With over 70% of householders across the MidCoast regularly using their yellow-lidded recycling bin, National Recycling Week is a great time to celebrate our efforts in keeping waste out of landfill.
This terrific commitment from the MidCoast community now sees over 1,800 tonnes of paper and over 2,700 tonnes of glass recycled every year. But in trying to become the best sort in the neighbourhood, we can sometimes become a little overzealous and send the wrong things off for recycling.
"It's great news that people across the region are increasingly conscious of the importance of recycling, and make the effort to sort their waste before placing it out for collection," MidCoast Council's Director of Liveable Communities, Paul De Szell said.
"The next step in our education process is to tackle contamination in our yellow-lidded bins, so that the time and energy put into sorting isn't wasted".
Contamination occurs when items not suitable for recycling are inadvertently placed into the recycling bin. When this happens, it can mean the entire contents of the bin end up in landfill, or worse, the contamination spreads during the recycling process and ruins a much larger volume of recyclable material.
"It's quite common for people to collect up recyclables like paper or glass bottles inside a plastic bag or box before placing them in the yellow bin," Paul explained. "But once it arrives at the recycling facility, our machines can't open or empty the contents which means everything you separated for recycling ends up in landfill."
Other common mistakes when sorting for recycling include placing soft plastics, small items, or partially filled containers in the yellow bin.
Soft plastics such as chip packets, cling film and bread bags are so light they can end up in the paperstream, where even the smallest amount of plastic will contaminate an otherwise recyclable load.
And the general rule of thumb when it comes to size, even if the material is recyclable, is nothing smaller than a credit card. Small bottle tops or bread tags fall through gaps in the recycling process and end up in the wrong place.
Takeaway coffee cups have a thin plastic lining, and a waxy board which can't be separated by processors. Pizza boxes are recyclable but any uneaten pizza is not. Hard plastic laundry bottles and cardboard juice cartons should be emptied completely before recycling, as any remaining liquid can contaminate recyclables.
For more information about recycling, and for tips on becoming a better sort, visit www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/waste
National Recycling Week runs from Monday November 11 to Sunday November 17. Now in its 26th year, the annual event is a Planet Ark initiative aimed at bringing a national focus to the environmental benefits of recycling. Learn more and download resources at www.recyclingnearyou.com.au
Re-Imagine Waste is part of MidCoast Council's commitment to reducing the amount of waste going to landfill.