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Recycling Guide

Are you interested in recycling but don’t know where to start? Read on for a quick and simple guide to recycling in Adelaide.

Recycling is a great way to help the planet. It has many benefits:

  • enables resource recovery, allowing materials to be reused and repurposed
  • saves energy, water and resources
  • keeps things out of landfill and reduces landfill disposal costs
  • promotes a circular economy
  • reduces your ecological footprint

While we all try to do the right thing, it can sometimes be tricky to recycle right. This post is intended to help make recycling easier for you!

Do you know which materials go in which bin?

In South Australia, there are a range of materials that are accepted in our yellow kerbside recycling bin.

This includes:

  • Hard / rigid plastics (i.e. milk bottles, plastic meat trays, strawberry punnets, food containers)
  • Metal tins & cans
  • Glass bottles and jars (but not other glass items like window glass or broken drinking glasses)
  • Paper & cardboard
  • Liquid paperboard cartons

These materials can generally go straight into the yellow bin.

However, there are some items that require a few more steps, before putting them you’re your yellow kerbside recycling bin:

  • Small rigid plastics (i.e. plastic lids, bread tags) – these items should be placed in transparent plastic containers (like a milk or juice bottle) which can then go in the yellow bin when full (with the lid on)
  • Small ferrous (magnetic) metals (i.e. bottle caps, lids from cans) – these items can be placed in an empty metal can. When full, make sure to crush the opening of the can together so none of the small metals will fall out and then put in the recycling. Not sure if your item is ferrous (magnetic) or aluminium (non-magnetic)? – test it with a magnet to check. (note that in some council areas, small metal lids, can go into your recycling bin loose – that’s why we always encourage you to have a look at your council recycling guide available online.
  • Aluminium foil (i.e. alfoil, tops of yoghurt containers, wine bottle lids, easter egg wrappers) – this can go into the recycling bin as long as it is scrunched into a ball at least the size of your fist.

Common mistakes in our yellow kerbside recycling bins.

  • Keep your recycling loose – please don’t put any plastic bags or soft plastic wrappers into the yellow kerbside bin
  • No polystyrene – this is a major source of contamination
  • No used clothing or second-hand goods
  • No electrical items (it is illegal to dispose of electrical items through kerbside collection. Recycle them through an e-waste collection point to help recover valuable metals and materials).
  • No batteries (batteries should be kept out of all bins, as they can cause fires within our waste collection trucks or at landfill sites. Please recycle them through a recognised battery recycling program instead.)
  • No nappies (these need to go to landfill)
  • No food waste – make sure all food waste, plus food stained, wet or soggy paper ends up in your green organics bins (i.e. tissues, paper towels, wet newspapers, bakery paper bags with food mess on them)
  • Shredded paper or small bits of paper should also go into your green bin instead
  • Any compostable packaging should go into your green bin (look for one of these compostable logos)

Container Deposit Scheme

South Australia’s 10c Container Deposit Scheme is a great incentive to participate in recycling. This scheme helps to promote resource recovery and has been successful in reducing litter. It also creates a more valuable recycling stream, as items are separated into the different types, and there is a lot less contamination than in our yellow kerbside bins.

DID YOU KNOW: returning 10c glass bottles and other recyclable glass (i.e. jars and wine bottles) to a collection depot results in a much better recovery rate for the glass and a higher value product? At the depot they can easily be separated into colours and it prevents smashed glass within our yellow kerbside which can embed itself into other recyclables such as cardboard and plastics. While you’ll only receive the deposit for items labelled as 10c deposit, most depots will happily also accept wine bottles and glass jars for free.   

Find your nearest collection depot here.

Plastic codes

Did you know that this symbol isn’t a recycling symbol? The number just tells you what type of plastic it is (some are recyclable and some aren’t). This is a common source of confusion.

The Which Bin website explains the different symbols and what this means for household recycling.

Soft plastics

Soft plastics includes wrappers, plastic bags and other soft packaging. Think of them as the soft plastic packaging that is easy to scrunch up.

Soft plastic CAN’T go into the kerbside recycling system due to the issues they cause for machinery at Materials Recovery Facilities and the fact that they can contaminate the paper recycling stream. 

However, soft plastic CAN be recycled through RedCycle to turn them into new products such as furniture, asphalt, bollards, and signs.

You can find a RedCycle drop off at most major supermarkets. Where to REDcycle will help you find your nearest drop off location. RedCycle accepts a range of materials that are generally thought of as single use (think chip packets, plastic bags, wrappers and bubble wrap). Check out their website for a comprehensive list of items.

Soft plastics are a common form of waste and something we can all do more to reduce. Making the following changes, will help you go a long way to reducing your soft plastics. 

  • Avoid heavily packaged items
  • Remember to BYO shopping bags
  • Buy your fruit and veg loose,
  • Minimise the amount of processed snack foods you buy
  • Try to cooking more food from basic ingredients

Tricky items

There are a range of materials and items that can not be recycled through the kerbside recycling system but also shouldn’t end up in landfill.

A range of materials can be recycled at different locations to recover the valuable materials including:

Tricky items

Where to Recycle

BatteriesOfficeworks, Council Libraries, IKEA, Aldi

Electronics (E-waste)

*anything that runs on batteries or a power cord

Bunnings through Unplug N’ Drop
Light globesMitre 10
Mobile phonesOfficeworks, Council Libraries, phone shops, Mobile Muster program
Pens/textasOfficeworks, Port Environment Centre
PolystyreneElectronics Recycling Australia, Wingfield Waste and Recycling Centre
X-raysRadiology SA, some Red Cross op shops, Port Environment Centre

Still unsure?

If you have an item you are unsure about, the Which Bin website is a comprehensive resource which identifies the correct bin materials should go to, depending on your Council area.

We also recommend checking out your local council website for their waste and recycling information.

Recycling is a great place to start, but a terrible place to stop!

Though recycling is a great step to reduce waste to landfill, it is also important to consider the 5 Rs of waste management: refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle, and remember that recycling is the last step in reducing our waste.

By being intentional with what we purchase and consume, we can live more sustainable lives.

Some questions to consider before making a purchase:

  • Can I find an option with less packaging?
  • Can I switch to a reusable option?
  • Do I really need it?
  • Do I already have something similar?
  • Could I find an alternative or borrow something similar?
  • Could I repurpose this?
  • How could I dispose of this sustainably?

Find out more......

  • Recycling can vary slightly from council to council, so it’s important to find out your local info. Head to your council’s website for a breakdown on just what can and can’t be recycled through their kerbside system. Most people will learn something new if they take the time to read their council’s online waste info.
  • Which Bin: this is a great place to find out where you should put a certain object, depending on your Council area here in SA.

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