Monday, 22 June 2015

Recycling - Do You Know What Goes Where?

It's true: recycling is no longer just for hippies.

In the last twenty years or so, our general approach to recycling has shifted considerably, with an emphasis on reducing waste, reusing what we can and preserving our planet for future generations.

Every household has a yellow bin and most actually use it. Our councils have reduced the size of our regular bins in comparison, gently encouraging our cooperation. Many public places offer recycling bins and children are learning the importance of recycling at school.

Slowly but surely, we are changing, uniting for the greater good. Be proud, humans because it needs to happen.

The sheer volume of recyclable products in the household is astounding and despite my best efforts, there are still items that make their way in error to the regular bin at our place. As head of recycling at Team Turner, my family feel the wrath when I open the bin to find a cardboard or plastic item buried beneath other juicy waste, abandoned, never to know the joy of living again.

No, we're not the best at recycling and mistakes do get made, but we give it a red hot go.
That looks a little painful.

When you consciously think about recycling for a while, eventually it becomes second nature. There's no need to stop and think about which bin the Coke can goes in, or where to put the newspaper. Those ones are obvious.

The problem is the grey area, the items that aren't blatantly obvious.

The little triangle with a number in it is incredibly misleading if you haven't spent an hour or two educating yourself on the topic of recycling.

Surely I wasn't alone when I believed the little triangle with a number in it meant first, an item is recyclable, and second, if it's recyclable, you put it in your yellow-lid bin?

WRONG. The number inside the triangle indicates the type of plastic a container is made from. It's not a green light to chuck it in your recycling bin. The plastic bag that pasta comes in, for example, is recyclable. But not through your yellow bin. This one has to go with other plastic bags into the recycle bin at the front of the supermarket. Apparently.

Right? Got it. That's easy.

Now riddle me this one batman:


OK, so it's already been recycled, that's lovely. Can it be recycled again? I don't know.

They've specifically asked us to dispose of this egg carton responsibly. What does that mean? Don't make a loud noise when you close the lid on the bin? Don't flush it down the toilet?

I don't think it's reasonable to expect the average person who isn't university-qualified in the finer points of recycling, manufacturing and engineering to understand HOW to do the right thing here.


To add a little salt to the wound (that is the gaping wound of feeling like a dick for not knowing which bin to use), councils vary in their guidelines for what they will and will not take. Some will take pizza boxes, some won't and some will only take them if they're not too pizzary. Yes, that's a word now.

The worst thing for me is that I know, despite how much I'm banging on about this right now, I'm going to continue to get it wrong because the rules just aren't clear enough.

I hate the thought of putting something in the regular bin that could have a meaningful existence elsewhere. Conversely, I feel pretty bad knowing I could be accidentally busting some green-machine and costing the council thousands of dollars to get it fixed.


How about you? Do you feel you have a complete handle on recycling? What are your best tips?