There are many items that we use on a daily basis that can be recycled and later become a useful product for someone else. Outside of the States, there are countless countries moving toward a greener way of life. One example is Australia’s “kerbside” recycling service, designed to make everyday recycling easier at home. Like many collection programs in the U.S., this kerbside recycling program takes basic household recyclables like paper, cardboard, glass, hard plastic, steel and aluminum. The Australian government encourages residents to contact their local council to find exactly what can be put in the recycling bin, because putting the wrong materials in a recycling bin may lead to large amounts of recyclables being sent to landfill because due to difficulty in separating them out. Unfortunately, there are still items that cannot be placed at the curb, such as hazardous waste materials like batteries, motor oil, chemical, paints and fluorescent lamps. In addition, soft plastics like shopping bags and plastic wrap are not accepted. Finally, other items like ceramics, cookware, televisions, mobile phones, computers, electrical goods, rope, hoses, clothing, shoes, and cooking oil are a “pass” for this recycling program. Although what seems to be an endless list of items cannot be recycled at the curb, the local council may know of a nearby facility that accepts e-waste, furniture and domestic quantities of hazardous materials and what procedures are needed to drop off. If some of these items are in good condition, they could also be recycled through a local charity or consignment shop. According to the Australian government, Australians dispose of 90% of their glass in to recycling bins, but less than half of that figure can be processed for recycling. Because different glass melts at various temperatures it can be difficult to recycle and may cause weaknesses in recycled glass products. In addition, Australia offers even more recycling tips:
- Check with your local council about what they collect and their preferences for how to recycle materials in kerbside recycling bins. For example, some facilities prefer you to leave lids on containers while others prefer you to leave them off.
- Always put the items into your recycling bin loose; not in a plastic bag. Everything inside a plastic bag will be sent to landfill. Plastic bags can also tangle up the machinery used to sort the recycling materials.
- Plastic bags marked as biodegradable should only be placed in your compost. They won’t break down in landfill and shouldn’t go into recycling bins.
- Flatten boxes but don’t bundle items together. Place items loose in bins.
- Roll aluminum foil into a ball and place it in a recycling bin, even if it has food stuck to it.
- If you run out of room in your recycling bin, ask a neighbor if they have spare room in theirs or make a trip to a recycling center yourself. In some areas you’re able to request an additional recycling bin for a small annual fee.