Don't let contamination make your recyclables go to waste

Although South Australians are the best recyclers in the nation, we can still do better by reducing our contamination.

Placing general waste items, as listed below, in the recycle bin will contaminate valuable recyclable materials. If recyclable items are contaminated they cannot be recycled easily and it may mean that they end up going to waste, potentially ruining the efforts of other people who have put clean items into their recycling bins.

General waste items risk the health and safety of staff at the materials recovery facility (MRF). Contamination also increases the cost of recycling. Having to pay to handle and dispose of contaminated recyclables costs us and our community a lot of money.

What you can do to help avoid contamination:

Please ensure that these items are kept out of the yellow recycling bin and placed in your red or blue waste bin, or taken to a special collection point (as indicated below) instead.

Top 10 Items We Need To Keep Out Of Our Yellow Lidded Recycling Bins:

1. Soft Plastics (eg. plastic bags and wrapping)

Soft plastics wrap and tangle around machinery at the materials recovery facility (MRF). This prevents the machinery from working effectively. The machines then need to be stopped and cleared of the materials wrapped around them. During this time, materials cannot be processed for recycling which wastes time and money.

Plastic bags and other soft plastic wrapping also causes problems by getting caught in the paper and cardboard stream. This causes contamination and reduces the value and recyclability of the paper and cardboard.

Plastic bags and other soft plastics can be placed in the REDcycle bins found at many supermarkets. The soft plastics are recycled and made into outdoor furniture, bollards and board walks for schools and councils.

2. Nappies

It should be obvious however nappies are not recyclable and cause an unpleasant mess! Many of the materials are sorted by hand. It is not pleasant for hand sorters to have to remove nappies (no, they cannot go in the green bin either).

Please put nappies in your red or blue landfill bin.

3. Ropes, Hoses and Strapping

These items become entangled with recyclable materials, causing contamination. They also wrap and tangle around sorting machinery, preventing it from working effectively as well as damaging the machinery. The machines then need to be stopped and cleared of the materials wrapped around them.

These materials need to go into your red or blue landfill bin.

4. Broken Crockery and Glassware

Broken crockery and glassware cannot be recycled. This contaminates other recyclable items as it mixes and filters through into other items. Broken ceramics are one of the main contaminants for recycled glass. Broken glass will only break up into smaller and smaller pieces of glass (glass fines). Glass fines are difficult to retrieve for recycling and embed into other recyclable material such as cardboard and paper which causes contamination issues.

Wrap broken items in newspaper and place them in a bag before placing them in your red or blue landfill bin.

5. Unwanted Clothing, Bedding, Textiles and Rags

Old clothing, bedding and rags wrap and tangle around machinery at the materials recovery facility (MRF). They cannot be recycled through kerbside recycling bins.

Please place these materials in your red or blue landfill bin, or take them to a clothing recycling drop off location.

6. Polystyrene Foam Packaging

Expanded polystyrene foam (aka Styrofoam) includes meat trays, coffee cups and foam packaging and is identified by the number 6 in the plastic identification code on the bottom of the container.

Polystyrene contaminates recyclable materials as it breaks up into many small pieces when placed in the recycling bin. Due to its light weight, it also gets caught up in the paper/cardboard stream, causing contamination.

Polystyrene cannot go in your yellow kerbside recycling bin. Please place these materials in your red or blue landfill bin.

Alternatively, polystyrene foam used for packaging electronics, furniture, homewares and toys can be taken to Electronics Recycling Australia (301 Grand Junction Road Ottoway), NAWMA’s Edinburgh North Resource Recovery Centre (Gate 3, Bellchambers Road, Edinburgh North).

7. Bagged Recycling

Bagged recycling cannot be sorted and often goes to waste. Please place items in the recycle bin loosely so they can be sorted and recycled easily. More info here.

8. Bricks, Tiles and Wire

Heavy materials such as bricks, tiles and scrap metal damage trucks and machinery. Wire, coat hangers, hoses and strapping get caught and wrap around machinery, stopping the machines from working and causing damage.

None of these materials can go into any kerbside bin. Building materials need to be delivered to a transfer station for processing and recycling. If you are completing a home renovation you may consider hiring a skip to collect building materials in.

9. Food and Liquids

Food and liquids cause a mess and can contaminate a whole load of recyclable items, which may mean they end up in landfill. Please make sure containers and bottles are empty before placing them in the recycling bin.

Place unwanted food in the green lidded ‘food and garden organics’ bin.

10. E-waste

Electronic items must be taken to a specialised E-waste recycling centre.

Drop off locations are listed here:www.whichbin.sa.gov.au/tips/recycle-your-old-electronic-items-at-a-recycling-centre. Please contact your council for your electronic recycling options that they may also offer for items such as mobile phones and batteries.