Top tips for Easter recycling

Hop to your recycling bin – but don’t just throw everything in. Here’s our tips for Easter recycling and beyond.

South Australians lead the nation on recycling rates – diverting nearly 80 per cent of waste from landfill each year. But that still leaves about 20 per cent room for improvement.

Easter is a great time to start. Here’s the low-down on what’s hot and what’s not in the world of waste, and what you can do at this time of year.

Easter egg foil – don’t foil your Easter, make a fist of it instead!

The best way to recycle Easter egg foil is to scrunch the foil up into a fist-sized ball before placing it in the recycling bin. This makes sure the small bits of foil don’t get lost in the recycling process.

If it’s got chocolate on it, rinse it off first and if it's still too dirty then it's better in the waste bin.

Cardboard boxes are egg-cellent in the yellow bin

The cardboard boxes that package the eggs, along with any other boxes, can be placed in your yellow recycle bin for recycling. Collapsing the boxes first helps leave room in your bin for more recycling.

Even plastic needs to worry about shaping up – like those hot cross bun bags

There’s one question to ask when it comes to recycling plastic – ‘does it hold its shape?’ The golden rule is, if it holds its shape when crumpled then it can be placed in the recycling bin.

That means plastic bags are a no-no, as are other soft plastics like bread bags and hot cross bun bags.

So why is this all so important?

We only have one Earth

The Global Footprint Network offers the analogy that today we use resources equivalent to 1.5 planet Earths, and by the 2030s we may need the equivalent of two planet Earths to maintain this lifestyle.

While recycling is great, there’s actually something better and that’s ‘avoidance’ – the idea that you don’t buy what you don’t need. Then reduce the amount of waste, reuse what you can, and finally, recycle any remaining recyclable items. You’ll find that by only buying what you really need, you’ll save money too.

What’s the link between recycling and climate change?

When an item goes in the bin and ends up in landfill, harmful chemicals and greenhouse gasses are released as it breaks down.

The National Waste Policy suggests that waste is responsible for greenhouse emissions equivalent to about 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, of which approximately 11 million tonnes is from landfill. How we access, use and recover resources in future is part of adapting to climate change.

Recycling helps reduce the emissions caused by waste. But that’s not all – recycled materials can be used to create other products and we then avoid taking raw materials from the earth, such as timber and water, or having to create them from scratch using more energy and creating further emissions. In the wine industry for instance, it is cheaper to waste and reuse glass bottles than to create new ones – saving on energy and water. Doesn’t that make that sip of wine feel oh so much better?

So can’t I just throw it all in the recycling – it gets sorted later on, right?

Wrong. When unnecessary waste is put in your yellow recycling bin, we end up with ‘contamination’ of the waste. This causes problems when recyclables are sorted, and also can affect the ability of the item to be processed into a new product. In fact, contaminating a few bins could mean ruining an entire truckload of recyclables, so it might end up being sent to landfill instead.

What are the yellow bin rules?

Thumbs up for…            Pizza boxes (these can also go in your green bin!), paper and cardboard, some plastics (we’ll go into this in more detail soon) glass beer and wine bottles, milk cartons (rinsed), aluminium or steel tins, plastic water bottles (lids off), clean yoghurt containers. Give bottles, cartons, jars and tins a quick rinse first.
 Thumbs down for…  Plastic bags, polystyrene foam, crockery and drinking glasses, clothing or fabric, e-Waste, batteries and nappies, food waste and lawn clippings.

All the single lids (all the single lids)

When plastic lids are thrown loosely into the recycle bin, their small size means they can cause problems with machinery, and workers with safety gloves can't get hold of them. Also when recyclers see the bottle has no lid it's a visual cue that not only is the bottle empty, and ready for recycling, it also means there's no chance the lid will fly off when it's compacted. This is really important because any trapped gasses can cause lids to come off at high speed and injure workers.

Any plastic lids from plastic bottles and plastic bread tags can go into the yellow recycling bin in SA if you fill a recylable bottle.

bottle tops
Fill a bottle with your plastic lids, such as juice, soft drink, water and sauce bottle lids

Feeling full of information? Here’s something to lighten the load:

If you have already eaten too many eggs, this one’s for you:

Q. How does the Easter Bunny stay fit?
A. Eggs-ercise and hare-robics!

A note from the Good Living team: We previously advised that soft plastics could be recycled. We are not 100 per cent sure about soft plastics recycling so we’ve decided to remove this from our advice until we have more information.

Find out more about recycling in our next instalment, where we give you the heads up on batteries, medicines and more. Trust us, it’s worth the read. If you want more Easter recycling tips in the meantime, read the Green Industries Easter fact sheet. If you are still unsure about what goes in which bin, always check with your local council.

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