a mission to help Australians reduce their waste with the right products and information. Follow Banish on Instagram for more great tips.

Feature Image: Instagram / @banish.au

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