Recycling bins in the Douglas Shire are collected from most homes every fortnight.
Contents are taken to the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Cairns where they are separated both manually and with specialised sorting equipment. The streams – paper, aluminium, glass, steel, plastic – are then transported to processing plants in Australia and Asia where they are made into new products.
Do I have to rinse glass bottles and jars before putting them in my recycling bin?
Yes. Food and other residue should be cleaned from the glass bottles/jars before they are put in your recycling bin as any contamination may impact on the ability to recycle some items. It also poses a health and safety risk for staff sorting recyclables. To save water, rinse them in your dishwashing water after you have finished the dishes.
Do I have to remove the lids from glass bottles and jars before I put them in my recycling bin?
Yes. Once you have rinsed the glass bottle/jar of food residue, make sure you leave the lids loose in your recycling bin (don’t put them back on the bottle/jar), so they can be separated more effectively at the MRF. Removing lids also ensures that no liquids remain in the bottles/jars and potentially contaminate the load or create a health and safety risk for the staff sorting the recyclables.
Why can’t I put drinking glasses and broken window glass in my recycling bin?
The glass used in glassware other than glass bottles and jars has a wide variety of properties and melting temperatures. This means if it is sent for recycling, it may not melt properly or form faults (invisible to the naked eye) in new bottles and jars made from recycled glass. This is particularly the case with ceramics and heat proof glassware (e.g. Pyrex), which should never be placed in your recycling bin.
Do I have to remove the plastic lids and nozzles from my aerosol cans?
Yes. Only empty aerosol cans can be put in your household recycling bin, and it is preferable that any plastic lids and nozzles be removed if possible.
Paper and Cardboard
Can I recycle pizza boxes?
Yes. They can be put into your recycling bin as long as the food residue has been removed. A small amount of oil and food residue is acceptable, but if it is too contaminated, just rip off the clean cardboard top and place it in the recycling bin and put the dirty base in the waste bin.
Why can’t I recycle tissues or serviettes?
Tissues, paper towels and serviettes are often contaminated with food, grease or body fluids which makes them unsuitable for recycling. If you have a compost heap at home, small amounts of this paper can be torn up and added to your compost bin.
What about junk mail, magazines and brochures – is glossy paper recyclable?
Yes. All paper products are recyclable and can be placed loosely in your recycling bin. The glossy finish is made up of clay and ink that can be removed during the recycling process.
Do I have to remove sticky tape, staples or the plastic window from envelopes?
No. They are removed during the recycling process, along with dyes and other grit.
Why do I have to remove the lids from plastic bottles?
The lids are made from a different type of plastic than the rest of the container and need to be placed in your recycling bin loose. They are separated at the MRF into the different plastic types before being taken to processing plants for recycling into new products.
Do I have to remove the labels from plastic containers?
No. If it is easy to remove them, then please do, but otherwise just put your clean plastic bottles and containers in the recycling bin with labels attached.
Do I have to rinse the plastic containers before recycling them?
Yes. Food and other residue should be cleaned from plastic containers before they are put in the recycling bin as any contamination may impact on the ability to recycle some items. It also poses a health and safety risk for staff sorting recyclables. To save water, rinse them in your dishwashing water after you have finished the dishes.
Why can’t I recycle plastic bags and other thin film plastic in my recycling bin?
Even though plastic bags and other plastic wrappers are made from recyclable plastic and can be recycled at some special places, they cannot be recycled in your household recycling bin. They get caught in the sorting machinery at the MRF and may stop other items from being recycled. If you place your recyclables in plastic bags in your recycling bin, they can’t be recycled and will end up in landfill.
Polystyrene meat trays have a plastic identification code of 6 – does that mean I can recycle them?
No. Only RIGID plastic containers can be placed in your household recycling bin for collection, not soft foams such as expanded polystyrene. The plastic identification code stamped on plastic products identifies the type of plastic resin it is made from, not whether it is recyclable or not. Even though rigid plastic items stamped with a plastic identification code of 6 (e.g. yoghurt containers) are recyclable at the MRF, expanded polystyrene products (e.g. meat trays, foam cups, polystyrene packaging) are not able to be recycled there.
Can I leave items next to my household recycling bin to be picked up if my recycling bin is full?
No. Anything left beside your recycling bin outside your residence on collection day will not be collected as all bins are mechanically lifted by the truck. All recyclables must be placed inside your recycling bin and the lid must be closed properly or the truck cannot empty your bin.
Can I put my recycling in plastic bags like I do my garbage?
No. Never bag your recyclables in your recycling bin as plastic bags are not recyclable at the MRF. Operators do not have time to open bags to check for recyclables and they do not know what’s inside the bag – it may just be rubbish and end up contaminating the whole load. Bagged recyclables at the MRF are taken out and landfilled, so all your good work at recycling will go to waste if you put it in plastic bags.